“Surge”

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 →

“The Only Story”

I really like Julian Barnes. He's one of those authors - like Haruki Murakami - who I just do. We all have them, don't we? Whether it's Austen, Swift (Graham, in my case) or Grisham (not in my case!), it doesn't really matter. "The Only Story" is another super effort from Barnes. Typically low-key, happy/sad,... Continue Reading →

At some point it becomes serious…

I don't believe you can set out to write a book. Not really. And I suspect many people who set out to do so in a conscious, act-of-will kind of way, are deluding themselves, and are either unlikely to complete the task or in doing so produce something sub-standard. Setting out in this premeditated way... Continue Reading →

The language of stream of consciousness

Has it ever occurred to you that stream of consciousness writing has an intimate language dependency - even if it's written in your first language? Obvious really. I have just started reading Jack Kerouac's "Visions of Cody" which, the blurb said, was an 'experimental' novel written largely in the manner of stream of consciousness. Fair... Continue Reading →

“Turning for Home”

It is difficult for a man to write in the first person as a woman - I know, I've tried. And I it's difficult the other way round, too; I've certainly read female writers who have tried to be a man and failed - badly. But Barney Norris succeeds. Not only that, in his "Turning... Continue Reading →

“The Illegal Age”

Ellen Hinsey's "The Illegal Age" is one of those increasingly prevalent books of poetry that seek to blend different structures on the page in order to aid the conveying of message. Interestingly, when it comes to appreciation, I suspect books such as this one are more dependant than most on how the Reader is 'feeling'... Continue Reading →

Does it matter when in the day you post?

I used to think the answer to that question was 'No'. From the point of view of principle, I argued with myself that it shouldn't matter; that a post - if it were good enough - would get the 'reads' whenever you posted it. But I'm not sure that's true. Especially if you live in... Continue Reading →

‘The Quotidian’ – a short story

The Quotidian "Your friend turned up the other day in one of those old t-shirts." "A red one?" "No, blue." "Impossible. He didn’t have any blue ones." "The old ones got confiscated - it was felt the logos were unnecessarily provocative. We gave out new ones." "He didn’t say." "Why should he?" "Anyway, how do... Continue Reading →

Willow

Willow   on the river the moon reflected fractured and rebuilt by the movement of the water only to be fractured and rebuilt again   in the summer-evening still apologies for waves lap at the punt   it feels poetic as if ancient others transported here would be able to wane more graciously than the... Continue Reading →

Houston – 5

There is an amazing feeling; one that perhaps only those of us who write get to feel in the unique way we do. It's the feeling of 'finishing'. Believe me, it's not as banal as it sounds. For the last few days I've worrying away at a story. You will know this if you've read... Continue Reading →

Houston – 4

Cosmopolitan. Really?! I suspect Europeans think of themselves as more cosmopolitan, more 'connected' than Americans. After all, we've so many countries and so many people jammed in together, so little room per person, that we have to be cosmopolitan don't we? Yet in the hotel restaurant over the last couple of days I've heard languages... Continue Reading →

Houston – 3

It's a long time since I've felt virtuous at 6 in the morning..! Never mind that I've just undone all the good of a gentle 30-minute workout with waffles and bacon in a plate the size of a boat..! And now, before I Uber off to work, the chance to spend 30 minutes reviewing what... Continue Reading →

Houston – 2

Update #2 will be short - and mainly about food... One of my favourite breakfast things in America is French Toast with bacon and a little maple syrup. When I asked for this in my hotel this morning I was met with an incredulous "Is that all?". So I said yes. The French Toast and... Continue Reading →

Houston – Prelude

For once it didn’t seem to matter that we were going to board late; there was just about enough entertainment in the pantomime of people trying to get to the front of the queue - as if the plane was going to leave without them! Beforehand, I had sat in the lounge trying to etch... Continue Reading →

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