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Showing posts from July, 2009

Booker longlist announced

Yes, it's been a whole year since the last Booker longlist was announced. Oh, how time flies. Full list here. Some of the names are so predictable. But I'm glad to see Colm Toibin's Brooklyn make it. Maybe I will be championing that like I did for Barry's The Secret Scripture from last year?

Cycling, Classified, Poems, Burns & Engels and Love's Executioner

Ever since I got my bicycle a couple of months ago I've noticed articles and cycling campaigns everywhere. Today's Observer Review has a feature on cycling, including a group of retro fashionista cyclists! I put my bike in for a service yesterday morning because in the short time I've had it I've trashed it somewhat. I went crashing into a car a few weeks after getting it and broke the rear mud-guard, and then the chain guard became buckled so......and I'm getting it back tomorrow, hopefully feeling all brand new again, in time to cycle into the west end. Yesterday it was off to Tate Britain, not to the usual Pre-Raphaelites, but to Classified, billed as a 'rare chance to see exceptional works by today's leading artists'. The Chapman brothers collection of Ronald McDonald African type artefacts was both aptly dark and sinister but most other works left me somewhat cold, save for a dark brown block painting of tree trunks, though I forget the name of the…

Poetry for the mind

I don't often post links to stories from regional newspapers, probably because all the 'best' stories are picked up by the nationals anyway. However, I liked this one from a regional in Morpeth, about a former mental health patient putting together a poetry anthology featuring her own work as well as her former fellow patients.

Frank McCourt

Irish-American writer, Frank McCourt has died aged 78. His memoir, Angela's Ashes, recounted his early years in America and then moving back to Limerick to continue his miserable Irish-Catholic childhood. Read more here.

Reading...

I've spent the past day and a half reading When Nietzsche Wept, bit of a review will follow in due course. I'm also about to start reading Jung, by Anthony Storr. Storr, as I mentioned in a post from last year, wrote the brilliant Solitude.

Waiting at the cross-roads...

Yes, having decided to allow myself the luxury of some time off writing my Mary Burns story, I have begun to see more clearly my processes of blocks. The last block I had, to do with an older woman character in the book, to whom I had unwittingly given the star role in order to mediate Mary's story as I had originally thought would be in-credible to give an apparently illiterate character her own direct voice, was cleared up when I pushed her into the background and gave Mary the rightful star role. This block was cleared when I dealt with a similiar situation in my own life. This current block comes as Mary is about to meet Fred! So. I'm not even going to begin to unravel that one just yet, but the main question is how do they meet? Do they flirt or fight? It is said that Mary was 'selling oranges' in the Hall of Science and Fred was a regular visitor to such places. Fred Engels also seemed to like women who sold 'oranges'. I had taken the selling oranges quit…

Eagleton and the New Atheists

Eagleton and the New Atheists sounds like some dodgy New Romantic pop group, but, thankfully not. Here's an interesting interview conducted by Laurie Taylor with Terry Eagleton in The New Humanist on Manchester's intellectual enfant terrible's problem with what he calls Ditchkins - Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. I'm not sure. Which is a way of covering up the fact I haven't read the entire interview. I'm just not entirely sure of Eagleton's brand of Catholic Marxism.

Reading...

OK, so I'm struggling with getting words on paper/screen again! But that does not mean I'm not reading and cogitating. Adam Gould to one side and am dipping into Cioran's The Temptation to Exist (love it) and Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. The Penguin Classic edition says 'Thus Spoke...' but in some places it is 'spake' and I prefer spake so spake it is! Next week I am hoping to hear back on a couple of things, well, at least one thing, that I've got 'out there'. My expectation around it is, I feel quite low and rightly so, because the formal criteria of one of the projects submitted has not been met to the letter - depends on how it is viewed! It called for 'bold' and mine was 'quietly bold', but can something be both quiet and bold? We shall see. If I don't post about it then the answer is a resounding 'no'. Rules are made to be broken though so I'm not going to go there with that one - it's all a m…

mad-fic and showing, not telling

Yesterday I read of Julia O'Faolain's novel, Adam Gould, in the Literary Review. I then went over and bought it and now kinda wished I hadn't. It seemed such a great story - Adam Gould, an Irish lapsed priest is in a Parisian asylum in the second half of the nineteenth century, looking after the French writer/journalist Guy de Maupassant. I like de Maupassant. I went through a de Maupassant glut about ten years ago. Absolutely adored Butterball and Bel-Ami, but there is something about the way O'Faolain writes that is both highly accomplished but also detached, if that makes sense? Maybe it is just me, because yesterday I also went to the cinema with a friend to see Public Enemies. Johnny Depp, as always, looked fabulous. His hair was a masterpiece, if one can say that about a man's short back and slightly longer sides? Christian Bale cannot be fanciable, alas, with such a thin joker-ish mouth! Yet this Michael Mann film was shot beautifully and with real power, gr…

Writing, clever kids, and radio 4 class battles

I've managed to get 30,000 words through this new revised draft of Mary Burns, 15,000 of which I managed this week. Now, I'm not in any way claiming that most of these words are made of sugar, most of them will be pure shite, but I feel I must spew the story out onto the page first and then go back and cut and mould the way a sculptor would do once they've thrown the wet clay onto the board. But I'm still very anxious about it and feel I should have managed another 15,000! Writing, I am really learning, is a hard slog; a process, not an event. I'm also looking to turn some of my attention back to the northern soul screenplay as that has also had some interest this week and so I now feel there is some urgency around it. Did I say I also had a day job and want to start dating again? There seems little time for any fun at the moment. Yet I am having some fun.

Today I went to a lovely garden party of a good friend who was celebrating his twenty-fifth wedding anniversar…