“The Shipping News”

It's probably quite rare that you can legitimately praise a book for being bleak, but "The Shipping News" is one such book. Not only through the medium of the story and the sparse picture painted of Killick Claw, the somehow elemental nature of the people who live there, but also through the language she uses.... Continue Reading →

“Now We Shall Be Entirely Free”

I never read historical novels, so why I chose Andrew Miller's "Now We Shall Be Entirely Free" is consequently a little beyond me. It must have been a review somewhere, or being seduced by the fact that it was shortlisted for a prize and Miller was already a Costa winner. Indeed, when I started reading... Continue Reading →

“Unknown Soldier”

I confess that in the beginning I struggled with Seni Seneviratne's "Unknown Soldier". There was something about the two voices in the first section that didn't quite work for me, and I wonder if using the photographs (from the third section, 'Album') proved as much a straitjacket as an inspiration. However, in the second section,... Continue Reading →

“Nocturnes”

One of the things at which Kazuo Ishiguro excels is writing first person characters who have flawed views of themselves; they believe they are perfectly rational, charming, intelligent, while all the while they are something other. And he depicts them in such a way as to allow us to see both sides, permitting us to... Continue Reading →

Goodreads ‘Giveaway’ – 2 days left!

For my friends in the U.S., Goodreads.com is currently running a 'Giveaway' where 100 copies of my novel "At Maunston Quay" are available for free. The 'Giveaway' runs until 15th September - so just two days to go! To be in with a chance of a free Kindle version of my book all you need... Continue Reading →

“The Diary of a Bookseller”

Given the format of this book - the daily diary over a year of a second-hand bookseller - there should be much repetition in "The Diary of a Bookseller". And there is. But one of the things that gives Shaun Bythell's book its quality is that this never gets in the way; he handles it... Continue Reading →

“The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here”

Vidyan Ravinthiran's "Million-petalled Flower" may well be a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, but I'm afraid it didn't work for me; a little too flat and uninspiring. So much so that I couldn't finish it. I dislike abandoning poetry books, but there you go... It - and a number of other recent dissatisfactions with my own... Continue Reading →

Ripon Poetry Festival 2019

The third annual Ripon Poetry Festival opens on Thursday 10th October at 7pm with an event featuring readings by members of the Ripon Writers' Group. The group has been active in the city for many years and was on the programme for the inaugural festival two years ago. Saturday sees the official launch of the... Continue Reading →

“Spring”

Of course after "Autumn" and "Winter" it should be no surprise that Ali Smith's "Spring" is stunning. It won't be for everyone, of course; some people will struggle with the language, the tone, the sheer vibrancy of it. And one of its major topics - refugee detention - is hardly a comfortable one. But it... Continue Reading →

Goodreads ‘Giveaway’

For my friends in the U.S., Goodreads.com is currently running a 'Giveaway' where 100 copies of my novel "At Maunston Quay" are available for free. The 'Giveaway' runs until the second week in September. To be in with a chance of a free Kindle version of my book all you need to do is to... Continue Reading →

“Border Districts”

If you were to put much of the text of Gerald Murnane's "Border Districts" into something like 'Grammarly', I dread to think what 'readability' score it would get. Almost everywhere the language used is convoluted, repetitive, arcane, self-indulgent. The sentences are so long you need a bus to get from one end to the other.... Continue Reading →

“Tokyo Ueno Station”

One of the things I find with Japanese fiction is that it can often be, shall we say, 'quirky'. Murakami is probably the best, most obvious proponent of the fantastic view on reality. Yu Miri's "Tokyo Ueno Station" doesn't try and be surreal in the same kind of way, but I couldn't help compare it... Continue Reading →

“Warlight”

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 →

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