Having already read three novels by Colum McCann, perhaps one of the best compliments I can pay “Songdogs” is to say that it simply doesn’t read like a debut novel. It is inevitable that in many first novels Authors are finding their feet, only growing into themselves and establishing their voice and presence as they… Read More “Songdogs”
If you were to ask me what I like best about writing prose then the answer is simple: making people. There is nothing quite like that feeling of giving life to a previously non-existent character, of forming them, building their history, giving them emotions, ambitions, plans. For each and every one of them the potential… Read More Why I love making people…
“By no means a conventional crime story” – according to the blurb on my copy of Olga Tokarczuk’s “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead”. Let’s face it, a conventional crime story is the last thing you’d expect to emerge from the slightly surreal worlds of the Nobel Prize winning Tokarczuk. And in… Read More “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead”
If Max Porter’s “The Death of Francis Bacon” is intended to represent the ravings of a dying man, then job done. Tick. The danger – from a reader’s perspective, however – is that you’re not entirely sure exactly what’s going on. There is a balance to be struck, of course, a tightrope to be walked,… Read More “The Death of Francis Bacon”
There is an immediacy about childhood. We are impatient, fickle; we want today’s new thing, an ice cream, to go to the park. And we always want them now. For young children, tomorrow simply doesn’t exist. Then things change. School does that to us. It introduces us to “school days”, “weekends”, “holidays”; eventually it becomes… Read More Short-term, long-term, short-term; the Shifting Horizons of our lives
The final instalment of Ali Smith’s quartet, “Summer”, is lorded on the front cover of my copy as ‘a tour de force’ – and for once the publishers are not wrong. In many ways “Summer” is an extraordinary achievement: stylistically inventive, politically astute and opinionated, accomplished in the depiction of character and relationships… Yes, it… Read More “Summer”
It would be a little disingenuous for me to say that I’ve no idea why I chose to read Anne Tyler’s “Redhead by the Side of the Road”. I chose it because the front cover boasted Booker long-listing; the back cover made it sound interesting; and it was on the ‘buy-one-get-one-half-price’ table at Waterstones. There.… Read More “Redhead by the Side of the Road”
Ocean Vuong’s novel, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”, pulls few punches. The subject matter almost demands it does not: homosexuality, the Vietnam war, being a post-war Vietnamese resident in the US, old age, love and death. Not a cocktail of subjects which lends itself to kid gloves perhaps. And given that cocktail, there could be… Read More “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”
With the exception of a couple of short stints in Europe and the Far East, I have lived in the UK all my life. This is where my – extended – family lives, and is home to the vast majority of my friends and ex-work colleagues. Two weeks ago I published my latest novel, On… Read More Home is (not) where the sales are…
If you’re like me, there will be music you listen to which reflects your mood – particularly at the extremes. Right now The Cure’s “Galore” is blasting out of my stereo, one of my ‘go to’ albums when I’m in a really good mood. Today the weather’s great, I went for a run first thing,… Read More Music: the barometer of your Happy Place?
Whether conventional or not, I’d just like to recognise those people who have bought my latest novel, “On Parliament Hill”, in the last week. So, “Thank you”. It means a lot to me. When you don’t have some massive publishing behemoth behind you driving publicity, working with bookshops etc., your readers – inevitably in smaller… Read More Is it acceptable to say ‘Thank You’?
Kevin Barry’s “Night Boat to Tangier” is, in many ways, an exceptional book. The first thing that hits you is the style in which it is written: unconventional; short, punchy sentences; lacking much of the traditional format of a novel. To be honest, this can be off-putting. For example, initially I was annoyed by the… Read More “Night Boat to Tangier”
While I enjoyed Elif Shafak’s unique “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”, I have to be upfront and say that I’m not sure how it made it to a Booker Prize shortlist. I couldn’t help but think that the conceit which provides the structure for the first part of the book – that… Read More “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
My latest novel, “On Parliament Hill“, has now been published! Her voice is a trigger; a voice which forces Neil to relive the crises and failures of his past – one which offers him the possibility of a positive new future. But before he can decide on what he wants the life ahead of him… Read More Published today! “On Parliament Hill”
I was getting tired of being spammed by people using my website’s Contact page to do so. Something had to be done. So I added a checkbox that needed to be ticked in order for the contact form to be successfully sent. I thought this might filter out any automated messaging – and maybe help… Read More Think you’re secure with a WordPress ‘Contact’ page?
My latest novel, “On Parliament Hill“, is published next Friday, the 21st! Her voice is a trigger; a voice which forces Neil to relive the crises and failures of his past – one which offers him the possibility of a positive new future. But before he can decide on what he wants the life ahead… Read More New novel, out next week!
The irony was inescapable, concluding the reading of Colum McCann’s tremendously inventive novel “Apierogon” just as Arab-Israeli violence and tensions escalate to what is perhaps another inevitable war. The irony is that in “Apierogon” McCann presents us with a sliver of hope as two men – one Palestinian, the other Israeli – work together to… Read More “Apierogon”
When I was contemplating this entry, it is surely telling that my primary concern was whether or not I should use the full title of Conrad’s novella. My instinct was to do so, but recognising that in these sensitive times certain words can be highly offensive and inflammatory, I have settled on an abridged version.… Read More Conrad’s “The…Narcissus”
It seemed like a good idea. I mean, I had some free time on my hands after all. Not for right now you understand, but for some point in the future – just in case ‘posterity’ might ever need it… Over the years I have written (thus far) a number of volumes of poetry, and… Read More The downside of looking back too far…
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”