Thursday, 30 April 2009

Veggie Books: On Chesil Beach

They could see the beginnings of a footpath, dropping by muddy steps, a way lined by weeds of extravagant size - giant rhubarb and cabbages they looked like, with swollen stalks more than six feet tall, bending under the weight of the dark, thick-veined leaves. The garden vegetation rose up, sensuous and tropical in its profusion, an effect heightened by the grey, soft light and a delicate mist drifting in from the sea, whose steady motion of advance and withdrawal made sounds of gentle thunder, then sudden hissing against the pebbles.

Ian McEwan - a writer who knows how to use a comma.

I read On Chesil Beach on holiday, along with The Child in Time, and was captivated by them. Admittedly, they had an easy ride. I'd just finished Victoria Hislop's The Island (thinking it would be perfect reading material for Crete) and found the writing horrible, the characters flat and the plot mechanical. So going on to McEwan was a huge relief.

I wasn't without reservation, however. Other books I've read by him all had similar endings, where the beautiful writing gave way to a sudden rush of sexual violence that made me feel a bit soiled. I was certain On Chesil Beach would end with blood and death and general nastiness on the marital bed. But it didn't. It had the perfect ending. Phew.

Cabbage and rhubarb and a sowing of great commas - hurrah!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Turning Japanese

From the day-job, mainly to point out how HUGE m-novels are in Japan, Tokyo Real has sold over 5m copies, leading to 3m paperback sales. I kid you not:

Monday, 20 April 2009


Somewhat perturbed--read horrified--that The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin has been remade for the 'modern era'. And with Martin Clunes to boot. Is there any comedy actor less Leonard Rossiter-like?

In other news, I'm perfectly capable of doing cute kid posts. See accompanying pic of heiress to my misfortune.

Off to watch the return of Ashes to Ashes.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Veggie Books: Barking

A bit of Tom Holt to break up the monotony of a sunny Sunday afternoon. Or am I the only one who finds sunny afternoons depressing? Well, apart from the Kinks.

Duncan remembered a playground: early autumn, dry leaves drifting in on the wind from the plane trees that grew just outside the school gates. Hughes the new boy, just moved into the neighbourhood, uncrinkles the silver foil in which lurks his first packed lunch at Lycus Grove. He's nervous about anybody seeing; understandably, since inside the foil are three slices of Ryvita spread with couscous, two cherry tomatoes and a short stick of celery.

I'm not quite sure why, but I get the feeling that writing funny is viewed as a little bit shameful, as if one shouldn't lower oneself to the goal of entertainment. Or maybe it's because we think nothing could be worse than being caught trying to be funny and failing.

You can't fail to be serious, though, can you? Sometimes I think being serious is the easier option.

What a carve up

Thanks to Drew Gummerson for posting this link on Damien G Walter's blog on the Guardian.

Although over a year old, the article was too interesting not to share for a Carver fan:

What we talk about when we talk about editing

Monday, 13 April 2009


The only writing I have done over Easter was a short poem about my mother-in-law's home-made chocolate pudding. (It was entirely complimentary, in case you were wondering.)

Sunday, 5 April 2009

I've a Novella Award (Nomination)

I'm reliably informed by my blogmate that Overturned, our co-written story that was included in Elastic Press's Subtle Edens anthology, has been longlisted for the British Fantasy Society's Best Novella Award. Thanks to whoever voted, even if only to have allowed me the opportunity for that terrible pun in this post's title.

The winners will be announced at Fantasycon 2009 in September and only BFS members or attendees of Fantasycon (08 or 09) are eligible to vote. So if you are, and you liked the story, please do vote. You can do so here: BFS Awards Longlist 2009, which is where I just found all that information out.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Patronise me

Ian Hocking on the requirements for making a full-time living as an artist by being patronised by a core audience. Not to be greedy, but I have a wife, daughter and mortgage to support, so I'd need a little more than he's asserting, but I'm happy to offer extras in return.

Number one fans