What can you tell from the title of a book, its cover, the blurb that goes with it? Too often these prove insufficient clues as to what might be hidden inside – good or bad. Sometimes when we’re buying a new book we’ll take a punt; but more often than not, we probably settle for… Read More Openings

“Jesus’ Son”

It was mere coincidence that saw me reading Denis Johnson’s short story collection “Jesus’ Son” immediately after Kevin Barry’s “That Old Country Music” – but it was a coincidence which served to throw the two into sharp contrast. Where Barry’s stories are softer, somewhat gentle, filled with ‘Irishness’, Johnson’s are raw, hard, uncompromising, and paint… Read More “Jesus’ Son”

“Anxious People”

There is something of the fairy story about Fredrik Backman’s “Anxious People” – which probably shouldn’t be a surprise from the man who have us “A Man Called Ove”. You might also argue that “Anxious People” is a rare novel these days: one which, in the flurry of positivity towards the end, manages to resolve… Read More “Anxious People”

New book out in January!

I am delighted to announce that I have a new book coming out in January. Neither fiction nor poetry, “Shrapnel from a Writing Life” isn’t easily categorised. Here’s an excerpt from the blurb: “Shrapnel from a Writing Life” is not a conventional book. It is neither fiction nor poetry, though it contains elements of both;… Read More New book out in January!

“Hot Stew”

Having loved Fiona Mozley’s Booker-nominated debut “Elmet”, I simply wasn’t prepared for “Hot Stew”. To my mind the two books are so ‘chalk and cheese’ that they could have been written by different people. Not that “Hot Stew” is a ‘bad’ book. It isn’t. But it is remarkably different in subject matter, style and tone.… Read More “Hot Stew”

It will soon be 1984…

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. George Orwell, from “1984” Airbrushing history does not make the future any… Read More It will soon be 1984…

“The Unconsoled”

When a new novel is published rarely does it polarise opinion as much as Kasuo Ishiguro’s “The Unconsoled”. For many it was a masterpiece, unlike anything else ever written – for others it was simply not very good and roundly vilified. There seemed to be no middle ground. My own reaction when I started to… Read More “The Unconsoled”