Monday, 28 September 2009

Recent Reads

Had a good run of books recently. Pleasurable reads. Sometimes nothing seems to satisfy, but then several good reads in a row come along. This run began with Jae Watson's Journey (Legend Press). Put if off for a while because I didn't like the cover, but once I opened it the quality narrative hooked me quickly and I loved the descriptions of Marianne and Sara's journey through India. I found the characters interesting, which they've got to be if you're going to tag along on this sort of journey with them, and I admire the way Jae Watson handled the mystery of Sara's death, dropping some tremendous surprises along the way. 'Following the break-up of her relationship and unsure of her life's direction, Marianne leaves a London still reverberating from the terrorist bombings to travel for a year with the mysterious and beautiful Sara...'

Next came
Streakers (PaperBooks), Gary Davison's second novel. This is a fun read from start to finish, and I got the sense that he had a great time writing it. It comes through every page, which makes it a page-turner! Having had a chat with Gary about this (and who's currently running a short story competition over at his website), I have to agree that it would make a great film: very visual and vibrant - a book bursting with antics and energy. It put me in mind of The Full Monty, even though the storyline is nothing alike; possibly because it shares the same gritty, irreverent humour and is a celebration of determination against all odds. 'Faccome FC are playing at home when the crowd erupts and a masked streaker sprints across the pitch...'

Alternated reading
Streakers with Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange (Penguin). This is one book I've been meaning to read for years and years. Have seen Stanley Kubrick's movie, but somehow failed to get round to the book... until now. The Penguin plain cover branding - reminiscent of Penguin's covers from the 1960s - is probably one reason I finally picked it up: great cover, great novel. 'Fifteen-year-old Alex and his thrill-seeking gang regularly indulge in ultra-violence, rape and drugs...' (Found Blake Morrison's introduction good value too.)

Number four was a re-read: William Maxwell's
So Long, See You Tomorrow (Panther). I first read this in 2000, and the narrative style made a big impression on me at the time - sparse, slightly distant. Wanted to get the feel of that again. Wasn't quite so strong this time for me, perhaps because I was expecting it, but still a beautifully written book: 'A murder in rural Illinois shatters the tenuous friendship between two lonely boys...'

Monday, 21 September 2009

Back in blogdom

Gary Davison's short story competition is building up steam. He's announced the judges and is posting the occasional profile, and the choice of inspirational titles and opening sentences will be published on Monday 28th September (courtesy of *cough, cough* yours truly). For full details click here.

I like Gary's idea for the small entry fee, and wish I'd thought of som
ething like this myself. Instead of charging a flat fee, as many writing competitions do, all that competitors have to do is purchase a copy of his latest novel Streakers from Amazon and post a brief review of it there. It's a neat idea, and not just from a marketing perspective, but because it ensures that, even if competitors don't win one of the significant prizes, they'll still have a book to keep. I guess that's a win-win situation.

By the by, the final part of my interview with Dmetri Kakmi recently appeared in The View From Here, and the UK edition of his excellent me
moir Mother Land will be released by Eland in the next few days.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Interviewing Dmetri Kakmi at The View From Here

Over at The View From Here, I've just posted the first part of an interview with Dmetri Kakmi, author of the fabulous memoir Mother Land. I interviewed Dmetri last year for the Ex Libris Book Fair and recently finished transcribing that section of the interview I recorded. Wander across and have a read: click here or there. He's a very interesting bloke, great fun to talk with and, drawing on his experience as both a writer and an editor, provides a number of valuable insights about the nature of fiction and non-fiction and about the processes of writing.

At the moment, I'm putting together some opening lines and titles for a short story competition that Gary Davison has organised, but more on that in a couple of days.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Hong Kong... and London

Browsing through a few holiday pics, thought I might put up 2 or 3 from Hong Kong. These were taken along Star Quay in Kowloon - hand-prints of Hong Kong actors in the paving stones, statues along the front, that sort of thing. I often take photos of people taking photos, it seems; love the way we pose in front of icons.

The mock film posters were part of an art installation. Was amused by what the artist chose to say about London.