tristram shandy

Getting The Words Wrong

‘What does he deserve for lighting the future on fire?’ asks a character in Game Of Thrones. The line bothered me. It’s not poke-you-in-the-eye bad grammar, just an awkward juxtaposition of words. It feels wrong. If I was pushed to define it, lighting something is the act of illuminating, setting is more aggressive while, say, […]

Whimsy Is The New Reality

There are certain literary traits I don’t much care for; over-earnestness, sentiment, nostalgia and manufactured ‘edge’ being among the worst – TV crime dramas seem to believe that everything should be grim and shouty – Tony Hancock once said ‘You can get away with anything if you keep a straight face’ – but I’ve never […]

Tricky Books 1: Tristram Shandy

I’m a pretty well-read guy. An author, after all, has to be familiar with the tools of the trade. I don’t sell the kind of figures that get me invited to the Hay Literary Festival, and I don’t think I’m dim – Jeez, even Jerry Hall got invited, and don’t tell me she’s a rocket […]

George Eliot Went To Thailand

Actually, she went twice. Charlotte Bronte went to Barbados. Laurence Sterne spent a couple of weeks in Majorca. And I spent a wet weekend with Alan Hollinghurst in Brighton, but he ended up in the dustbin. They’re all authors I’ve dragged away with me on holiday (purely in book form, you understand) who have come […]