Monthly Archives: December 2016

Hygge 2: The Baltic Version

As I don’t ski and I have a book to write this winter (‘Hall of Mirrors’) with another to finishing editing (‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ comes out from Quercus next year), I fancy a break from refurbishing the flat, so we’ll be going back to beautiful Tallinn in Estonia for a few days, then […]

Hygge 1: What’s the British Equivalent?

You can’t get away from hygge in the London bubble; it’s in shops, in books, at dinner parties, everywhere at once. If you’ve experienced hygge you’ll know it’s a simple pleasure. For those who’ve been living away from the chattering classes this winter, hygge is a Danish word describing a feeling or mood that comes from enjoying […]

Rowling VS Pullman

Yesterday Charles commented on my complaint that JK Rowling (whom we all rightly regard as A Good Thing) has in the past not been too worried about developing characters or plots, and that the books offer a full-scale retreat into happier times. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s nice to see a sub-plot in […]

And The Next Creative Trend Is…

If you try to jump on a bandwagon, lead times usually mean that you’ve already missed it – the carnival has passed. But certain trends do emerge that can catch your creative project and lift it up, if you happen to hit at the right time. We’re none of us clairvoyant, but there are cyclical […]

The London Writers You’ve Never Heard Of

If you start collecting London books you’ll quickly have your shelves filled to breaking point. More pointless volumes about the East End’s artisanal muesli vendors arrive with each passing day, yet there are dozens of fascinating London writers who failed to remain in print. The most interesting thing about them is the insight they give […]

Fireside Chat 1: Something You Haven’t Seen Before

A new occasional series which aims to jump-start your ideas by commenting on the arts Clive Barker (remember him?) once gave a terrific speech about originality. He complained that genre fiction (crime, SF, fantasy, horror) was always accused by critics of being unoriginal but that general fiction never was. Nobody, he said, ever complains that […]

London At Christmas

London’s Christmas season has started in a true wintry fashion, with crisp, cold, clear skies, thick frosts and Nordic yellow light all designed to remind us that we’re closer to Sweden and Norway than Spain and Italy. Despite being a multicultural city, nobody refers to it as the ‘holiday season’. It is very much Christmas, […]

The Christmassiest Writer

Stacy Aumonier is Christmassy without being cloying or sentimental. He’s closer to Saki in that sense. But there is something twinkling and Christmassy about Aumonier. His ‘Extremely Entertaining Short Stories’ feel as if they should be read aloud by a roaring fire. He was born near Regent’s Park into a family of craftsmen and artists […]

London Books For Christmas

Oh yes, I thought, someone else reckons they’ve found a new angle on the city. They sound like Youngs or Poshes. But here’s a pleasant surprise; ‘Curiosity’ by Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose rises to the challenge and hides some real surprises up its sleeve, even catching out an old lag like me. No fancy […]

Corbynisation: A Classic British Conundrum

In Europe, councils like to encourage everyone from kids to seniors to go out and get a bit of fresh air, so they build outdoor gyms and seating all over the place. There are benches and tables everywhere, used by everyone. If a few drunks settle on them it’s no big deal. Things don’t quite […]