“Flights”

Whatever you do, don’t start reading Olga Tokarczuk’s “Flights” expecting to encounter a conventional novel – because you won’t. It is a fragmented, meandering creation with dozens of vignette’s nestling against each other, sometimes in a logical progression – but mostly not. Some of these are as long as twelve or more pages, the majority… Read More “Flights”

“Ravelstein”

There is something about Bellow’s first person narrator / observer which draws you into “Ravelstein”; it seems to me that you are both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ simultaneously. This elongated pen-picture of Ravelstein, laid out by his close friend Chick, is undoubtedly all sorts of things: colourful, expansive, amusing, ironic, submissive… Indeed, the list of adjectives… Read More “Ravelstein”

Free Kindle Book Promotion

I have a free Kindle book promotion running over the next two weeks on Amazon: “At Maunston Quay” – 1st to 5th March “Degrees of Separation” – 6th to 10th March “Secrets & Wisdom” – 11th to 15th March

Buried treasure…

Working through some old notebooks (see My Writing Diary) and I came across this: “He stared at the photograph. It was not how he remembered it. It had been less sunny, surely; and there appeared no trace of wind. He thought he had been wearing his green jacket – the old one with the torn… Read More Buried treasure…

“Seize the Day”

On one level it’s really difficult to ‘like’ Saul Bellow’s “Seize the Day”. This isn’t because the book is badly written – quite the opposite! – but rather because of Tommy Wilhelm, its main character. Bellow has succeeded in drawing for us a remarkable picture of a serial loser, one with whom it is difficult… Read More “Seize the Day”

“Portnoy’s Complaint”

Usually I really like Philip Roth’s work, but I’m afraid “Portnoy’s Complaint” didn’t quite hit the spot. Written as one huge monologue, the language used – relaxed, conversational – certainly fits the bill; and having been promised something explosively funny, there were undeniably ‘laugh out loud’ moments. Having said that, however, the book poses a… Read More “Portnoy’s Complaint”

Why you shouldn’t believe everything an Amazon page says about a book…

As a writer and Indie Publisher I am always grateful that my distributor and the Nielsen book registration service have direct feeds into major on-line retailers. This facility means that, as soon as a book is published, it usually appears on global websites within 24-48 hours. However, what appears is only as good as the… Read More Why you shouldn’t believe everything an Amazon page says about a book…

“About Grace”

I hesitated before deciding to read Anthony Doerr’s “About Grace”; the blurb on the back cover suggested a novel that explored some dark and difficult emotional territory. And it did. I expected pain, helplessness, a sense of loss – all of which the novel delivered. And some of it was beautifully rendered: Winkler’s panic early… Read More “About Grace”

“Sag Harbor”

[Spoiler alert, from the start.] There’s a famous quote from Alfred Hitchcock which goes something like: “if you show the audience a gun in Act 1, it has to be fired in Act 3”. Nothing should be superfluous. So when, about mid-way through “Sag Harbor”, Colson Whitehead’s main character references that one day he’ll be… Read More “Sag Harbor”

“Everyman”

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”