Ok, so I published another book – Black Box, a collection of short stories from the dark to the whimsical and back again. It’s available as an e-book and as a c-book (c for carboniferous), just like my last book, Slender Threads. I’m not so interested in their relative subject matter as I am in their formats, and how they’ve fared in the (relative) marketplace. Continue reading
Black Box is a collection of stories that were written between 1998 and 2011. I’m not exactly prolific. They cover a wide range of topics while never straying far from ‘the’ question. From hangovers to Faustian bargains, the stories are often about stories. And some of them are true. Cover by Helen Masacz.
Good god, the Guardian’s back to its old, reactionary, hairy old ways. Emer O’Toole is making money for old (if short) rope in today’s piece about bloody pubic hair. I thought this hoary old crap had been dealt with after Bidisha’s appalling piece on the same subject (with the same metaphor) back in whenever (see To shave or not to shave) but no. it’s back. And it’s stupider than ever. Continue reading
It is one of those delicious ironies that the very things that demand most patience are the very same things that we want, or even need, right this second, dammit give it to me now. Now, I say! Continue reading
So. Finally a decision is made about Alan Turing. It’s such a pity it’s the wrong one: divisive, insulting and, though few seem to notice, homophobic.
He should not have been pardoned. Now, before you get all shouty, ranty and insulting on my ass, let’s get one thing straight: I am in no way homophobic. I shouldn’t have to point this out but so many seem to think this action a good thing that I fear the emotive muscle has been overstretched. We saw this when bin Laden was murdered. Let’s consider how laws, ultimately, operate. Continue reading
There comes a time in the careers of certain people when they hold the whole world in the palm of their hand – or, at least, it must seem like the whole world. Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, has just arrived at that point following the massive success of his song Let Her Go. This tune, while being nowhere near his best (as anyone who knows the 2007 album Wicked Man’s Rest will attest), has that elusive quality shared by Mr Blaunt’s You’re Beautiful: it’s a song that gets to the heart of what women want to hear. Continue reading
If we ignore the fact that it’s in Hove, and it’s arguable whether eleven acts makes a festival, we’re left with the relentless march of the ‘percussive acoustic guitar’ style, an affectation shared by each act, for better or for worse. The problem I have with players like these has been well-documented, by me, and it ought to be pointed out that two of the very best exponents of this style, the late Eric Roche and the very much alive-and-gigging Thomas Leeb were, at one point, both students of mine. I didn’t teach them anything about the acoustic guitar, but that’s another matter. But I heard them develop, and I jammed with Eric on occasion, so I do know how this stuff works, and my standards are high – impressing me ain’t easy. To be fair, I doubt many of the players here give a rat’s arse what I think but that’s another thing entirely. Continue reading
Huzzah for Philip Hensher. In yesterday’s Graun it was noted that he’d refused to write the introduction to an introduction to Berlin literature for free, on the spurious grounds that writing was what he did for a living. The book’s author, Andrew Webber, apparently called him ‘priggish and ungracious’ for his stance, with the publisher, CUP, stating the following: Continue reading
If there was one thing held in common by the throngs awaiting last night’s performance of the operatic expression of Iain Banks’ rather odd but brilliant debut The Wasp Factory, it was surely a question: what the fuck? The simple fact of the matter is that not one consciousness in that ante-chamber really had a clue about what they were about to see – even had they read a review (we hadn’t, purposely), it still wouldn’t have done much more than increase the feeling that the turning of this book into opera was, well, unlikely. Perhaps it’s as well. Continue reading