Posts tagged contemporary fiction

Dog and Butterfly

Tolstoy famously wrote that “All happy families are alike”, but John Philip Riffice’s novel Dog and Butterfly proves that all good rules also have their exceptions. It’s a novel about a family that is, in general, very happy. The love between Jimmy and his mother and his Uncle Cam is tangible from the first page to the last. And yet it’s a very distinct, interesting family, with a story that’s worth telling. I think it’s much harder to write a book like this. Fiction tends to feed on conflict, and as… Read More

“Saturday” by Ian McEwan

Not my favourite McEwan – that is Atonement by a long way. This was OK, a more meditative book, full of long meandering passages from the head of Henry Perowne, a successful neurosurgeon living in Marylebone with his successful wife and talented blues-musician son, awaiting the return from France of his beautiful and talented and successful daughter. A man so ridiculously successful, in fact, that you just know something really bad is going to happen to him. He’s got a big metaphorical “KICK ME” sign taped to his back from… Read More

“Best European Fiction 2010” edited by Aleksandar Hemon

This was a very interesting collection of short stories from around Europe. There’s one piece from each country, so it really felt like a broad and varied collection rather than being weighted toward particular countries. One thing I didn’t like is that some of them were extracts from longer pieces, which I don’t think works very well. A short story is crafted specifically to fit that length; an extract from a novel, no matter how well-written, often feels dissatisfying to me because I feel as if I’m missing things by… Read More

British “state of the nation” novels

One of my fellow Legend Press authors, Mark Piggott, wrote an interesting article in the Independent about ‘state of the nation’ novels. I thought it would be complaining that nobody’s writing about contemporary British issues these days – there’s been quite a bit of that recently, because historical novels have been getting a lot of the awards and attention lately. But he takes a more interesting line, noting that historical novels have been getting the attention, but pointing out the wealth of books tackling contemporary issues (of which mine is… Read More