Date Archives November 2009


All is well, despite the silence. I’ve been putting all my energy into winning a short story contest. With a ¬£25,000 prize and a star-studded judging panel, I’m expecting the competition to be fierce. To win, I think I’ll have to write something better than anything I’ve written before. The deadline is next Monday at 5pm, and at this rate I’ll be taking a taxi across London and hand-delivering it at 4:59. But I will finish, and I will enter the contest. Winning or not winning¬†is out of my hands,… Read More

Borges marathon, part 1: The Cruel Redeemer Lazarus Morell

So I had this great idea to write a separate review for every short story every written by the master of short stories (or short fictions as they’re often called, for reasons that will become apparent), Jorge Luis Borges. I’m not sure how great this great idea is, but I’ll get started anyway. I’m going to move chronologically, using the order in the Collected Fictions, from the first book ‘A Universal History of Iniquity’ (1935) right through to ‘Shakespeare’s Memory (1983). That means that the first story to review is… Read More

“Collected Fictions” by Jorge Luis Borges

With this book, I have to admit defeat, or at least a change of plan. I wanted to review every book I read on this site, but I can’t review this. How to reduce the life work of one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th century to a single blog post? It can’t be done. If I had skimmed the book or felt more neutral about it, it might be possible. But I loved this book. I read it first when I got a copy from the library… Read More

“The Writer as Migrant” by Ha Jin

These are three essays on the notion of migration for the writer, mostly explained through other writers such as Nabokov, Conrad, Kundera and Naipaul. In the first essay, The Spokesman & the Tribe, Jin explores the balance between the individual and the collective, and asks to what extent a writer can ‘speak for’ his nation or people, especially if he has abandoned them to live in a new country. I was interested in his initial desire as a young writer to write “on behalf of the downtrodden Chinese”. He makes… Read More

Monday morning inspiration

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. – Mother Teresa