Author Archive


This story of a young woman slowly prising herself free from a dead marriage and discovering the Earth come to life around her in ways that she had never expected, is the eternal experience of a brightening morning after dark, moribund night. It reflects my own up and down relationship with the book itself: the mechanical dissonance versus the emotional intelligence. It’s also the kind of tale rarely told in environmentally-focussed books: more a celebration of what surrounds us than a mourning for what we have destroyed.

Dr Franklin’s Staticy Cat and Other Unbelievable Tales

So it turns out that ‘Dr Franklin’ is a reference after all—but to a different doctor than the one I had in mind. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so let’s just say that the title story is a brief but delightful re-imagining of a tale that most children on Rolli’s side of the Atlantic will likely be familiar with; a re-imagining that combines lessons in both science and history with the author’s ever-inventive, almost absurd, take on life.

Three Uses of the Knife

Mamet’s opening line stops me in my tracks. ‘It is in our nature to dramatize.’ (p.1) Well, really? Let’s unravel this: dramatisation is part of human behaviour, we dramatise—this is very obvious. An organism’s ‘nature’ is, by definition, what it does. Maybe I’m falling prey to my own critique of the shiftless modern reader, but isn’t this a little prosaic…


A nauseating wave of vertigo just washed over me. I’m learning about writing screenplays from the screenplay of a film about a screenwriter writing the screenplay for a film that characterises both the author and subject of the book on which both real and fictional films and screenplays are based. It’s a good job I was prescribed some strong antacids by my doctor last week.

The Heath Introduction to Fiction, 6th Edition

The Internet, in spite of its negative aspects, provides an opportunity to diversify. We have easier access to global fiction and a much larger map of less familiar worlds than ever before in our history. We should explore those worlds fully with innocent, wondering eyes, not thrash around in their waters…

God’s Autobio

Short stories, when well-written, are not forgettable because they are ineffective, or lack meaning, but because so many come at such a quick pace, wave after wave crashing upon you before you can draw another breath. Therefore, to anyone who might read this book, my advice is to take your time. Enjoy each tale as it comes, and resist the impulse to move immediately on to the next one. Appreciate each…

Deadeye Dick

What a start. I’ve never read a better description of life contained within such a sparse number of words. In three tiny paragraphs, Vonnegut captures all of its wonder and all of its pointlessness; the hellishness of being born into a world where countless billion human lives have already…

The Morning After John Lennon Was Shot

The Morning After John Lennon Was Shot was described as ‘…a satire on the so-called men’s movement—where men gather in a group to tell their primal story, the single great mythic journey of their lives during which all truths are revealed’ and set, as the title suggests, in the…

Rock Music in American Culture

Three weeks spent reading this book from cover to cover has retuned my mind to many of the values imbued by my earliest, most intimate, experiences of music.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

This is a story of marginalisation: marginalisation of Dominican immigrants in the United States, their marginalisation at home under the Trujillo dictatorship, and Oscar’s personal marginalisation from, well, pretty much everybody! By interrupting…

Madame Bovary

While the first line of the book allows for a convincingly boyish description of Charles’ first day at school (with tackily flamboyant cap in tow), are we to believe that one of his schoolmates then decides to stalk him, his wife and his future neighbour for the next forty years of their lives? It seems odd that…

Moll Flanders

Despite having complained earlier that London men marry only for their own financial advantage, she deserts her ‘citizen’ and marries the brother of her friend because she thinks he has more wealth. Okay, so hypocrisy is human, but surely she must recognise her u-turn, give it some acknowledgement?

Reviewer Spotlight: Gareth Long

Which book do you feel obligated to read next? I rarely feel obliged to read books at the moment. Either I want to read them, or I don’t read them! This might change soon, as I’m hopefully joining an MA Creative Writing course and will have to cope with set texts. At the moment I’ve finally got round to reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley though.


The creature described here far better conveys the notion of disparate human parts sewn together into a living ragdoll, creating a more nightmarish apparition than the budget-limited design of Universal. Yet it is the latter that has persisted through so many incarnations. The question of why this should be is not something I intend to consider in a review of the book (although I might archly suggest that…