I confess to being slightly confused and ambivalent about Ian McEwan’s “Machines Like Me”. It seemed to vary between being good, and not so; between generating empathy for its characters, and then nothing at all. The only constant perhaps was my distaste for the android / synthetic human, Adam. But perhaps that was the point.… Read More “Machines Like Me”
Okay, it’s my own fault. I should have read it at University nearly forty years ago when I was supposed to. But I thought “Hey, more chance of understanding it now”. “Dreams” is from the Vintage ‘mini’ series and contains two of Freud’s most famous essays: “On Dreams” (1901) and “Typical Dreams” (from The Interpretation… Read More “Dreams”
On the 19th December I started work on something that – as is often the case – was no more than a vague notion, a few opening sentences. On Monday, just under four months later, I finished the first draft of a new, relatively small novel (c. 52k words, about 150 paperback pages). I have… Read More The result of four months’ work…
Normally I would argue that a Booker Prize winning novel (or even finalist) would be a pretty decent yardstick for the oeuvre of an author, a good place to start. But having read “On Chesil Beach” and “Black Dogs”, I have to say Ian McEwan’s “Amsterdam” is far from that. Indeed, had I read “Amsterdam”… Read More “Amsterdam”
Whether some elements of the central post-war event re-told at the end of Ian McEwan’s “Black Dogs” have any basis in reality is potentially irrelevant – and if you’ve read the book, you’ll probably have a good idea of the specific element I’m talking about! True or false, it doesn’t diminish the power of the… Read More “Black Dogs”
Ever since I read Graham Swift’s wonderful “Waterland” I’ve been completely hooked; his writing is something I can always reliably turn to. There are a few authors in that bracket for me – Murakami certainly, Julian Barnes, Donna Tartt, Swift himself – with a few others ‘coming up on the rails’: Ishiguro, Ali Smith, McEwan.… Read More “Here We Are”
This week – Monday 30th March to Friday 3rd April – Amazon are giving away free Kindle copies of my collection of short stories, “Secrets & Wisdom”. So today’s the last day! Recently I read one of the stories from this volume, “Welshman” (see the link below). Now you have the chance to get the… Read More Free e-book this week – last chance!
Kwame Dawes and John Kinsella’s “Tangling with the Epic” is probably, above all, ‘clever’. It is a dialogue between the two comprised entirely of Spenserian stanzas, batted backwards and forwards across a literary net. It is clever in the sense of its formulaic execution, of sticking to the brief. But for me it is also… Read More “Tangling with the Epic”
This week – Monday 30th March to Friday 3rd April – Amazon are giving away free Kindle copies of my collection of short stories, “Secrets & Wisdom”. Recently I read one of the stories from this volume, “Welshman” (see the link below). Now you have the chance to get the whole collection absolutely free! Partly… Read More Free e-book this week!
There is a particular skill in taking a relatively small narrative episode and weaving an entire novel from it. In “On Chesil Beach” Ian McEwan displays such talents. The incident of the title – short, climactic, tense, complex, emotional – is perhaps the natural outcome of the story as it is laid before us. How… Read More “On Chesil Beach”
Considering all that he’s written, I find it somewhat remarkable that “Paris Echo” is the first Sebastian Faulks I have ever read. Was that a good place to start? I suspect I’ll never know. Without doubt, there is much about the book to admire, but the question I’m wrestling with at the end of it… Read More “Paris Echo”
I have always wanted to read my short story “Welshman”. Written a while ago, it was published in 2017 in my collection of short stories “Secrets & Wisdom”. I hope you like it.
A reading of my poem, “The Skip”.
Sidings they arc from sight with bizarre elegance an overgrown divergence designated to home the unwanted or the forgotten weeds climb rusting axles clogging memories of motion and birds flit in the eerie silence to reserve a first-class nesting site
Having loved “The Miniaturist” and, off the back of that read “The Muse”, I confess to being profoundly disappointed by Jessie Burton’s latest, “The Confession”. So disappointed in fact, that I’ve given up on it after about 170 pages. I struggled with the tone, and – I hate to say – so much of it… Read More “The Confession”
Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” is a quite exceptional book on many levels. Engaging, principled, well-written, intelligent; the narrative weaves it way through its pages like the roots of a tree – especially in the final section where the tendrils mix and merge and knit. It’s obvious why it was shortlisted for the 2018 ‘Booker’, and… Read More “The Overstory”
Really looking forward to appearing on the panel of writers at this free event in Ripon Library on 14th March, being grilled about being a writer – and only having a minute to answer each question!
Zoë Skoulding’s “Footnotes to Water” is somewhat obsessed with its subject. Water flows through the poems, washing inexorably over you in wave after wave. Which is fine, though a little more variety – if only to better demonstrate the poet’s linguistic skill – might be nice. In many of the pieces I struggled with the… Read More “Footnotes to Water”
Later, after the fog had lifted, I discovered I had become invisible. It had tumbled down the hill like an afterthought forgotten by the morning, as if it had missed its alarm call and was trying to make up for lost time, scurrying across the lake to where I sat alone, accompanied only by the… Read More Anonymous – a short story
Compulsion abstracted from reality he painted consumed by a nameless passion accidentally acquainted no slave to fashion he claimed a lack of choice for rolling with the punches rarely on the verge of controlling unbidden instinctive hunches it’s not important what’s created he claimed his… Read More Compulsion – a poem