Stephen King

Books I Fight To Finish

Writers are not supposed to name the books they don’t like; it’s an unwritten law, as if by doing so we’ll somehow damage the trade. All writers have flaws and quirks; it’s what makes them individual and interesting, and is why instructional books like Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’ cannot be applied to the letter, […]

Why Holmes Always Gets Reinvented, And Other Puzzles

  Last week I had lunch in an Argentinian restaurant in Barcelona with the Sherlockian society. That may sound rather an esoteric thing to do, but within the context of the city’s ‘Freak Zone’ it seemed a rather wonderful way to spend the afternoon, munching empanadas and wondering what Holmes got up to Europe. It […]

Another Rare Author Returns

Never say this blog is not ahead of the curve, me hearties. First it points you to Hans Fallada’s astonishing ‘Alone in Berlin’, only for the book to be announced as an upcoming Emma Thompson film, and now, after years of nagging people about the wonderful, obscure writer Michael McDowell, I’ve discovered that all of […]

The Strange Story of ‘The Birds’

I greatly enjoyed Stephen King’s  ‘Salem’s Lot’ and ‘The Shining’, but found much of the rest of his prose too eager to please, too Gawk-Tousle-And-Shucks for my tastes. I wasn’t long out of school, I was heavily into Dickens and Waugh, and would have simply placed King in the cool holiday reading category if critics […]

The Sequel To ‘Spanky’

Someone asked me online if I’d ever write a sequel to ‘Spanky’ and I suddenly remembered that I’d written one. It’s called ‘Spanky’s Back In Town’ and it’s in my collection ‘Personal Demons’. I seem to recall that it involves Rasputin and an excavation site beside the Thames. Apart from that it’s a bit of […]

Developing Your Reading Tastes

There’s so little free space in newspapers now available to literary criticism that we tend not to write about books we don’t personally get on with. Instead, we use that space to champion books that may not have come to the attention of readers. However, any writer who has also written criticism will tell you […]

When Bigger Really Isn’t Better

Following our recent discussion about book formats, I took a quick trawl through my bookshelves to confirm my suspicions; that over the past few decades books have become ever longer and ever more bloated. I’m afraid to say this at the risk of upsetting fans, but it would seem the rot set in with Stephen […]

It’s The Length That Counts

Ian McEwan seems to function better in novella form, and told an audience at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival that he believes “the novella is the supreme literary form”. “Many of the writers we love the most, we love for their novellas: Death in Venice, The Turn of the Screw, The Metamorphosis”. The novella can […]

How I Finally Learned To Love Stephen King

I first read ‘Carrie’ on a plane from LA, and it set the tone for my lifelong love/hate relationship with Stephen King. I thought the plot was brilliant in its simplicity – why had nobody thought of it before? But I loathed the toe-stubbingly flat language. What I could’t see was that King’s lack of […]

I Am Vladimir Nabokov

Actually, I’m also James Joyce and David Foster Wallace, whoever he is. Yes, I succumbed to the ‘I Write Like’ website that analyses your prose and tell you who you’re like in prose style. I Write Like, designed by software developers Coding Robots, lets you paste in a section of your prose and analyses your […]