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”
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?
There can be no doubt that my reading of Michael Ondaatje’s marvellous “The English Patient” benefited from me having seen the film. It was as if the story he was sketching was being laid down on pre-tinted paper which made his images and backdrop all the more convincing. It was reading “Warlight” that made me… Read More “The English Patient”
For this weekend – 1st – 4th November – Amazon is offering three of my books in Kindle version absolutely free! Take a look and help yourself! “An Infinity of Mirrors” Given his profession as a Historian, it was inevitable that Mark would find himself one day writing the story of his late father, the… Read More Free books this weekend!
There is much to admire in Peter Sirr’s “The Gravity Wave”, a range of subjects, of styles that keeps the collection from becoming – as so many can be – a little bit repetitive. Having said that, however, I found myself not quite ‘grabbed’ by it; to my taste it was a book that felt… Read More “The Gravity Wave”
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
It’s probably quite rare that you can legitimately praise a book for being bleak, but “The Shipping News” is one such book. Not only through the medium of the story and the sparse picture painted of Killick Claw, the somehow elemental nature of the people who live there, but also through the language she uses.… Read More “The Shipping News”
I never read historical novels, so why I chose Andrew Miller’s “Now We Shall Be Entirely Free” is consequently a little beyond me. It must have been a review somewhere, or being seduced by the fact that it was shortlisted for a prize and Miller was already a Costa winner. Indeed, when I started reading… Read More “Now We Shall Be Entirely Free”
The sea is the only constant. Grey waves indulge a brief white collar when they curl and fold inwards, foaming as they stretch up the shallow incline of the beach, striving to reclaim the land. Accompanied by the rhythmic pummelling of the shore, theirs is an onslaught that fears nothing in its perpetual motion. The… Read More “At Maunston Quay” – chapter 1
I confess that in the beginning I struggled with Seni Seneviratne’s “Unknown Soldier”. There was something about the two voices in the first section that didn’t quite work for me, and I wonder if using the photographs (from the third section, ‘Album’) proved as much a straitjacket as an inspiration. However, in the second section,… Read More “Unknown Soldier”
One of the things at which Kazuo Ishiguro excels is writing first person characters who have flawed views of themselves; they believe they are perfectly rational, charming, intelligent, while all the while they are something other. And he depicts them in such a way as to allow us to see both sides, permitting us to… Read More “Nocturnes”
For my friends in the U.S., Goodreads.com is currently running a ‘Giveaway’ where 100 copies of my novel “At Maunston Quay” are available for free. The ‘Giveaway’ runs until 15th September – so just two days to go! To be in with a chance of a free Kindle version of my book all you need… Read More Goodreads ‘Giveaway’ – 2 days left!
Given the format of this book – the daily diary over a year of a second-hand bookseller – there should be much repetition in “The Diary of a Bookseller”. And there is. But one of the things that gives Shaun Bythell’s book its quality is that this never gets in the way; he handles it… Read More “The Diary of a Bookseller”
Vidyan Ravinthiran’s “Million-petalled Flower” may well be a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, but I’m afraid it didn’t work for me; a little too flat and uninspiring. So much so that I couldn’t finish it. I dislike abandoning poetry books, but there you go… It – and a number of other recent dissatisfactions with my own… Read More “The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here”
The third annual Ripon Poetry Festival opens on Thursday 10th October at 7pm with an event featuring readings by members of the Ripon Writers’ Group. The group has been active in the city for many years and was on the programme for the inaugural festival two years ago. Saturday sees the official launch of the… Read More Ripon Poetry Festival 2019
Of course after “Autumn” and “Winter” it should be no surprise that Ali Smith’s “Spring” is stunning. It won’t be for everyone, of course; some people will struggle with the language, the tone, the sheer vibrancy of it. And one of its major topics – refugee detention – is hardly a comfortable one. But it… Read More “Spring”
For my friends in the U.S., Goodreads.com is currently running a ‘Giveaway’ where 100 copies of my novel “At Maunston Quay” are available for free. The ‘Giveaway’ runs until the second week in September. To be in with a chance of a free Kindle version of my book all you need to do is to… Read More Goodreads ‘Giveaway’
If you were to put much of the text of Gerald Murnane’s “Border Districts” into something like ‘Grammarly’, I dread to think what ‘readability’ score it would get. Almost everywhere the language used is convoluted, repetitive, arcane, self-indulgent. The sentences are so long you need a bus to get from one end to the other.… Read More “Border Districts”
One of the things I find with Japanese fiction is that it can often be, shall we say, ‘quirky’. Murakami is probably the best, most obvious proponent of the fantastic view on reality. Yu Miri’s “Tokyo Ueno Station” doesn’t try and be surreal in the same kind of way, but I couldn’t help compare it… Read More “Tokyo Ueno Station”
I guess I should have expected something tremendous from the person who wrote “The English Patient”, and “Warlight” is exactly that; a tremendously evocative and well-written story from Michael Ondaatje. It evokes the murky and dangerous post-war world where people are still coming to terms with what freedom means – and what freedom cost. Someone… Read More “Warlight”