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... Continue Reading →

“The Lost Sailors”

"The Lost Sailors" is an interesting one. About half-way through or so, I was really enjoying Jean-Claude Izzo's book; it seemed to be a really thoughtful and probing examination of sailors marooned in both a physical and emotional sense. Not that much had happened in terms of action, but that seemed to fit the theme... Continue Reading →

Getting published is easy; it’s getting read that’s hard…

Someone's moved the goal posts. The Holy Grail has shifted. It used to be that writers dreamed of being published, because 'being published' meant something. Now, thanks to Indie Publishing and services likes Amazon's KDP, lulu, IngramSpark etc., getting published is a piece of cake; having your words turned to into real physical books (or... Continue Reading →

“Hand & Skull”

In some places Zoë Brigley's collection "Hand & Skull" is remarkable. Indeed, in many of the pieces she manages to convey, with alacrity, what it means to be a woman - and what some men can represent to women, not all of it positive. I can't recall reading a female poet who has put me... Continue Reading →

When you’re not sure what to say…

Today, even though I managed to write a few hundred words (my writing diary), I allowed myself to be distracted by meandering through a few WordPress sites. I had entered "writing" and later "literature" into the 'search' function just to see what came up. Not surprisingly there was a great deal. Which is fantastic, of... Continue Reading →

This is what writing’s all about…

Sometimes, as a writer, you get those moments when you are bowled over by what you have written. It's almost as if it had come from someone else. Those moments can be as a result of modest things - a line in a poem, perhaps - or something much larger - a paragraph or even... Continue Reading →

Kindle ebook offers!

Check out my Author page on Amazon. Over the next two weeks there are various offers on a number of my books: "An Infinity of Mirrors" - my largest and most ambitious novel, 18th-25th July, just $0.99! "Degrees of Separation" - short stories, 19th-22nd July, FREE! "At Maunston Quay" - my latest novel, 18th-25th July,... Continue Reading →

Free book offer

I would like to offer a free ebook copy of my collection of short stories "Secrets & Wisdom". Unfortunately I cannot embed an ebook file into the site, only a pdf which is not great. But the offer stands. So if you would like a copy of "Secrets & Wisdom" please let me have an... Continue Reading →

“Secrets & Wisdom”

"My friends call me Angel." It had been her favourite line, delivered with a slight tilt of the head and playful smile intended to lay bare the lie, to seed the notion that she was - if they played their cards right - anything but angelic. She had stood before her bathroom mirror and rehearsed,... Continue Reading →

“Deaf Republic”

If one of the prime objectives of poetry is to communicate - and through that communication to enthral, entertain, stimulate, challenge and so on - then Ilya Kaminsky's "Deaf Republic" is a success. It isn't poetry in any traditional sense, and seems to bestride the line that divides verse and the short story. Indeed, it... Continue Reading →

“Degrees of Separation”

It was a cursory glance; the kind of sweeping, superficial look designed to absorb as much as possible in one movement, as if the most critical thing was to use one’s eyes efficiently. He established the approximate size and scale of the room, its tone, an overall sense of feeling. The walls were part-panelled and... Continue Reading →


A great deal in Rees-Jones' "Erato" is prose, plain and simple. Some of it may be very lyrical and 'poetic', but it's still prose. And it looks like prose; and you read it like prose. There are also some good poems too, the quality of some of the imagery unquestionable. And because of that -... Continue Reading →


James Wood's "Upstate" is my kind of book. Not just the kind of book I like to read, but the kind of book I'd like to write. In many ways it is the kind of book I do write. It's modest, undramatic (in terms of no false and phoney events and cliff-hangers); it's about people,... Continue Reading →


Jay Bernard's collection "Surge" is rooted in the New Cross Fire of 1981; a birthday party that went tragically wrong, and where thirteen young black people lost their lives. Whilst "Surge" never strays too far from its source material, it avoids becoming a 'one trick pony', the same song sung time and again, and in... Continue Reading →

“Everything Under”

"Everything Under" is a modern delight. Not always an easy read - both in terms of theme and style - it is one of those modern contemporary novels (like "Elmet" perhaps) that simply stands out as being really good. There are two things I particularly love about the book. The first is the way the... Continue Reading →

“The Salt Path”

It was too late when I realised that Raynor Winn's "The Salt Path" was autobiographical non-fiction. These days I rarely read non-fiction; the days of racking up books on sports, history, biography are something of a distant memory. "The Salt Path" being in my possession was, it seems, an example of me not reading the... Continue Reading →

What a wonderful review….

I have just found this 5-star review for "At Maunston Quay" on Amazon (UK): This is a beautiful book, slow-paced but deep, about some very believable people who come to Maunston Quay, an undistinguished seaside place, with its suggestion of 'mourning', and find the possibilities for hope and change. I really liked the way the... Continue Reading →

So, Simon Armitage…

So, Simon Armitage is to become the next Poet Laureate. A Yorkshireman following in the footsteps of Ted Hughes and Alfred Austin (who?!); the three Laureates since Wordsworth (a Cumbrian, obviously) to hail from the county. Well that's the next ten years taken up, then. Which means they should be short-listing in about eight or... Continue Reading →

Free book offer

I would like to offer a free ebook copy of my collection of short stories "Secrets & Wisdom". Unfortunately I cannot embed an ebook file into the site, only a pdf which is not great. But the offer stands. So if you would like a copy of "Secrets & Wisdom" please let me have an... Continue Reading →

“Philip Larkin: Poems” selected by Martin Amis

Larkin's one of those poets who divides opinion. I wonder how much of it is because of that famous line about "your mum and dad"..? The way he doesn't shy away from 'the vernacular'..? The thing that strikes me most about him though - so ably illustrated in Amis' selection - is how he can... Continue Reading →

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