Gas Street Basin

In Birmingham early for a business meeting, I found myself whiling away the time at the Gas Street Basin on the Birmingham and Worcester canal. It had been the haunt of my first canal holiday way back in the seventies. Redeveloped over the years, only the canal remained the same: the same shape, the same … Continue reading Gas Street Basin

“The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth”

This may be damning with feint praise, but William Boyd's "The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth" is the kind of book you should take on holiday with you. Inoffensive, easy-to-read, unchallenging; perfect for the beach or to snuggle up with by a fire in a country cottage. It's well written - which is one of the … Continue reading “The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth”

“Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods”

There is a great deal in Tishani Doshi's "Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods" that, one might argue, has more the narrative than the poetic about it. Snapshots from Doshi's life, travels, encounters. In spite of this almost semi-prosaic style, there is a great deal here that is engaging, warm. I confess that part … Continue reading “Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods”

Early Edition

Early Edition They stand on the pavement waiting.   Up before everyone, larks and all, they stroll down the road ever slower struggling not to beat the first bus from the depot and failing because they must get out.   Today they are too early again.   Unlocking a grill-protected door paint-flaked from too many … Continue reading Early Edition

As I went out one morning…

When I was out jogging this morning - early, in the rain - I saw something that my mind immediately translated into words: Green. Round. Spikey. On the black roughness of a pavement improperly made the first horse chestnut. I love it when that happens. It's something I have no control over. Luckily I only … Continue reading As I went out one morning…

What’s in a number?

I now have the grand total of six ratings on Goodreads.com for "Losing Moby Dick". Not many, I know, but you've got to start somewhere. I had hoped - after a 'Goodreads Giveaway' - more of the 100 people who'd received the e-version of the book would have read and rated it, but beggars, choosers … Continue reading What’s in a number?

“The Road”

They should make Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" compulsory reading for every politician of every hue in every country. Right now. For all their protests, groups like Greenpeace would do well to buy a few copies and mail them out to Presidents, Prime Ministers and Dictators with a simple instruction: 'Read this!'. It is the most … Continue reading “The Road”

“Darke”

Let's keep it simple to begin with: Rick Gekoski's "Darke" is a good book. It deals with some big issues honestly, sensitively, as well as starkly and unrelentingly. Is there a 'but'..? Sort of. As I was reading it, I couldn't help but feel boundaries blurring between author and character - especially perhaps in the … Continue reading “Darke”

“The Displaced Children…”

The strongest attributes of Failsal Mohyuddin's "The Displaced Children of Displaced Children" combine to create a kind of calm, reflective tone; one which suits his excursions into history and place. The poems are, in part, political, familial, intensely personal; and some of their imagery is almost casually excellent. Having said that, some of the poems … Continue reading “The Displaced Children…”

“Silent House”

I was immediately unsettled during the early pages of Orhan Pamuk's "Silent House" (translated by Robert Finn) with the consistent use of the first person - but where the 'who' that first person represents changes from chapter to chapter. It's initially very disorienting! But once you get used to it - and recognise that in … Continue reading “Silent House”