Introducing DI Garibaldi

DI Garibaldi is the non-driving, country-music loving, poetry-quoting detective who makes his fictional debut in The Final Round . How did I create him? Where did he come from? The first thing that came was the name – Garibaldi. That’s Garibaldi as in the biscuit and as in the key figure in the unification of … Read more

Hanging out on Hydra with Leonard Cohen – Polly Samson’s ‘A Theatre for Dreamers’

  I read ‘A Theatre for Dreamers’ in a couple of sittings, becoming so immersed in its sense of place and time that I almost forgot about the current state of the world. It may have helped that the novel is set in Hydra, a place to which I feel a strong emotional connection, and … Read more

Nick Hornby’s ‘State of The Union’ and The Guardian Crossword

Having read Lucy Mangan’s five star review in The Guardian – https://bit.ly/2lDUV58  I went into my viewing of Nick Hornby’s State of the Union determined to follow her advice not to binge it all in one sitting. I failed. Ten ten-minute dramas. I wolfed the whole lot down. Short-form comedy, I’m sure, is not meant to … Read more

What I don’t get about Sally Rooney’s Normal People

On the second page of Sally Rooney’s universally acclaimed, Booker- longlisted novel is the following paragraph: ‘He puts his hands in his pockets and suppresses an irritable sigh, but suppresses it with an audible intake of breath, so that it still sounds like a sigh.’ What? I get the hand in the pockets bit, but … Read more

Review of Roddy Doyle’s Smile

WARNING: contains spoilers As soon as you reach the end of Roddy Doyle’s extraordinary novel, ‘Smile’, you’re tempted to go back and read it straight through again to work out whether you should have anticipated the narrative trick  Doyle has just pulled and whether or not the whole thing actually works. I have done just … Read more

Teaching ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Given the revived interest in Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (sales of the novel have increased dramatically since Trump’s election and a USA TV adaptation is to be screened by Channel 4 in the UK),  I found it interesting to look back at something I wrote in 1993 about  teaching it. An Approach To The … Read more

‘A’ for Ian McEwan’s ‘Nutshell

  Well, Ian, what can I say? You’ve done it again – out smarted your clever class-mates and dazzled your teacher with a real tour-de-force. Your classmates chose a more predictable approach. Many wrote as Gertrude (the closet scene being a particular favourite). Some opted for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, despite my warning that this had … Read more

1971 — The Greatest Year in Rock — Never A Dull Moment

Whoever said that writing about music was like dancing about architecture (and I still can’t work out who it actually was) clearly hadn’t read ‘1971’, a brilliant book which shows that when David Hepworth writes about music it’s like losing yourself on the dance floor to your favourite song or admiring a particularly beautiful building. Hepworth’s thesis … Read more