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'What genre would Shakespeare be? His works contain horror, history, myth, fantasy, ghosts, crime. Dickens, too. I always have a Dickens on the go, and dip in just as I would a giant bag of pick and mix. I want a novel to have it all; why not?'
'There’s something wrong. Your inner critical voice knows it, but you can’t put your finger on the problem. It can’t be that phrase or sentence that you love, can it? That part you have polished to perfection, that might even be the first words you wrote.'
'No wonder it can be painful – impossible even – to make that cut; no wonder we fiercely cling to it against all advice. Those precious words are the unsuitable lover we’re obsessed with, the dodgy cad, or perhaps a narcissistic reflection of our self.'
'I was living in Soho, and the nearest bookshop was the Original Soho Bookshop, essentially a sex shop but it also stocked some excellent pop culture books on the ground floor. To see my book displayed in their window was an unparalleled thrill.'
Gerry Cambridge, longtime editor of poetry magazine, The Dark Horse, looks at some of the difficulties around poetry reviewing, particularly in a non-critical culture.
'My growing collection of shanties became a sort of palimpsest, through which I discovered a world of courage and daring, where life was lived from second to second; whose equivalent I had never experienced, except in childbirth.'
Chris Arthur asks how many words a writer should produce over the days, weeks and years, explores different approaches to productivity, and finds inspiration in the opposing attitudes of famous Japanese masters.
'Martin Amis once observed that Nabokov was very good at getting characters from A to B. In Nabokov, events melt into one another in a way I find dreamlike, and Nabokov, like Graham Greene, did record his dreams.'
'Meeting and working with hundreds of students was also new; an experience by turns humbling, saddening, stimulating. Every encounter unique in its own way. It made me reflect on roads not taken in my own life.'
Ben Rhydding was once a grand Gothic mansion in Yorkshire, built to provide the ‘water cure’ to the Victorian elite. Tamar Yellin explores the history of this ill-fated building and how it inspired a novel.
29-04-2021

Stephen Sharkey asks why anybody would want to turn a perfectly good novel into a stage play, and explains the value in turning the solitary pursuit of reading into the shared experience of theatre.

Bill Kirton considers Gustav Flaubert’s masterpiece, suggesting that its irregularities might be subversion rather than error, and spends an evening with his eponymous heroine.

Andrew Martin describes his lifelong fascination with trains, and the way the coming of the railway transformed literature.
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