Books

Rediscovering Super-Cannes

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After watching ‘High Rise’ again recently and enjoying it much more than I did the first time, I was drawn back to the Ballard bookshelf, and from his later writing picked ‘Super-Cannes’ for a reappraisal. Here’s what I found. There is a peculiar Englishness that manifests itself in exploration of the exotic, and JG Ballard […]

The BFI Screen Guides

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Never trust a man who puts ‘Pretty Woman’ in his top ten movies; it tells you too much about him. Making a list of your favourite films always risks exposing your personality. While they create a satisfying sense of order, they also reveal your age, class, intellect, sexual orientation and whether you have any symptoms […]

Choosing What To Read Next

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It’s a question I get asked a lot; how do you wade through all the book covers and titles to find something you really want to read, especially when it might possibly mean laying out cash on something you don’t enjoy? First, I set myself a book budget. I pick a subject I’d like to […]

The Books That Defined The ‘Lifestyle Choice’ Era

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In 1977, Cyra McFadden’s novel ‘The Serial’ satirized the self-obsessed new-age lifestyles of affluent residents in Marin County, just North of San Francisco, with their organic vegetable gardens, tantric sex sessions and bicycle races to work. ‘I thought I was discovering myself,’ says one character, ‘but it turns out I was having a nervous breakdown.’ […]

Holmes Sweet Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes is far, far more than a brand now; he’s an international industry. He’s the reason why many Chinese visitors come to London. He has branches of his fan club in Argentina and Madrid. Like it or not, he represents a certain type of England. Soon after 1891, when ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ […]

Like Dickens? You May Also Like…

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I hate those Amazon pop-ups that recommend other books, because the algorithms completely misunderstand my reading habits – which are lateral-swinging, to say the least. Here are some rivals to Dickens that you might consider instead. George W M Reynolds Charles Dickens, whom he outsold, despised him. The literary establishment wrote him out of literary […]

Books VS Kindle: Round Two

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  Here we go again. The Guardian just ran an article excoriating the Kindle experience in the wake of lowered sales, accusing it of being ugly, clunky, unhip and lacking in user friendliness, and welcoming back the dear old print book. In some respects, of course, it’s absolutely right. But the picture is a bit more […]

Same Book, Different Countries…

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People often ask me if I’m published in other languages. The answer is yes – but I often don’t see the finished books. There was a time when I didn’t even see some of the different English language versions. Some from Eastern Europe had covers that were hotchpotches of old pirated film posters. One looked […]

That Mystery Book Explained

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Some while back I set out to write the kind of book that’s fairly alien to me in its construction; a psychological thriller. While I love them (especially those by Margaret Millar, a forgotten author just coming back into print), I don’t usually write them. I tend to construct matrices of facts rather than delving […]

A Very English Way Of Doing Things

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So Britain is to have another election – hardly any surprise there, as the current leader of the opposition is a phantom who has all but destroyed Labour’s core voter base. Jeremy Corbyn is a career politician with the magnetic presence of a retired postman and is unable to make a stand for or against […]