Stuff & Nonsense Blog

Guardian Angels

There’s the old joke: I’ve had a lot of luck in my time. Most of it bad. Because, surely not all guardian angels are the same?   MY GUARDIAN ANGEL              after James Guppy’s The Fairy of Sharp Edges Guppy’s fairy looks around a hard glance over her shoulder directly … Continue reading Guardian Angels


Pop-Up Settings

I remember reading some advice about developing 'setting' when I first started writing. I found it a little confusing, as the advice assumed the setting for any fiction was as fictional as the story itself. This is, clearly from my reading, not always the case. Think James Joyce’s Dublin, Charles Dickens’ London, Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul, … Continue reading Pop-Up Settings

Lost for Words

I’m left searching for words. I want to write about ‘The High Mountains of Portugal’ (2017) but I do not know where to start. I recently chose to say nothing about a graphic novel because I disliked it so much. Quite the opposite reaction to a book has left me in this same position of … Continue reading Lost for Words


Writers Writing about Writers Writing

There’s a long line of novels with writers as the main character. Off the top of my head I can remember John Irving’s ‘The World According to Garp’ (1982), Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ (1987), A.S. Byatt with her historians and poets in ‘Possession’ (1990), while Ruby Lennox in Kate Atkinson’s ‘Behind the Scenes of the Museum’ … Continue reading Writers Writing about Writers Writing


The Novelette

I recently thought I’d picked up on a new pattern in book titles, with Arundhati Roy’s ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ and Heather Rose’s 2017 Stella Prize winning ‘The Museum of Modern Love.’ In light of this, when I saw Sophie Divry’s ‘The Library of Unrequited Love’ in the local bookshop I obviously found it … Continue reading The Novelette


A Spark of Understanding

I’ve been thinking about why rereading a book can be such a different experience to the initial reading. My recent reactions when rereading Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ were willingly put down to changes in me and what I'd brought at different times, for good or ill, to the work. But what … Continue reading A Spark of Understanding



I could think of no other way to commemorate the passing of Ursula Le Guin last week than to reread ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ (1969). (Well I did think to reread ‘The Earthsea Quartet’ but my omnibus edition seems to have gone on a quest and not returned to the shelf). Le Guin had … Continue reading Lightness