There is something about Bellow’s first person narrator / observer which draws you into “Ravelstein”; it seems to me that you are both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ simultaneously. This elongated pen-picture of Ravelstein, laid out by his close friend Chick, is undoubtedly all sorts of things: colourful, expansive, amusing, ironic, submissive… Indeed, the list of adjectives… Read More “Ravelstein”
The third book in my free three-book promotion is now available on Amazon: “Secrets & Wisdom” – 11th to 15th March A collection of short stories.
My sixth collection of poetry – “The Homelessness of a Child” – will be published on 10th April. Perhaps long overdue, a fair proportion is an exploration of the hardships and repercussions of my difficult childhood. As the intro says: “By the time Ian Gouge went to university he had already lived in seventeen different… Read More Forthcoming book – April publication
The second book in my free three-book promotion is now available on Amazon: “Degrees of Separation” – 6th to 10th March This will be followed by “Secrets & Wisdom” – 11th to 15th March Both of these are collections of short stories.
You could be forgiven for wanting to stop reading Marlon James’ “John Crow’s Devil” fairly early on into the book. If so, it will be the Jamaican patois that will most likely get you. But my advice is to persevere. Try and get a ‘voice’ in your head against which you can process the language… Read More “John Crow’s Devil”
I’m thinking of taking a sabbatical from poetry. Giving it up for a while. A bit of ‘detox’. Why? Multiple reasons really. The easy one is to say that “I want to focus on my prose”. Very little collateral damage in that one I suspect. And it also has the benefit of being true! I… Read More Time for a Poetry ‘sabbatical’?
In one of Lawrence Durrell’s poems there is a wonderful line: Give us the language of diamonds The Death of General Uncebunke, Fourteen Carols (V) That simple phrase – “the language of diamonds” – has always seemed to me complex, profound, powerful, beautiful. The subtlety of it comes in the unpacking of it of course,… Read More ‘The Language of Diamonds’
I have a free Kindle book promotion running over the next two weeks on Amazon: “At Maunston Quay” – 1st to 5th March “Degrees of Separation” – 6th to 10th March “Secrets & Wisdom” – 11th to 15th March
Olga Tokarczuk’s “Primeval and Other Times” is simply stunning; a plethora of literary squares woven together to make a quilt that lays bare what it means to be human. Unvarnished, all of life is here: the tragic, the mystical, the sad, the violent, the superstitious, the unavoidable. And – ultimately – the powerlessness. It seems… Read More “Primeval and Other Times”
I have to say that I’m not really sure how Sophie Ward’s “Love and Other Thought Experiments” made it to the 2020 Booker Prize longlist. Perhaps they were seduced by the surreal nature of the narrative, both its timeline and how it shifts through different versions of reality. Perhaps they were recognising the quality of… Read More “Love and Other Thought Experiments”
It seems frankly bizarre that we sacrifice around a quarter of our lives to an unseen agent over which we have no control whatsoever. We succumb to an invisible force which has dominion over us, both physically and mentally. Decisions as whether to sleep on our left or right, front or back, are abdicated to… Read More The Hybrid Us
Working through some old notebooks (see My Writing Diary) and I came across this: “He stared at the photograph. It was not how he remembered it. It had been less sunny, surely; and there appeared no trace of wind. He thought he had been wearing his green jacket – the old one with the torn… Read More Buried treasure…
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But how many of us like to think of ourselves as ‘Writers’ (note the capital ‘w’!) when – to be frank – we don’t really put the hours in. Think about it. How could you be a surgeon without learning your craft and then operating on people day-in day-out, or a… Read More You can’t be a Writer without writing…
To call Ernest Heminway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” a collection of short stories is a mis-labelling. Indeed, it could be argued that very few of the eighteen tales within the book qualify as a ‘short story’. Many are very short – almost vignettes – and a number, which all centre around the same character –… Read More “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
Every few months or so – usually at propitious or convenient points – I take stock of where I am with my writing. These reviews take the form of notes scribbled into one of many(!) notebooks, and essentially provide a snapshot of where I am with my creative work. When arriving at such moments (as… Read More A glance in the rear-view mirror…
If his “Selected Poems” (Ed. Peter Porter) is anything to go by, Lawrence Durrell’s poetry has not travelled well through time. Whilst they may have been stylistically appropriate for the 30s and 40s, I fear that do not sit well in the twenty-first century. Many seem contrived and clumsy, with (sometimes inconsistent) rhyming schemes shoe-horned… Read More “Selected Poems” – Lawrence Durrell
On one level it’s really difficult to ‘like’ Saul Bellow’s “Seize the Day”. This isn’t because the book is badly written – quite the opposite! – but rather because of Tommy Wilhelm, its main character. Bellow has succeeded in drawing for us a remarkable picture of a serial loser, one with whom it is difficult… Read More “Seize the Day”
Why is it that so many of us live our lives – subconsciously or otherwise – as if there is a secret rewind button always available? A button that gifts us the opportunity to revisit past triumphs, to avoid horrible defeats; a button which permits us to take different decisions and make alternate choices. And… Read More The rewind button’s broken…
Andrew Motion’s “Randomly Moving Particles” is, in many ways, a quite remarkable tour de force of free verse; indeed, it is so ‘free’ that I am reminded of the narrative qualities of Robin Robertson’s award-winning “The Long Take”. Nowhere is the power of his work more in evidence than in ‘How Do the Dead Walk’,… Read More “Randomly Moving Particles”
Usually I really like Philip Roth’s work, but I’m afraid “Portnoy’s Complaint” didn’t quite hit the spot. Written as one huge monologue, the language used – relaxed, conversational – certainly fits the bill; and having been promised something explosively funny, there were undeniably ‘laugh out loud’ moments. Having said that, however, the book poses a… Read More “Portnoy’s Complaint”