A character in search of a story in Richard Ford’s ‘Let me be Frank with you’


Any place can look like a suburban wasteland with the right Instagram filter.

Let me be Frank with you, the latest Frank Bascombe book from Richard Ford deals with the aging character of Bascombe, now rounding third base towards 70, in post-Hurricane Sandy New Jersey. In the four overlapping stories that shape the book, you’ll find themes of aging, mortality, family, suburban life, and even the American Dream. What you won’t find is plot.

Is that okay?

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Best books to inspire struggling writers


The outline for my maybe-one day-novel that has lived as only an outline for a year now.

Happy NaNoWriMo! If you’re stuck for ideas or trolling the internet to get a break from the feverish pace of your typing, here’s a list of books about writers just like you.

[Ed. note: After composing this list I found I had chosen books about male writers who are jerks. If you are not a male and a jerk please don’t take any offence that I said these were writers just like you.]

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What I read: In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

index It wasn’t for me.

Matt Bell’s debut novel is a fairy tale that beautifully uses its words to tell the tale of a man and a woman coming together, coming apart and then coming together again. Bell’s use of language has been compared to my beloved Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges and while there are parallels, Bell doesn’t have the sense of story possessed by the other two. His intricate descriptions are just that and as a reader you can feel that those descriptions don’t add anything to the novel as a whole.

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Hemingway was a jerk: A Moveable Feast

UnknownThere is a scene in the last section of A Moveable Feast where F. Scott Fitzgerald confesses to Ernest Hemingway that he has only ever been with one woman; Zelda. What’s more, he tells Hemingway that Zelda insists her husband could not ever please another woman. “It is a matter of measurements,” she says. Hemingway and Fitzgerald head to the restroom so Hemingway can take a look. Hemingway assures his friend that he is of normal size. As the availability of Internet porn was still more than 50 years away, the two then went to the Louvre so that Fitzgerald could inspect the male nudes  for his further assurance. I have no idea why Woody Allen would have left that part out of Midnight in Paris. Less time in Gertrude Stein’s parlour, more time inspecting schlongs at the Louvre please!


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