“Flèche”

I really like Mary Jean Chan’s “Flèche” – even though, based on my track record of how I respond to a reasonably large proportion of modern verse, I shouldn’t… Why is that? Two main reasons, both normally bête noires. The first is the significant experimentation in form (especially how the pieces appear on the page)… Read More “Flèche”

“The Tradition”

The thing that struck me most about Jericho Brown’s “The Tradition” was more generic than specific. As I struggled to get beneath the words, to find some kind of rhythm that appealed to me, a language I could interpret, I realised how much reading poetry – unlike prose, you could argue – is dependant on… Read More “The Tradition”

“The Wall”

It’s great when you choose to read a book from an author you have never previously encountered and end up wanting more. John Lanchester, whose novel “The Wall” found its way into my possession after a recent expedition to Waterstones, is such writer. Like Sarah Perry, Donna Tartt, John Ironmonger, Sebastian Barry and many recently… Read More “The Wall”

“Melmoth”

Although its geographical setting is very different, Sarah Perry’s excellent “Melmoth” tackles some themes similar to those in “The Essex Serpent”: the semi-isolation of an individual in community; guilt and sin; the threat of the unknown; how people manage – or not – their interaction with something intangible, ephemeral, threatening. The words you might see associated with the… Read More “Melmoth”

“The Cockroach”

It was with a degree of surprise that I realised last night I hadn’t read any Ian McEwan for a long time – something which was accompanied by a recognition that I needed to read more. The catalyst? “The Cockroach”: a sublimely unfiltered, undisguised and scathing satire on the state of UK politics – and… Read More “The Cockroach”

“Circe”

I need to learn my lesson. If the cover of a book says “The #1 International Best Seller” then just leave it on the shelf. Madeline Miller’s “Circe” is one such book. If it starts out as a dull retelling of ancient Greek mythology – told from the perspective of the title character – one… Read More “Circe”

“Mantissa”

John Fowles’ “Mantissa” is a child of its times. Written in 1982 at the peak of popularity for modernist literary theory, deconstruction, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, it is a novel that attempts to explore the relationship between author and text both in itself and also as the theme for the narrative within the book. In some… Read More “Mantissa”

Is there room in the market for a new literary journal?

The idea is simple enough. A bi-annual literary compendium containing prose, poetry, and literary non-fiction. It would be produced in paperback book not pamphlet form, and probably run to about 200-pages long. Significantly, the bulk of the content would most likely come from writers capable of crafting high-quality material yet who are struggling to get… Read More Is there room in the market for a new literary journal?

Snippet

She now realised she had moved through her adult life with an increasing sense of self-obligation; she was operating against a default equation which meant every time someone changed one of the variables she was forcing herself to re-solve the algebra. Having left the draft to mature for a small number of months, I’m currently… Read More Snippet