My Year of Reading a Bit More than I Usually Do

This time last year, inspired by Andy Miller’s excellent ‘My Year of Reading Dangerously’, I wrote this – . The idea was to spend 2015 reading a bit more than I usually do. History suggested that this New Year’s Resolution was likely to go the way of all previous ones, the early January flame of enthusiasm … Read more

What I don’t get about ‘Not Now Bernard’

There are many books I don’t get ( see, for example, ‘What I don’t get about Stoner’ –, but I was surprised last week to discover that I might have been misreading my all-time favourite for many years. The book in question is David McKee’s ‘Not Now Bernard’, and it’s my favourite for several reasons: 1. It … Read more

Boyhood, Hydra, and Leonard Cohen

Watching Richard Linklater’s brilliant ‘Boyhood’ left me asking the impossible question posed in that old Fairport Convention song -“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” The film shows a boy growing into a young man, but it does so by filming him and his family in real time. They all, literally, age before your eyes and … Read more

The literary thwack!

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! As I grow older one of the sounds which gives me increasing satisfaction is the thud of books hitting my bedroom wall. This is not, I hasten to add, the result of a strange literary fetish. It’s what happens when I decide I can go no further with whatever it is I … Read more

The Great Gatsby Revisited — or why it’s really all about Nick

Watching Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version of The Great Gatsby has made me realise just how much my reading of the novel has changed over the years. When I first read it as an impressionable seventeen-year-old I didn’t really notice Nick – all my attention was focused on the mysterious central character, the man whose capacity … Read more

What I don’t get about ‘Stoner’

John Williams’s ‘Stoner’ is undoubtedly a great novel, worthy of rediscovery and of the universal praise it has received. There is, though, one scene in it which I still find troubling and which, to be frank, I still don’t quite get.  This is not a minor scene. It is an absolutely pivotal part of the … Read more