The Arts

Kafkaesque

It’s interesting that in all of the Brexit arguments no-one has brought up the word ‘Kafkaesque’. ‘Byzantine’, ‘paradoxical’, ‘labyrinthine’, yes. But Brexit is Kafkaesque in every way – populated by perverse people, based on impossibilities, an insoluble knot filled with barely glimpsed mysteries. The poor little Prague clerk-turned-writer Franz Kafka, in death as in life, has […]

Writers’ Advice: Go Niche Or Go Home

‘Nobody likes a good all-rounder.’ My English teacher once told that. It’s advice I’ve taken to heart. Over the years, my tastes have become ever more abstruse. Maybe yours have too. Perhaps I’m not the only author who has Gilbert & Sullivan, Steve Reichs, hi-BPM hard house and Count Arthur Strong on his playlist, but […]

The Best Cures For Sickness

A few years ago I was very ill indeed and spent a lot of time in hospitals, so I always kept a book with me for those ‘surprise’ waiting times when you think you’re about to be seen by a doctor but are sent to sit in another corridor instead. I do remember what I […]

Fake Facts, Real Imagination

In a time of fake news, the story couldn’t be more timely. In America, an article written for a magazine spawned a play and an essay about the negotiability of facts in non-fiction. In 2003 John D’Agata, a writer from the American school of factual overload had an essay spiked for inaccuracies. The piece ostensibly […]

Au Revoir, Michel Legrand

On a rainy night in King’s Cross, London about eight years ago I wandered past the Shaw Theatre, a backstreet venue mostly used for corporate presentations, and saw that Michel Legrand and his orchestra were appearing there. In his eighties then, he was onstage for at least three hours and worked his way through an […]

Upcoming Events

The government may be in meltdown but I’m organised for the next few months…first up, First Monday Crime on February 4th at City University (and the Blacksmith & Toffee Maker after) here. I’ll be launching ‘The Lonely Hour’ on March 21st at Waterstones Covent Garden (and probably at the Lamb & Flag, which features in […]

Fact VS Fiction II: Lying For A Living

The great thing about children is that they talk rubbish with more conviction than politicians. Lies, fantasies and half-truths are glued into a kind of surreal pudding that defies you to disbelieve your ears. I should know; at the age of the boy in this story I used to tell the kind of whoppers that […]

Writers & ‘Imposter Syndrome’

The book is the book is the book. As used by Michelle Obama, the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is, I suppose, what used to be called ‘low self-esteem’, in that it refers to the feeling that you don’t have the right to be here. ‘It doesn’t go away, the feeling that you shouldn’t take me that […]

Movie Locations No.2: ‘Wake In Fright’

Kenneth Cook’s book ‘Wake In Fright’ is a reminder that a short sharp shock of a novel can be infinitely more memorable than a 400-page thriller. Also known as ‘Outback’, it presents the Australian wilderness as a Dantean cauldron where men’s worst instincts surface. It’s a deeply uncomfortable but highly vivid read. Kenneth Cook is […]

Sharp Tongued English

Sir John Gielgud made so many horrendous gaffes that there’s a book about them called ‘Gielgoodies’ – the Shakespearian actor was forever insulting friends by mistake. He was blunt and thoughtless, but it must have been difficult to take offence when he’d say, ‘I don’t think Pemberton’s a good designer. You want someone who will […]