I’ve been reading The Golden Bough recently – an old 1920s work on myth and magic in ancient societies around the world. It talks a lot about vegetation deities – corn gods, maize gods, rice gods, etc. There are striking parallels in early beliefs around the world, in places that as far as we know [...]
Archive | April, 2010
I was always going to enjoy this book. I have loved Russian literature from an early age, and this short story collection is a Hall of Fame of Russian literature. With a few exceptions, which the editor Robert Chandler highlights in his introduction, the big names are all here. The main omissions are Gorky, Grossman, [...]
Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too. Esther Freud The Guardian, Feb 2010
A lot has been made of how frank this biography is. It’s certainly true that V.S. Naipaul gave his biographer Patrick French access to a huge amount of material, including things that other people would have tried to keep quiet about. For example the racism, the bigotry, the use of prostitutes, the affairs, the betrayals, [...]
This is a very useful basic guide to writing short stories. Most of it I have read or heard elsewhere (e.g. “show, don’t tell” – ever heard that one before?), but what I found useful was the examples used to illustrate the lessons. The examples were good because I’ve always thought of formulas for writing [...]
You see more sitting still than chasing after. Jonathan Franzen The Guardian, Feb 2010
This is an excellent introduction to the theory of diasporas, a term which has expanded considerably in recent years from its original use in the Jewish Diaspora to describe all kinds of cultural and ethnic dispersions. Cohen starts by defining common features of diaspora: Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or more [...]
Just had a little blast from the future. With books being digitised and searchable on Google, will authors start writing books with their Google search ranking in mind? You know how these days there’s Search Engine Optimisation, where people try to design their blogs or websites so that they appear at the top of a [...]
Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free. – Anne Enright The Guardian, Feb 2010
Lady Glamis just wrote a great series on short story writing. It includes a useful list of markets to submit to, loads of good advice, and also a short story contest. So if you have a story to submit, do send it in for the contest – prize is $50 plus a full critique and [...]
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