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Showing posts from August, 2011

British Library

Under the Influence

One of the best apps on the iPhone is The Browser. Similar to Arts & Letters Daily it collates and selects quality articles and then categorises them - this way I get to read a wide range of material from international journals and magazines that I may not know about otherwise. However, it also has its own material. FiveBooks conducts interviews leading figures to ask what they think are the best five books in a particular field. The most recent one I found illuminating centred on the choices of veteran literary critic, Shakespeare-ophile and writer, Harold Bloom. His five books on literary criticism are here, and they should be made space for on the shelves of anyone interested in pursuing the study of literature. But what I found more interesting about the interview that is conducted with him using the books as the premise, was the thread of mentorship and friendship that runs throughout. Harold Bloom is 81 years old and it is remarkable that he knows - or knew - all five of the…


Next month I hope to write a London specific range of posts. September marks sixteen years since I arrived in London, and I took to it like the duck to the proverbial. As I walked down Embankment on my way to work this morning I realised that I love it now more than ever - its extremes, its history present everywhere, its amazing greenery, the river (both sides), and the diversity of people, and many, thought not all, of its institutions. It has afforded me many educations - mental, sensual, emotional, spiritual, and physical. It has many delights for literary types, some of which I hope to explore through writing.

Next book

The reason for the 3-week gap in posts is due to my starting a new full-time job. I've still tweaks to make to my PhD but it's basically there. So the other week I said to myself, I'm not going to try too hard to think about what I should write next - I'll see what rakes root. And I've been brought back to my Mum's book. When I think of the last version of it - for which I was granted an Arts Council award - I cringe. I tried to fictionalise it because I coldnt cope with the truth of her life. But yesterday I was reading the current issue of the Times Lit Supp and it featured a review of a book on the Catholic martyr, Margaret Clitherow, who was crushed to death in the sixteenth century. When she died her hand was cut off and kept as a relic (as you do) and is still housed at a convent in York. The reason that this review struck a chord and reinforced the feeling that I should attempt my Mum's book again is because my Mum once went to visit that hand, whils…

Presidential reading

The reason I opened the last post asking what Cameron may have been reading (not the thinking public's mind or mood, that's for sure) was because it was going to lead into a comment on an article into the books that Obama has read since assuming office. The list is here, and it is fairly impressive. I was glad to see that Pultitzer Prize winner Paul Harding's Tinkers is there - a gem of a book. And poet Derek Walcott.

Cameron on morality

What was the last book that David Cameron read? I don't know, but maybe it would be about learning to delegate public relations, because he's making a hash of it, as with much of everything else. Having just gone on his fifth break in 7.5 months the Express published commentary by him in which he talked of the UK in slow motion moral decline, whilst hinting that human rights are a waste of time. Fine, you may think that he's entitled to spout whatever mindless, reactionary rhetoric that he likes. Except the paper that he chose to write for is owned by a pornographer - Richard Desmond - who has just resurrected that archetype of cultural decline - Celebrity Big Brother. What I question more about Cameron than anything else is his obvious blindness to his own blatant hypocricy - anyone with half a brain - and bear in mind that this is a PM of a country still trying to unravel and unsucker the poisonous tentacles of the Murdoch media empire from our politics, (including his f…

Dreamers of a New Day - Sheila Rowbotham (Verso)

Sheila Rowbotham has a new book out. Dreamers of a New Day: Women who Invented the Twentieth Century (Verso), is described as 'a lively, groundbreaking study in women's history that diversifies our understanding of the early women's movement'. Im hoping it will be the first book I read once this PhD is submitted. There's a very good outline of it here, with glowing encomiums. The cover's nice too!