Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Music Of Words: Part 2

It was recently revealed that 87% of all Britons have never read Shakespeare on the page, and I rather think that’s as it should be. At school we were forced to read all the plays one after the other, and they simple don’t come alive on paper. Hearing and seeing the words open out in […]

The Music of Words: Part 1

Any writer worth a pinch of salt will tell you that they’re interested in the pattern of words. Lyricism in prose is, I suppose, what has replaced poetry, which has primarily become lyrics in music. For centuries poetry was straitjacketed into patterns by iambic pentameter, dactyls and the rest, but pop music and hip-hop has […]

Why Church Attendance Plunged

Trawling around the interwebs for weird stuff (it beats channel surfing) I stumbled across the terrifying Junior Christian Science Bible Show, not realising that all-round good guy Andy Nyman had already laid into it on ‘Screenwipe’. For those of you who ‘enjoy’ this – there are lots more episodes online! I particularly like Andy’s description […]

Not What The Public Wants

Try not to burst out laughing when you look at the ‘vertical pier’ on the left. Many British architects seem to operate in a vacuum that keeps them immune from public opinion. Buildings like London’s much-ridiculed Philishave (with its wind turbines that can’t face the wind) or the Shard (grotesquely disproportionate to its surroundings) get built […]

Awesome Elmore Is No More

Elmore Leonard, the terrific US crime writer I and many of my contemporaries grew up with, admiring and attempting to emulate, has died aged 87. Typically, while writers regarded his books as effortlessly cool and hardcore American, the genres in which he worked were those that failed to attract critical attention, like westerns and crime […]

Amazon: The Publishers’ Frenemy?

Today’s inbox brings a bit of direct mail from Amazon. Normally it would go in the trash, but a/ it’s too hot to work in anything approaching a normal state of mind (‘If it gets any hotter I shall have to take my pullover off.’ – Michael Ripper, ‘Blue Murder At St Trinians’), and b/ […]

Want To Feel Really, Really Old?

If you’ve read any of my Bryant & May books, you’ll know that Arthur Bryant is a Luddite with a limited knowledge of the interwebby-thing. But it turns out that as late as 1997 we all were, as this horrible, horrible video shows. I can’t even watch more than twenty seconds of it without wanting […]

Re:View – ‘Down Terrace’

Every now and again a director comes along who has viewability, that indefinable quality which makes you carry on watching no matter where the plot goes. This summer, viewability has been thin on the ground. The latest  Superman reboot dispensed with anything that might be construed as fun or interesting. These are the films that […]

On Being A Professional Writer No.8: The Quiet Life

This is the latest in an occasional series that takes a sidelong look at the hazards and pleasures of being a professional writer. Novelists don’t hang out together. We don’t tend to share much with each other. This is not born of professional secrecy or jealousy, but because we don’t articulate our work to others, […]

Hidden Tales

Short stories are messy little things, hard to categorise and awkward to collect. As an inveterate short story collector, I know that while it’s nice to own paperbacks with lurid covers and wonderful story collections inside, I’ll also read them in any form I can find, including e-tales. But although JG Ballard’s short stories are […]