My mother had a stroke. Luckily, it was quite minor. She was still able to read, though more slowly. There was a gap in her vision – an absence where sight simply didn’t take place. Because of this, she wasn’t able to drive. My mother’s stroke changed our family. None of her children had started […]
A Voyage For Madmen by Peter Nichols My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is a good follow up to Bernard Moitessier’s The Long Way, but Peter Nichols is too head-screwed-on to get into the solo mindspace Moitessier reaches. What Peter Nichols is best at is giving a balanced view of the nine different men […]
This – a new story about the band called okay – has just gone online in The Manchester Review. To give you some idea how seriously I took it, that’s what I called my first solo album.
‘Defeat, and the vulnerability of admitting defeat is perhaps necessary to the tone of non-fiction.’
Some words on life-writing, time-envy, and getting the tone of your memoir right.
Why Souls? What could be more irrelevant? What’s Souls got to do with anything? You’re not going to go all Archbishop of Canterbury on us, are you? I do a Summer Lecture every year. When deciding what its subject is to be, I think about two things: What will be useful for you to hear, […]
Let’s start, and stick pretty close to, the reading I asked you to do – Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory; the opening chapters. Why did I choose this? No, let’s evade that for a moment – Why did I choose to talk about Sentences today? Last year, my lecture was on Sensibility […]
I don’t think you’re going to like this. It’s probably going to hurt. If it doesn’t hurt, there’s a problem. As part of your coursework, you’ll have read Flannery O’Connor’s essay ‘Writing Short Stories’. She begins by saying this: ‘I have heard people say that the short story was one of the most difficult […]
‘KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID’: MINIMALISM IN PROSE Kiss. K.I.S.S. Does anyone know what this stands for? Yes, this is the American playwright and screenwriter David Mamet’s famous formulation, which we are to imagine him muttering to himself as he bangs away at his typewriter: “Keep it simple, stupid.” I’m not going to be talking about […]
Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick My rating: 4 of 5 stars I am sure I did not find this novel – and the presence in it of Elizabeth Hardwick – as endearing as some readers will do. But I think that’s my fault. Elizabeth Hardwick is an America Virginia Woolf, concerned with peripheries and with […]
The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier My rating: 5 of 5 stars First published in 1973, if The Long Way is dated, it’s in a melancholy way. The book ends – after Moitessier’s circumnavigation and more – with the wise sailor encountering environmental destruction on Tahiti. He becomes engaged, politicized, after months of selfish (in […]