A brief appreciation of Jonathan Raban, upon his death.
Middlemarch – despite predictably squealing ‘Nooooooo, don’t do it’ as Dorothea Brooke settled on the notion that the ridiculously dusty Casaubon would make the perfect husband, and then, experiencing similar stomach-pit lurchings when Lydgate started making eyes at Rosamond Vincy, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Who is, or was Mr Magenta? A bookish mystery set in South London.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the page-turner’s brooding sibling – what might be termed the chapter-jammer, perhaps, the leaf-stopper, the mind seizer, or more literally, the corner folder.
If I could travel back in time to visit the me of ten years ago, when I started writing this blog, to tell myself that he/I would still be doing it a decade later, I doubt I would have been believed. That I would be writing this anniversary piece under the shadow of a global coronavirus pandemic, as the UK entered its third national lockdown in a year, would have been a greater surprise than the fact Richly Evocative was still going – but only slightly.
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 rant about ‘gatekeeping’ in so-called ‘New Nature Writing’. Since then, I’ve tightened it up a little, and updated some of the links, esp. re lack of diversity in nature writing, creeping nativism and more.
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.