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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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, because if we did that all books would be the same. But there are some…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Media
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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 turns out that thanks to writers Sergio Colomino Ruiz and Jordi Palome Garcia we now…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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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 his books are being rereleased, some in Kindle format only (like 'Blackwater' -…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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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 hadn't elevated him to high art after Brian De Palma's breakout movie version of…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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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 a blur. I always thought there should be an anthology of sequels. Philip Jose Farmer wrote…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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 that they have 'problem authors'. After his first early novels I found myself unable to…
17 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Media & Reading & Writing
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 King's lengthy doorstops. Never one to use a word when twenty would do, his mass market…
11 comments
Christopher Fowler
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 be defined as a work of 25,000 words, and allows authors to concentrate on the…
12 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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 style would become a unique style of its own. I couldn't see it because, up until that point, I had…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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 vocabulary, sentence-length and punctuation. It then compares this to a list of 40 US…
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