It seems to me that Philip Roth sits squarely within a tradition of great story-telling. I can imagine being in a quiet room with him and then he leans over and says “Let me tell you about this guy I know…” His work is conversational, relaxed; it is unfussy, unpretentious. Yet none of this stops… Read More “Everyman”

“Men Without Women”

I have, in the not too distant past, been less than complimentary about Ernest Hemingway (To Have and Have Not). Undaunted, I decided to try “Men Without Women”, and I confess to be really pleased to have done so. The stories are lean and enigmatic. The medium seems to suit Hemingway’s somewhat ‘punchy’ style, and… Read More “Men Without Women”

“The Gallows Pole”

It’s my own fault. The cover was plain enough: ‘Winner of the Walter Scott Prize’; ‘Historical fiction at its best’. And I never read historical fiction. So what was I doing with a copy of Benjamin Myers’ “The Gallows Pole”? I mean, really? And early doors my initial fears appeared to be justified. Some the… Read More “The Gallows Pole”

“Black Car Burning”

Helen Mort’s “Black Car Burning” is, quite simply, a remarkable book. Rarely do you come across a novel that is so rooted in place. The work of Joyce, Forster’s “A Passage to India”… Sheffield permeates “Black Car Burning”. It is a character in it’s own right – quite literally. And it seeps into every page.… Read More “Black Car Burning”


OK. Let’s get a couple of things clear up front… This post isn’t about speed-dating Actually I’ve never had any experience of speed-dating, so if you hear anything to the contrary they are just vile rumours So, speed-dating. The ‘topic’ – or at least the title of the topic – comes from a recent post… Read More Speed-dating

“Grand Union”

There is a tremendous degree of variety in Zadie Smith’s short story collection, “Grand Union”. Variations in style, theme, tempo. There is also (for me at least) considerable variation in terms of what one might euphemistically – and dangerously! – bracket as ‘accessibility’. Some of the writing is breathtaking; some less so. A number of… Read More “Grand Union”


If you’re the kind of person who flicks through a few pages of a book before you decide to buy it, then you might be put off by Max Porter’s “Lanny”. The way one of the character’s contributions are printed is, shall we say, a little ‘esoteric’; the font is variable, and the words bend… Read More “Lanny”

“The Nickel Boys”

Simply stunning. Having read “The Underground Railroad”, I confess to being a little reticent about deciding to read Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys”. I wasn’t sure that it would be quite ‘me’. Perhaps I was nervous that – as a white, middle class Brit – the book wouldn’t resonate with me, that I’d fail to… Read More “The Nickel Boys”

Quieted (a poem)

one day it will be too late and all those things I should have said or wanted to say will be lost because I will not be here to say them nor remember they needed to be said in the first place

Why as an author you shouldn’t use a Goodreads’ ‘Giveaway’…

As a member of Goodreads.com – and therefore a “Goodreads author” – I have indulged in their ‘Giveaway’ scheme twice now. The premise is simple: you fund 100 copies of your e-book and Goodreads runs a lottery on your behalf where members can apply for a copy which, if they are selected at random, they… Read More Why as an author you shouldn’t use a Goodreads’ ‘Giveaway’…

“The Offing”

I really liked Benjamin Myers’ “The Offing”. It’s a gentle, inoffensive coming-of-age tale; romantic with a small ‘r’. Like most things, “The Offing” is far from perfect: perhaps it tries a little too hard early on before it gets into the swing of itself; and most sixteen-year-olds simply wouldn’t have the nouse to do some… Read More “The Offing”