Missed In Translation Part 1

What do Korean gangsters have to do with Madame Bovary? Their stories change according to who translates them into English. Translator Lydia Davis points out that she doesn’t have to enjoy what she’s translating; she does not care for Madame Bovary as a book or a character, but concentrates on accurately reflecting the author’s prose […]

Will The Thrill Of Going Out Go Out?

A 1920s advertisement had a headline that began; ‘If you go out these days – and who doesn’t? you’ll want to enjoy…’ The idea of ‘going out’ is a peculiarly complex one for Londoners, attached to the idea of being entertained for the evening. It is inextricably woven with sex and drink, bad behaviour and […]

There’s Not Always A Word For It

  A letter reaches me from reader John Healey in South Australia who has twigged one of the longest-running games I’ve been playing in my novels. My love of esoteric language has occasionally encouraged me to add rare words, and to sometimes make them up. I figured that if Billy Shakespeare could invent over 1,700 […]

In The Earth: The Answer Lies In The Soil

Following on from the last column about cerebral scares, here’s something new in the folk horror genre to catch. Ben Wheatley is incapable of making a dull film but he comes dangerously close to self-parody with ‘In The Earth’, which will either kill off the fashionable folk-horror cycle for a while or encourage a further […]

The Scared Brain: Favourite Cerebral Scares

Considering I’ve written some 300 short stories in the genre of the fantastic, I feel that stories in which one’s inner doubts and fears are made irrefutably solid is the bravest choice to make aesthetically. Psychological stories achieve a unique level of catharsis but shocking images must be yoked within the service of powerful ideas. The […]

Uncultured 2: What’s On My Cult Radar

  ‘The Passenger’ by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz There’s a big world of stories out there, and I’m drawn to expansive world imprints like Pushkin Press. I discovered the collected novels of Stefan Zweig at Pushkin, along with unfamiliar story collections from Gogol and Chekhov. Bringing together my twin obsessions, they also publish ‘Walter Presents’ novels […]

Press Clippings From Hell No.1

An odd article in the New York Times grabs my attention today. A man who runs an online spectacles company has been threatening to rape and murder customers who complain about the poor quality of his sunglasses. The 6′ 5″ Ukranian admits he may have a bad attitude. An older clipping is sent by a […]

The Cons Of Prose

Things like this can make you paranoid.  Let’s be clear; books are published to make money. I’m lucky to have Transworld behind me, a company with integrity and admirable loyalty to their authors. Not everyone is quite so traditional in their outlook. I was shocked when the ‘sock puppet’ scandal broke (authors leaving nasty reviews […]

Uncultured 1: What’s On My Cult Radar

  HHhH by Laurent Binet ‘HHhH’ is enlightening and occasionally infuriating, but retelling an oft-told story is never easy. Binet’s Prix Goncourt winner concerns the legend of the London-trained parachutists who attempted the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague, 1942, the events leading to the confrontation, the ambush itself, which played out like an action […]

Bryant & May Awake

How woke should a fictional crime series be? The recent term for the old awareness formerly known as ‘PC’, and before that ‘cool’ and before that ‘hip’, has been so absorbed into the mainstream that many entertainment products now feel as if they exist on one side of the line or the other. Thumbing through […]