Saturday, 25 April 2009

A paradox

I'm enjoying having a significant amount of extra writing time at the moment. However, it's a beautiful paradox that the more time I have to write, the more time I need - the more time I want.

Have not been quite so present at this blog recently because I'm ploughing a lot more hours into redrafting Number Two and mapping out other writing projects. And enjoying almost every single minute of it.

Only almost, because every once in a while I get hit with that crisis of confidence, when I convince myself I can't write for shite, and need to give myself a serious talking-to. But then a sentence works out better than I expected and... the show's back on the road... until the next puncture.

Anyway, if there are lengthy absences here every once in a while, then that's the reason: I'm totally absorbed in writing something else, and will endeavour to bring the blog up to date as soon as I can. Okay?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Recent reads

A couple of light, but enjoyable reads recently.

Shaun Tan's collection of quirky and very short pieces, accompanied by his surreal illustrations (always puts me in mind of the surrealist Yves Tanguy) - Tales From Outer Suburbia.

And Paul Torday's humorous Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (put me in mind of the TV show Yes, Minister).

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Stunning review at The Compulsive Reader

The day before the interview with Magdalena Ball, was delighted to get this ripper review from her on The Compulsive Reader site:

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Interview with Magdalena Ball

To hear Magdalena Ball's interview with me on blogtalkradio, click:

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Coming soon

Yep, I know I wrote 4th April when I meant 7th April - it's the date format 4.7.2009 versus my more familiar 7.4.2009 that always defeats me - but the interview with Magdalena Ball is going to happen on Blog Talk Radio this Tuesday, the seventh of April. The sixth of April will happen first and the eighth of April will arrive soon after, so it's gonna be sometime between those two days. Sorry for any confusion (welcome to my world!).

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Recent Reads

My introduction to Ian McEwan's writing was through the wonderful The Cement Garden in the early Eighties. I loved the tautness of the writing - how the words seemed to be tugged tighter by each tension in the story until it seemed impossible for something not to snap.

Almost twenty years later, I picked up Amsterdam from a bookshop in Cardigan, Wales (which has long since stopped trading), and found this a difficult book to enjoy. As I remember, it seemed very introspective and made me feel as if I was at a wake, which may have been the intention as the action centres around the death of Molly Lane and begins with her funeral. Even though I didn't particularly enjoy it, rather than leave the book in Britain I posted it to myself in Australia so that it could sit next to The Cement Garden on my bookshelf.

A couple of years back, I bought On Chesil Beach and found it a difficult book to put down. Loved it. Looked forward to coming home from work and putting that side of the day behind me so that I could stretch out and wallow in his prose. If ever a piece of writing was so evocative that it not only transported me back to a different period of time but made feel like the proverbial fly on the wall, then this was it.

Last week, I tried Saturday. After 20 pages, I was invoking my 40--80 page rule: if it doesn't grab me by that point, I let myself decide that it isn't the book for me and that I needn't persevere. (I have to tell myself this because, for many years, I found it impossible not to finish a book once I'd begun.) At page 72, I stopped reading. It's powerful writing and convincing, but I didn't feel that was enough.

There's a section on page 67 that caught my attention, where Perowne, a neurosurgeon, is talking about some of the classics that his daughter has set him the task of reading (
Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary) and notes: '
If, as Daisy said, the genius was in the detail, then he was unmoved. The details were apt and convincing enough, but surely not so very difficult to marshal if you were halfway observant and had the patience to write them all down... They had the virtue, at least, of representing a recognisable physical reality...'

I sensed at this point that what Ian McEwan might be working towards in Saturday was to move the reader in the way that Perowne wasn't, for the detail he provides, second by second at times, is minute and convincing. It struck me as a neat idea, although it didn't move me enough by page 72 to keep me interested (I prefer broad brushstrokes to microscopic detail these days, I think). As far as Saturday is concerned, and knowing that I was tired when reading it, I'll defer to a friend who stayed with Preowne, who found the descriptions of neurosurgery convincing and compelling, and who certainly enjoyed it.

Sometimes, enjoying a book, I find, can come down to mood or level of alertness when you're starting it, or what your life needs at that particular time. However, if the pattern I've
established holds true, I'm sure to enjoy the next Ian McEwan book regardless of that.