Date Archives April 2009

Wislawa Szymborska

Just discovered the work of Wislawa Szymborska through a poem reprinted in an old edition of New Internationalist from last year. It was called Psalm and I thought it was a beautiful and humorous poem, perfectly illustrating the absurdity of man-made borders. Here are the first few lines to give an idea: How leaky are the borders we draw around… Read More

“Mr Palomar” by Italo Calvino

Mr. Palomar sets out to examine every possible aspect of his life and the world around him, trying to name everything and categorise everything scientifically. Of course he fails, and it’s in the episodes of life squirming away from his rigid attempts at classification that the absurd humour comes. The arrangement of the book corresponds to Palomar’s classification attempts, being… Read More

Present-tense novels

I was experimenting with writing my next novel in the present tense. For a while it went well. The present tense felt more immediate, a little fresher, and was appropriate to the story I was trying to tell. But gradually I began to feel constricted. The present tense seemed to work well for describing scenes as they were happening, but… Read More

Monday Morning Inspiration

I often find myself reading something beautiful over the weekend, only to forget it as I get all caught up in the craziness of the week. So I thought I’d start posting some inspirational quotes here each Monday morning, in the hope that some of them stick with me through the week. Feel free to play along with me if… Read More

“An Elegy for Easterly” by Petina Gappah

This debut short-story collection by Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah is a wonderful read. The tone of each one is perfect: the language is consistently beautiful but also completely natural. You get to know the characters very quickly, through small details artfully described, and are left at just the right moment to move on to the next tale. The title gives… Read More

Melting ice shelfs

Do you ever have that experience where something you’ve known for a long time suddenly hits you as it’s never hit you before? That happened to me this weekend. Here’s what set it off. Every few days another huge chunk of ice seems to break off from Antarctica. Last week, for example, the Wilkins Ice Shelf broke off on Monday…. Read More

“A Time to Tell” by Maria Savva

This is a novel about secrets. It begins with Cara as a young woman attempting suicide, and most of the novel takes place in Cara’s old age, as many of the secrets within her family begin to unravel. From the first scene, the first big secret is born. Cara is attempting suicide because she’s discovered that her lover Frederick is… Read More