For the young me, the ghost stories and folklore of Britain had a powerful effect. Odd to think of it now, but reading about the dead as a child, brought the wider world to a rich and vivid life.
Out there, it seemed, was a land, far older, stranger and deeper than my limited experience. A world where multiple layers of history could still be seen, or felt, not only in old houses, ruined castles and abbeys, but also in and around more ordinary sites such as shops, factories, pubs and suburban streets.
Two thoughts, or questions, struck me recently as I reflected on the books I’ve read during 2018. The first was, where do all these books come from? I don’t mean in a literal sense; from a shop or library, but where did I hear about them? I often wonder this about authors in end-of-year-round-ups of…
Imagine a world where there was a demand for poems to be repaired, plot holes to be fixed, unnecessary exposition removed, unfinished tales completed, or lost books and stories to be patched-up and rewritten. The literary equivalent of MyBuilder; let’s call it, Your writer.
A review and author interview as part of the blog tour for Lev Parikian’s Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? published 17 May 2018.
A mysterious letter. A secret journal. An ancient wood, in borderland territory. Deceptive paths and strange, ghostlike figures, stirring at the edge of the trees. These were some of the elements that quickly took hold and drew me into Ryhope Wood, when I first read about it aged 15.
Recently I re-read it, rediscovered and found many new things to treasure.
I’ve always quite liked the style of old handbills: the erratic punctuation, jumbled type sizes and overuse of exclamation marks especially. If I produced a handbill for this blog, it would look something like this…
As a child of second-hand booksellers I had ready access to books and their offshoot – bookmarks. I recently rediscovered a box filled with some that once upon a time I had hoarded.
At the inaugural Balham Literary Festival, a gathering of Nature Writers, Landscape Writers and Writer writers came together to discuss the state of the natural world. Here’s my report on what I saw and heard.
It’s dark. It’s raining. January is upon us and the season of reflection, projection and resolve is underway. For voracious readers, this means that the perennial question: what to read next will be nagging at their shoulders more urgently than ever.
This post originally began as a bit of a rant about ‘gatekeeping’ in so-called ‘New Nature Writing’. Since then, I’ve occasionally updated & added links & info, esp. concerning lack of diversity in nature writing, creeping nativism and more. Which may be useful to anyone interested in this well trodden, much debated field.
Crumbling ruins, moonlight, tree-lined walks, bats flitting, owls hooting, wolves howling, trapdoors and darkling cellar stairs…
Ever since I can remember I’ve been attracted to things that might be termed ‘Gothic’. For that reason I have been looking forward enormously to the latest exhibition at the British Library: Terror and Wonder – The Gothic Imagination.
I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to post a list of the 10 books that had made the most impact on me. It was a lot harder than I thought and I’ve had to miss out some real favourites. I could have written ten lists, let alone ten titles, featuring almost entirely…
Clevedon: the most boring seaside town in all England; filled with dusty, fusty little sepia-tinted shops, selling dull stuff like lacework, horse brasses and pink and blue vintage porcelain salt-and-pepper sets in the shape of Edwardian ladies.
At least that’s what I used to think…
David Abbott, one of advertising’s best known, most accomplished and best beloved writers died last Saturday 17 May. One of the founders of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, he was responsible for a huge number of famous ads and campaigns for clients including BT, Sainsbury’s, The Economist and Volvo. My two editions of D&AD’s Copy Book are…
The Topping and Company bookshop in Ely is so good it’s almost laughable. This is the kind of shop that you don’t expect to find in real life; only, perhaps, in a lost Penelope Lively children’s book, or there to be sneered at for its too-good-to-be-true perfection in a Richard Curtis film.
As a reader some books are inevitable. Recently I finally got around to reading one that had nagged at me for years. As I plunged in it felt like meeting an old friend.
A new way to go behind the scenes of some of Bristol’s most historic buildings.
A ‘spotter’s guide’ to some of the more common themes, obsessions and clichés to be found in non-fiction ghost books.
All book lovers and avid readers, whatever type of book or subject matter they’re into, are faced with one great big non-negotiable truth – YOU’LL NEVER READ THEM ALL.
In the last half century, visions of Dalston have been refracted in many different ways, from cult 1950s novels, 90s Yardie tales, angst-ridden millennial films to the clean windows of hip coffee shops. But for me, as an ex-resident, its pulsing, vital heart remains the stalls and sounds and crush of Ridley Road Market.