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Showing posts from January, 2008

Walking the city at night

The City is Mine, a great piece in today's Guardian by Kate Pullinger. She champions women night-walkers, which isn't as seedy as it sounds! I love walking at night - or, I used to. Haven't done it in ages. I should start again. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think, I'd quite like a nice walk through the dark, empty streets.

Leslie Ash should give the money back to the NHS - where it belongs.

I don't usually use this blog to comment on non-literary/book related stuff but rules need to be broken. Leslie Ash, as most people now know, has been awarded £5m from the NHS for the injuries she was left with after contracting MSSA - similar to MRSA, a hospital-acquired infection nonetheless. That Ash contracted MSSA was terrible, so were the injuries she was left with. No one can or should deny that. But, come on! Five million?? I feel more disgusted because, before my dad died in March he contracted MRSA whilst in the Manchester Royal Infirmary. It was, to coin a cliche, just another incident in what had been a 'catalogue of errors' covering a significant timespan. I'd had enough and decided to seek out legal advice. We couldn't afford to just pay a solicitor and then legal fees to take the case to court. So I contacted no win/no fee specialists as well as those specialising in medical negligence cases. They all said pretty much the same thing - if the MRSA kil…

Hotel du Lac

Last night I finished reading Anita Brookner's 1984 Booker Prize winning novel, Hotel du Lac. I assumed it was also set in the early eighties, but I wasn't too sure because there were few signifiers. It evoked the era of the New Woman at the end of the nineteenth century, beginning of the twentieth though, which is probably why it worked so well. It had that singular focus that I too quickly lose faith in when I try and write in that way, but which I much prefer as a reader, and which is the main characteristic of all my favourite novels.
The fact that the main character, Edith, (another signifier of past times) had been likened by her friends as looking like Virginia Woolf didn't help as everything I associate with her kept crowding in. But it was quietly heartbreaking. Just when I thought it would end, resolved, it didn't. It was crowded with lonely women and cold men. OK, it was overwhelmingly upper middle-class, but I can fully understand why it won the Booker.

Funding crisis?

2008 was never going to get off to a good start with the 'credit crunch/squeeze' and the infection of the US subprime mortgage market doom mongers screaming from every corner. No surprise then that the doom mongering has reached arts funding. There has been lots of news about the Arts Council for England's cuts. Dedalus, a publisher specialising in literary translations, is one such victim. They haven't been short of supporters though. The Guardian's blogosphere has been up in arms. Today, however, we get another side, from the ACE itself. Chief Executive Antonia Byatt posted a blog on GU today stating that publishers like Tindal Street and Bloodaxe were actually going to receive increased funding! But Im still confused. There is still a lack of clarity as to who is in danger - and who isn't. Also, whilst I very much admire both Bloodaxe and Tindal Street, doesn't the fact that these are two well respected publishers of major award winning work now mean tha…

Out on April 3rd - A Clockwork Apple

"A dazzling new voices bursts through the tired old ceiling of English fiction. Belinda Webb is a writer to watch." Will Self

MA - Done!

Yesterday, after work, I schlepped upto the University of Westminster and handed in my last piece of coursework for the MA in English Literature - the dissertation (on Pat Barker's first three novels if you're interested)! I wasn't happy with it - could have done better, blah blah blah - but it's done and dusted and now out of my hands. Thankfully. But, even at the weekend, when I was giving it the last once over, I was thinking...Phd? My mind is now parading a whole string of possible Phd topics at regular intervals to remind me how much I want to do it - my mind craves it. But there are, of course, the 'realistic' considerations. Like money. Like work. Like my 'career', also known as 'the job'. Like, like, like!! Not like! Then I think what if I do a Phd in Creative Writing, and not in English Literature? I'd be able to be open about writing that historical novel I have in mind that way. Then I could teach whilst writing, as, apparently, g…

First great read of 2008 - Malamud

OK, I began reading The Assistant, by Bernard Malamud, a couple of weeks ago, but I finished it just five minutes ago so that makes it my first great read of the year. Had I finished it yesterday it would have took rightful place amongst my favourite few of 07. I had heard Malamud praised in a few quarters but had been a bit slow. The Assistant is one of those rare, understated, poetic and tragic novels that touches on emotions, and experiences I forgot I had. The writing reminded me of Richard Yates. Clean. Spare. Yet full of feeling. It is also a very Jewish novel and Malamud includes the idiosyncracies of the Yiddish/Brooklyn dialect which is wonderfully conveyed. The struggling immigrant experience is one I relate to strongly through my dad and this book shows that the immigrant experience is not just about an actual immigrant but also the assistant of the title, a struggling petty criminal and wanderer who grew up in orphanages and who is totally lost.
I have never been one…