Granta 144 – “Generic Love Story”

I don't normally offer a sketch on the Granta quarterlies once I have read them. Often it's because they are too eclectic, too varied to be able to hone in on something specific enough for commentary. Granta 144 is a little different. A number of the stories are told by women and relate to damaged … Continue reading Granta 144 – “Generic Love Story”

“Birthday Letters”

Confession time: I didn't managed to finish this one. And actually, I didn't like it that much. Is that sacrilege? My reasons for finding it 'hard'? Most of the poems felt too personal, as if I was some kind of Peeping Tom looking in on lives and a relationship when I had no right to … Continue reading “Birthday Letters”

“1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Year”

"1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear" is the third volume in James Shapiro's historical / literary amalgam, each book focusing on a single year and setting Shakespeare's output in the context of contemporary events. In the case of "1606", the ramifications of the Gunpowder plot (Shakespeare was really close to the action - but … Continue reading “1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Year”

“Feral”

Most of Kate Potts' "Feral" isn't really poetry. Normally that's a big red flag for me, but I have to confess, not this time. I really liked "Feral". There was something about the tone, the images, the quality of it - even if it wasn't 'poetry' - that was undeniably pleasing. I told myself that … Continue reading “Feral”

“Milkman”

What. A. Slog. I can't recall when it last took me as long to read a book as it has Ana Burns' Booker winner "Milkman". Be warned, it is not an 'easy' book. I picked it up and put it down far too many times. Firstly, it's very dense. Virtually no reported speech, so page … Continue reading “Milkman”

‘The River’ – a short story

A long time ago, someone explained the difference between a salmon river and a trout river to him. Brown and swirly versus one that was black, quieter. He cannot remember, as he stands looking down at water as dark as ink and filled with menacing eddies, which is which. And then he wonders if it … Continue reading ‘The River’ – a short story

‘News’

News I wait for the telephone to ring. The inevitability of it. This is a strange waiting, a long waiting wishing for something not to happen even though it must.   I tried your line today. My turn to call. There was nothing after the dialling tone as if that was the end of it, … Continue reading ‘News’

“Mythos”

If "Mythos" had not been written by Stephen Fry, I do not see how it could have been a best-seller. Indeed, even now I struggle to believe that Fry wrote all of it. It's like Homer meets 'Eastenders' or 'Dallas'. Some parts of the book (too many in fact) just make you cringe: inane dialogue … Continue reading “Mythos”

Let’s not make the same mistakes next year…

Perhaps that should be the only resolution any of us make when facing into a new year. After all, it is bound to cover a number of bases..! Twelve months ago - almost to the day - I posted a review / preview of my writing years, '17 into '18. The stand out? That I … Continue reading Let’s not make the same mistakes next year…

“The Distal Point”

Fiona Moore's "The Distal Point" is segmented into three reasonably discrete section: personal mourning, what might be loosely termed 'the political', and 'the rest'. Finding it difficult to cope with too many back-to-back pieces on the same theme - and especially those whose subject matter is deeply personal (I'm really struggling with Hughes' "Birthday Letters"!) … Continue reading “The Distal Point”