Making Ends Meet

American author Ann Patchett gets straight to the point: ‘The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living. My short stories and novels have always filled my life with meaning, but … they were no more … Continue reading Making Ends Meet

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Winter’s Reading

If on a winters’ night a traveller had come and described this novel to me, I’d have gone cross-eyed and then run a mile. I knew Italo Calvino was a name uttered with reverence, but I came upon his ‘If on a Winters’ Night a Traveller’ (1980; English translation 1983) cold, so to speak. It … Continue reading Winter’s Reading

A further instalment in writers writing about writers writing

Seriously, when I’m deciding on the next book to read, I don’t go searching for novels about writers writing. And yet, so often in the last couple of years these stories just keep turning up. The latest novel to fall in with the theme literally arrived on my doorstep in a box with a bunch … Continue reading A further instalment in writers writing about writers writing

Vocation or Vacation

Never meet your heroes. This truism needs to be extended to meeting your heroes on the page. I have been reading and loving Muriel Spark’s sardonic novels for decades but after finishing Martin Stannard’s biography (2009) I’m pretty much convinced I wouldn’t have liked the Scottish author. Stannard’s ‘Muriel Spark: The Biography,’ is absorbing and … Continue reading Vocation or Vacation

Less is More

I really should just settle into an esoteric niche with my reading and give up the rest. Without specifically searching them out, so many books I pick up turn out to be about writers. Writers, it seems, like to write about writers. Just in the last year I read Richard Flanagan’s ‘First Person’ (2017), Miriam Toews … Continue reading Less is More