At The Playground You Meet Someone Amazing – A new short story

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 […]

So Long, Whale Bum

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.                    


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, […]


  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 […]

Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick: Review

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: Review

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 […]