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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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This is the latest in an occasional round-up on readers and writers, books and their readability or unreadability, general discussion points for us all. First up; Are you a book snob? Recent reports suggest that one reason for not buying e-books is that others don't know what you're reading. Women find men who carry books less threatening. The young are keen to appear well-read. Bookcases in…
50 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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Which books have created a world for you? It's not just for fantasy writers. The creator of every story has to make his or her world convincing. The most extreme examples are practiced by authors like John Crowley, Ursula LeGuin and Paul McAuley, but we all have to do it to different degrees. The world of the murder mystery series 'Big Little Lies' is a good example. Both the book and show have…
24 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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Sometimes a novel can benefit from a little less action. You often find that the best bits of books, films, plays or sitcoms are the parts near the beginning where nothing much happens, the calm before the storm. I like these quiet moments because characters still have room to breathe before becoming subject to the constrictions of the plot. Scriptwriter Simon Nye always gave Gary and Tony a bit…
7 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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How often have you read a book and become convinced that you've read it somewhere before? Sometimes a particular scene will resonate and I'll go searching for another version of it. In his immense volume 'The Seven Basic Plots' Christopher Booker argued that there are only seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of storytelling. Why are we programmed to imagine stories in these…
16 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Observatory
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I start at the top of the blank page and work my way down to the bottom. 1. Grumping about the Last Night of the Proms is the tip of the iceberg; humanity as a whole is irredeemably, incorrigibly misguided. We are unreliable, chaotic, annoying and deeply, deeply stupid. 2. The idea that a civilisation slowly and consistently ameliorates itself until we arrive at a single caring society that is…
4 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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Okay, so you've written your story, short or doorstop-length, and you no longer like the title you started out with, or maybe you never had one in the first place. What do you do? I know it may seem that I have it in for 'The Girl on the Train' (I have) but the one thing it had was a good title. At the very least it delivered on its title. People refer to Mervyn Peake's masterwork as 'Gormenghast'…
10 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Poor old Oscar, endlessly quoted, and not always accurately. I wonder what he would have made of the modern Twitterverse? Would he have loved dropping aphorisms onto it or would he have been horrified by its egalitarianism? I really enjoyed Jon Ronson's 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed', an exploration of modern-day online witch-hunts which could not have been written five years ago. There's a…
3 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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I have a friend who wants to be a writer. He tells me he's about to start 'a huge series of books, which will be better when they film it as a series'. He still hasn't started a single one after ten years, despite being obsessed by the idea of quantity. The author Magnus Mills writes a slim, deceptively simple volume every three or four years. He aims to strip back the complexities of the modern…
11 comments

Years