Clichés in Motion

Every now and then I get a bee in my bonnet and decide I should fill some of the massive gaps in my reading career. Enter Raymond Chandler. One of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe detective novels, ‘The Long Good-Bye’ (1953), was recommended by Ann Patchett in her book of essays, ‘This is the Story of a … Continue reading Clichés in Motion

Read It and Weep

Claire Keegan’s ‘Foster’ (2010) is one of those books that demands to be shared. It was passed to me with the words read it and weep, and I have recommended it widely ever since I got over the weeping. Little more than a long short story, which indeed started life as a short story in … Continue reading Read It and Weep

Tortoises and Hares

I’ve been collecting versions of ‘The Tortoise and The Hare’ for years, ever since I discovered the moral of the fable is not fixed across cultures. For the Anglo-Saxon amongst us, the plodding tortoise beats the fast hare because, so we are taught, slow and steady wins the race. And that is how we are … Continue reading Tortoises and Hares

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

Walking a Mile

Twenty years ago, did fiction writers worry about appropriation and exploitation when they approached their work? These have been issues much discussed more recently. Whose stories do we have the right to tell based on our identity and the identity of our characters? Whose voice can we legitimately adopt? Lionel Shriver’s opening address at the … Continue reading Walking a Mile