I am a registered Goodreads.com author. I had hoped that membership of Goodreads would allow my work to reach a wider audience. In support of this ambition – and possibly naïvely – I have twice indulged in Goodreads’ ‘giveaway’ promotions. The basic premise is that you offer 100 e-books to Goodreads members in what is… Read More The Impossible Readers
From its earliest origins in aural tradition, poetry has inevitably tracked the metamorphosis of language through time. You only have to reflect on the differences between Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Larkin to see how poetry maps not only the journey of a civilisation but its language and mores too. Perhaps poetry takes a little while… Read More “Homie”
At the end of this month I’m giving up work. More or less by choice. It is a step that has been labelled in various ways by various people, me included: ‘retirement’ seems the most common, with the upcoming period a ‘glide-path to retirement’ – after all, I’m not officially qualified to be there yet…!… Read More The Daunting Prospect of Reinvention
There is a section toward the end of Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain” where one of the book’s characters, Ernestine, confronts the author/narrator about her life and the life of her family, African-Americans from New Jersey. What follows from Ernestine/Roth seems to me – a white, non-American – a brilliant and powerful exposé of racism,… Read More “The Human Stain”
According to the trade publication, The Bookseller, in the UK today – Thursday 3rd September 2020 – some 600 books are going to be published. Yes, 600! On one day! Books from ‘big’ publishing houses as well as the myriad of independent and Indie publishers. The suggestion is that this figure represents a catch-up from… Read More Did you know this? Stunning…
Carolyn Forché’s “In the Lateness of the World” is a collection of poetry about which it’s very easy to be ambivalent. Not because the work is insipid or dull – far from it! – but because for me it veers toward both extremes on the good-bad poetry continuum. If I start with the more negative… Read More “In the Lateness of the World”
Some books just don’t travel well through time. “To Have and Have Not” is, I suspect, one such. There are all too obvious examples of where some of the words Hemingway uses – and the prejudices expressed – are clearly not acceptable to a modern twenty-first century readership, and the dated nature of language is… Read More “To Have and Have Not”
Although I first came across Anthony Doerr through his novel “All the Light We Cannot See”, if you wanted a more subtle introduction then his collection of short stories then “Memory Wall” wouldn’t be a bad place to start. The stories are engaging and well-written, and you somehow feel ‘safe’ in Doerr’s hands. The subject… Read More “Memory Wall”
I wonder if that’s what ‘Life’ does, getting in the way, forcing us to take our eyes off the ball, allowing us to forget what’s important… In many respects it’s also the easy option, isn’t it? A kind of abdication. Knowing what matters to us, believing in it, keeping the faith – all of that… Read More Rediscovering what’s important?
“Thirteen Ways of Looking” is the novella headlining this collection where it is joined by three much shorter stories. Although the subject matter of each is different, they all share a number of characteristics like tone, voice and style. More importantly, they also have in common the fact that they are really well-written. I admit… Read More “Thirteen Ways of Looking”
Call me old-fashioned, but… I’m currently reading a novel – a proper novel, published by a reputable and global publishing company – in which a heinous crime has been committed: an instance of the 21st-century malaise of using ‘amount’ when one should use ‘number’. Who got it wrong? The author in the first place? Or… Read More Number vs. Amount: why is it so difficult?
We often encounter difficulty when trying to reconcile our memories of events with what actually happened. In the almost inevitable mis-match, our mind plays tricks on us, and what we have recently learned and how we have recently lived gets in the way and colours the past. Pressed to recall his own life, the challenge… Read More My latest novel – “A Pattern of Sorts” – published today!
There’s an interesting debate about cross-sex writing, isn’t there? It seems to me the popular wisdom is that a man can’t write as a woman, but a woman can write as a man. No. That’s too simplistic. Perhaps is should be qualified: it’s easier for a woman to write as a first-person male narrator than… Read More “Rules of Civility”
Not for me, I’m afraid. I managed about a third of Claire Crowther’s “Solar Cruise”. Perhaps the subject – being so scientific – doesn’t lend itself to poetry; but I’m sure it isn’t just words like ‘nucleus’ or ‘electron’ which put the breaks on the poetic. The layout of some of the pieces – you… Read More “Solar Cruise”
In many ways, Harry Matthews “The Journalist” is a remarkable achievement. Having said that, I suspect three-quarters of people who start to read the book may not make it all the way through to the end… “The Journalist” is not about someone who writes for newspapers or appears on television, but rather a man who… Read More “The Journalist”
My new novel, “A Pattern of Sorts”, is published early in August. We often encounter difficulty when trying to reconcile our memories of events with what actually happened. In the almost inevitable mis-match, our mind plays tricks on us, and what we have recently learned and how we have recently lived gets in the way… Read More A Pattern of Sorts
Sometimes volumes of poetry that focus on a single theme or issue seem to sacrifice the quality of the writing in favour of ‘the cause’. Marvin Thompson’s “Road Trip” is rooted in both place – Wales – and subject – being black in an essentially white environment – and succeeds by never making that sacrifice.… Read More “Road Trip”
If you wanted to call a book ‘hard-hitting’, then Philip Roth’s “I Married a Communist” would be right up there. Not necessarily in the sense of the message it conveys – though that in itself is naked and raw – but in the unrelenting and merciless power of the language. At times you feel as… Read More “I Married a Communist”
Perhaps it is inevitable that a novel which relates the experiences of a man spending his life entirely ensconced in a Moscow hotel is somewhat episodic, at times reading more like a collection of little vignettes than anything else. If so, then the fact that Amor Towles’ “A Gentleman in Moscow” is c.450 pages long… Read More “A Gentleman in Moscow”
In spite of myself I actually liked Will Harris’ “Rendang”. ‘In spite of myself’? Well, there’s a lot in this volume which I would challenge as being poetry; perhaps it’s prose poetry at best. Yet there is much that is poetic (if that’s not paradoxical), and the lyric quality of the pieces – thoughtful, reminiscence,… Read More “Rendang”