27 December 2013

And another one

Pay attention

Only profound silence
makes that rushing sound,
akin to the flight of blood
from the heart to the head,
or to the tissue-paper rustle of a crowd
dancing to music so loud it’s in your teeth.
The slide under the thud; the torrent over the pulse.

You can live in that sound.
It makes for thought so deep
that when a bird slams into the window
or the phone rings
you’re burst open
and need a moment to see that nothing has changed,
you are where you were;
though the curved corners of your mind will echo
with the blows of a fierce and clamorous argument.

It will serve you well
to plumb the depths of this type of silence.
Sinking, you will come to rest on a solid bed;
rising, you’ll ascend steady as a diver,
and break the surface, open your mouth
and speak.

(First published in New Contrast 164 Vol 41, No 4)

07 August 2013

I'm still thinking

On appearance, other than the reading updates it may seem as if this blog has fallen dormant, as if it has burrowed down and is sleeping through a winter of many months. 

But it’s still breathing, and it’s on my mind on an almost daily basis, accompanied with a rarely satisfied urge to write something for myself. I was going to make a generalisation and say, ‘I guess this is what happens when one’s day job is closely related to one’s creative impulses and interests,’ but authors such as Anne Michaels and Ivan Vladislavić, and others I’m sure, are living proof to the contrary. 

So I’ll speak for myself and say, without including myself in the category of author, ‘I guess this is what has happened: My day job is closely related to my creative impulses and interests to the extent that doing the former seems to be robbing me of time and brain power with which to fulfil the latter.’ It’s a sad and frustrating state of affairs, but like many others in life I have the power to change it. And I will. Dust is quick to stir up but slow to settle; however, at some point some of my thoughts will come into focus.

11 March 2013

Three days and a date

More funny little litoverlaps:

Recently I finished reading Ian McEwan’s Saturday, and straight away began Rumer Godden’s Coromandel Sea Change. The first chapter of Godden’s book is also titled ‘Saturday’. Then I read Deon Meyer’s 7 DAYS, and the first chapter of that book is titled ‘Saturday’.

Also, the first date mentioned in Meyer’s book – 4 March – was the date of the day that I began reading his book.


08 January 2013

Read 2013


Markus Zusak The Book Thief (again)  Jeannette Walls Half Broke Horses  Ellis Peters The Virgin in the Ice (yet again)  Kent Haruf Eventide (again)  Kent Haruf Plainsong (again)  Donna Tartt The Little Friend  Penelope Lively Consequences


Margaret Drabble A Natural Curiosity  Russell Banks The Darling (left off)  Lauren Beukes The Shining Girls  Alexander McCall Smith Trains and Lovers  Joan Didion Blue Nights  Francesca Kay An Equal Stillness  Edith Pargeter Lost Children  Yet more Agatha Christies


More Agatha Christies  Alexander McCall Smith The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds  Alexander McCall Smith The Forgotten Affairs of Youth  Torey Hayden Just Another Kid


Louis de Bernières Red Dog  AS Byatt Possession (again, again)  More Agatha Christies, yet again


Tove Jansson The Summer Book (transl by Thomas Teal)  Various Agatha Christies, yet again  JM Coetzee The Childhood of Jesus (left off)


Claire Messud The Woman Upstairs  Ann-Marie MacDonald Fall on Your Knees (left off)  Anthony Horowitz The House of Silk  Kaui Hart Hemmings The Descendants  Téa Obreht The Tiger's Wife


Ian McEwan Sweet Tooth  Michael Morpurgo War Horse  Elizabeth McCracken Niagara Falls All Over Again  AS Byatt The Biographer's Tale (final attempt - succeeded!)


Elizabeth McCracken The Giant's House  Colum McCann Dancer  RA MacAvoy Winter of the Wolf (yet again)  Colum McCann Let the Great World Spin  Maggie O'Farrell The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox  RA MacAvoy King of the Dead (and yet again)


RA MacAvoy Lens of the World (and yet again)  Graham Swift Tomorrow  Arundhati Roy The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Daniel Barsamian (left off)  Willa Cather The Professor's House  Elizabeth Bowen The Heat of the Day (left off)  Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows (yet again)


Augusten Burroughs several essays from Possible Side Effects  Niall Williams Boy and Man  Niall Williams Boy in the World  Michael Ondaatje Anil's Ghost (again, again)  William Styron A Tidewater Morning (again, after many years)  Margaret Drabble The Red Queen  Michael Robotham Shatter  Deon Meyer 7DAYS


Margaret Drabble The Witch of Exmoor (left off)  AS Byatt three stories from Elementals  Rumer Godden Coromandel Sea Change (and 'Summer Diary: The Herbogowan')  Ian McEwan Saturday  Nora Roberts Blood Brothers (left off)  Margaret Drabble The Sea Lady  David Park The Big Snow (left off)  Margie Orford Daddy's Girl  Joan Didion most of the essays in Slouching Towards Bethlehem  Margie Orford Gallows Hill  Ben Elton Two Brothers  Sara Gruen Ape House


David Sedaris several essays from When You Are Engulfed in Flames  Anne Enright The Forgotten Waltz  Edith Pargeter The Marriage of Meggotta  Alexander McCall Smith The Charming Quirks of Others  Marilynne Robinson four essays from When I Was a Child I Read Books  Lisa See Snow Flower and the Secret Fan  Alexander McCall Smith The Comfort of Saturdays  Stephen King '1922' from Full Dark, No Stars (left off)  Jane Rusbridge Rook