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literature

This tag is associated with 87 posts

Ian McGuire, ‘The North Water’ (2016)

‘The air is filled with the foetid air of butchery and excrement. Drax feels pleasure at this work, arousal, a craftsman’s sense of pride. Death, he believes, is a kind of making, a kind of building up. What was one thing, he thinks, is become something else.’ Ian McGuire’s second novel The North Water is centred on … Continue reading

The Tortoise and the Hare

During a six week summer holiday that everyone I’ve spoken to (whether teacher, parent, friend or family member) agrees has gone ludicrously quickly, we acquired a tortoise. Rocket (yes, really – he can properly shift it when he’s of a mind to) came into our lives and generated great excitement that was not just confined … Continue reading

Iain Banks, ‘The Wasp Factory’ (1984)

I first read The Wasp Factory when I was 18. I’d never heard of Banks; but in 1992 he visited a local bookshop to promote his novel The Crow Road. The write-up in the local paper included something about Banks’ popularity with students, which pricked my curiosity. After a year out, I was moving to Liverpool to start … Continue reading

My Idea of Fun

The last week of term looms. The six week Summer holiday is so close you can almost touch it, its welcome warmth the sun suddenly breaking through clouds. The only thing standing between you and that gentle embrace is five days of lessons. 20-odd hours of teaching. What could be simpler? The temptation of course … Continue reading

Summer Reading 2016

The six week school holiday is coming to an end, and on Thursday I go back to work. Although, that’s not strictly true; I’ve been getting ready for the new term for the last fortnight – lesson plans and seating layouts and all the rest of it. But I’ve still had a clear three weeks … Continue reading

Nicolas Freeling, ‘The King of the Rainy Country’ (1966)

‘I am like the King of a Rainy Country, Rich, but powerless; young, yet feeling wintry; no longer flattered by the obsequious bow; Bored by my dogs and by every other creature now, Nothing brightens my day, not the Hunt, not falconry, Not the dying people below my balcony.’ Not many crime novels take their … Continue reading

Richard Price, ‘The Whites’ (2015)

There’s an enormous amount to love about Richard Price’s crime novel The Whites, enough to make it difficult to know where to start. The title is a reference to Moby-Dick – the white whale that haunts Herman Melville’s novel, and which is hunted mercilessly through its pages but ultimately escapes. In Price’s book, the ‘Whites’ are … Continue reading

Para One: Derek Raymond, ‘He Died With His Eyes Open’ (1984)

These are the opening lines of He Died With His Eyes Open, the first in Derek Raymond’s celebrated, five-book ‘Factory’ series.  As so often in the crime genre the book begins with a corpse; but there is much more here to savour. Raymond is precise in putting his body into context, and in describing a London … Continue reading

Gavin Francis, ‘Adventures in Human Being’ (2016)

‘People tend to think of brain surgeons as being very dextrous,’ the neurosurgeon replied, ‘but it’s the plastic surgeons and microvascular surgeons who do that meticulous stuff… The rest of us just go gardening.’ When I was at university 20 years ago the best parties were thrown by the medical students. This was not just … Continue reading

On Barry Hines

Sad today to hear about the death of writer Barry Hines. He’s not someone I’ve thought about recently, but he is an author who had a profound effect on my childhood, for two reasons. We’ll get to A Kestrel for a Knave in a minute, but the first time I encountered Hines’ work was when my … Continue reading