Cleverdick Novels

Time for a round-up of what I’ve been reading and can recommend. I’m sure authors like to be thought of as smart and knowledgeable in book choices, but it would seem there’s a subset of reading we could term Cleverdick novels, partly because they’re about being clever for the sake of it, partly because I […]

A Step In The Dark For Man Booker Prize

As the Man Booker Prize for literature announces its annual long list, it has once more made headlines for taking an unusual step. The Booker is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world (I would include it in a list that features the Pulitzer, Nobel and Neustadt awards) but it has not always […]

Is Reading About It As Good As Going There?

Readers often prefer books to be set where they live, so that they can easily identify with surroundings. Something wonderful can happen when you read someone else’s take on the streets you know. ‘Rosie Hogarth’, ‘Hangover Square’, ‘The Low Life’ and even ‘101 Dalmations’ are all books that allow Londoners to see familiar places afresh. […]

What Is Authorial Voice?

A story is just a story until you learn to sense the writer behind the words, and that is something experience (ie. a massive amount of reading) refines for you. Why should you need to hear the author’s voice at all? Because it adds a new dimension to what you read. An author can act […]

My Four Solaris Books

There’s not been enough talk about books in these columns lately. Let’s start to remedy that. Last week I was in a delightful old bookshop in Palma with a friend when the bookshop owner asked me, ‘Are you famous?’ Mischievously, I looked at my friend. ‘Am I famous?’ She considered the question. ‘Well,’ she said […]

What’s A Signed Book Worth?

There’s nothing so cruel as finding out that your ‘valuable’ signed book is worthless. The BBC asked booksellers how much they gain by selling a signed edition, but the answer is driven entirely by public demand. Inevitably JK Rowling features heavily, drawings add more value to signatures and the most highly prized signed book is one […]

High Culture, Low Culture

….the recent talk of books and football brings us on to the next point several of you raised yesterday, viz, that you can read Proust and also read Viz. But conformity is pushed onto us in the world of books too. There’s a distinctly middle-class feel to many literary festivals (Cheltenham is probably the most […]

Reading A Book? You Loser!

  Reading VS Football Part 2. It was the game that had all English football fans dreaming, said the BBC, then the co-commentator Martin Keown launch a bizarre attack on book-lovers. The former Arsenal defender took umbrage at people who preferred to read rather than watch the England-Sweden quarter-final of the World Cup. ‘There might be someone […]

Six Strange Summer Reads

It’s the time of year when every newspaper gives us a list of summer reads, books selected – sometimes with the publishers’ collusion – to appeal to its particular demographic, so romances in Tuscan villas for the Sunday Times, and First World War exploits for the Telegraph. There are plenty of good reads around this […]

This Is My 30th Anniversary As A Writer!

An article in the London Times by James Marriot this morning gets the day off to a depressing start. It was inspired by the fact – long known to us authors – that the average writer earns less than minimum wage. Earnings for professional writers have fallen by a staggering 42% since 2005, just as […]