Category: writing


161037Quote of the day.

In Alasdair Gray’s ‘Lanark,  the protagonist and aspiring writer is reflecting on  the two main types of novels he found in his local public library:

“One kind was a sort or written cinema, with plenty of action and hardly any thought. The other kind was about clever unhappy people, often authors themselves, who thought a lot but didn’t do very much”.

A sweeping generalization perhaps, but there is a lot of truth in this.

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THE NIX by Nathan Hill (Picador Books, 2016)

thenixAccording to the cliché,  everybody has at least one book in them. Nathan Hill has now written his in the form of this bold and hugely entertaining debut novel.

The American author says that his previous attempts at fiction followed formulas in vain attempts to win a lucrative book deal.

After a series of rejections he decided to cut his losses and simply write a book to please himself. In doing so, he had no idea whether or not it would be published.

It took him ten years to write, a slow but enjoyable process that he equated to tending to his own garden. The result is a triumph. Continue reading

WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami (Vintage Books, 2009)

3031024When I first read this memoir about five years ago I was a casual jogger.

Picking it up again as I train for my first marathon, I see it now as a valuable mini-manual to get into the right physical and mental state.

You don’t have to be an amateur athlete or an aspiring writer to appreciate Murakami’s down to earth words of wisdom but it helps.

As a celebrated novelist, frequently tipped for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and a prolific marathon finisher, the Japanese writer and runner shares his experiences in a style that goes beyond the standard textbooks on both pursuits. Continue reading

Top albums of 2016

One of the reasons whjambinaiy there have been fewer blog posts
this yeswordar is that I spend a lot of my free time writing music reviews for the online ‘zine Whisperin’ & Hollerin’.

This year I reviewed a grand total of 240 releases and although 2016 was by no means a vintage year there is still plenty of good music around. This, as always, exists on the margins away from the mainstream.

My preferences continue to veer strongly towards weird folk and post rock and the following are the ten albums that I enjoyed the most with links to my reviews:

  • JAMBINAI – A Hermitage  Jaminai are a trio from South Korea and I wrote that “The power and intensity of their music taps into the feelings of anger and isolation felt by a new generation suspicious of the conservative forces that seek to control them”.
  • YAIR YONA – Sword  Yair Yona is a gifted Israeli musician and this powerful instrumental album “covers universal themes of personal endurance and trauma”.
  • MODERN STUDIES – Swell To Great  Ornate and dreamy British folk music from a supergroup of sorts.

Continue reading

THE EDEN EXPRESS by Mark Vonnegut (Seven Stories Press, 2002 – originally published 1975)

I seriously doubt that this ‘memoir of insanity’ would have found a publisher so easily if the author did not also happen to be the son of Kurt Vonnegut. Much of its interest derives from this blood connection rather than any obvious literary merits.

Since Vonnegut Sr wrote so well about a world precariously balanced on the brink of universal madness, his son’s schizophrenia might be expected to connect in some ways with the surrealism and cynicism of the Vonnegut mindset. If this is what you hope to find from the book, you will be sorely disappointed. Continue reading

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