“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 →

“At Maunston Quay” – chapter 1

The sea is the only constant. Grey waves indulge a brief white collar when they curl and fold inwards, foaming as they stretch up the shallow incline of the beach, striving to reclaim the land. Accompanied by the rhythmic pummelling of the shore, theirs is an onslaught that fears nothing in its perpetual motion. The... 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 →

La Rochelle (2)

A week ago I started work on a little idea that had popped into my head. The first draft of my latest novel completed, I found myself free to embark on something different, fresh. In my last post I made reference to 'a new story' that seemed to be writing itself. All week I have... Continue Reading →

La Rochelle (1)

Having spent a large chunk of last night 'imagining' the beginning of a new story, I was up at 7 this morning and 70 minutes later had drafted 1,877 words. They may end up being nothing material of course, but boy was I in the groove! It's at times like that when the act of... Continue Reading →

I may have finished…

I may have finished the draft of my latest novel..! I had two further chapters pencilled in, but the one I have just completed reached such a conclusion that any more work may could prove to be nothing but repetition. Let's call it done for now! It needs to be left alone for a while... 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 →

Just write! It can be that easy…

Occasionally you come across posts from people who are struggling to write, either because they say they can't find a subject, or because they are waiting for 'the Muse' / inspiration to hit them. But in a way, writing is no different from almost any other endeavour. Take golf. When once teased about how much... Continue Reading →

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