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Childhood reading: an endless summer
10 June 2013
It’s the start of summer, a time when long days and balmy nights are still a possibility, a hope, a beautiful dream. When the rain comes, as it invariably will, I know that my disappointment will be as childish as my hopes for a sun-filled summer in the first place. Nostalgia, surely, is to blame. In the rose-tinted garden of my memory, every summer is long, hot, and just about perfect. So it is with my childhood reading. I don’t remember the books I started and stopped, the ones I was nonplussed by; I can only recall the gems. And just like those carefree, sun-lit days, they are some of the best books I’ve ever read. Of course they are. Recently I wondered what would happen if I revisited a childhood favourite. Would fondness swamp objectivity? Or, worse still, would the experience leave me cold? Maybe it was a foolhardy venture, rather like having a magician explain a trick, or looking for your Christmas presents and finding them – what’s lost outweighs what’s gained. But I decided to run the risk anyway, and chose 'The Black Stallion' by Walter Farley.Read more...
The next thing: unknown and lovely
08 May 2013
Right now, I’m in a deliciously rootless place. I’ve finished one novel, and am about to embark on the next. With two books under my belt, I now know a little bit more about how I behave when I’m writing. I know that as soon as I start, order will kick in. My days will be made of word counts and to-do lists, and I’ll annoy myself with my own obsessive compulsiveness. So I’m going to enjoy this transient period, when a new idea tantalises and I get to waft about a bit, my head pleasantly airy. While my house is free of dreamcatchers, nevertheless I’ve a taste for the ethereal, the unexplained, especially when it comes to ideas. No one really knows where they come from, and for all the work of creative theorists, their inexplicableness remains their most alluring quality. ‘Not I, not I,’ said D.H. Lawrence, ‘but the wind that blows through me!’ This is the point in the process where poetry trumps pragmatism, hands down.Read more...
The Book Slam troika
24 March 2013
It’s been a big month or so for Book Slam. I travelled to Yangon for the first ever Book Slam Burma, alongside novelist, medical doctor and one-time prisoner of conscience, Ma Thida, and arguably the nation’s most influential living poet, Zeyar Lynn. And very good fun it was too. We discussed the importance of a vibrant, diverse literary culture in our respective countries. I often think being a writer is a tough calling. It is, however, a lot tougher when you’re sent to prison for writing what you believe to be true - humbling to be reminded of one’s good fortune, isn’t it?Read more...
Notes To Self
25 February 2013
Lately I’ve been lost in Joan Didion’s brilliant collection of essays, 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'. Among her musings on the peculiar powers of the Santa Ana, and her indelible first move to NYC, the piece I’m most drawn to is On Keeping A Notebook, where she writes about her jotting habits, and examines the purpose behind them. ‘I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be,’ she writes, ‘whether we find them attractive company or not.’Read more...
The Book Diet
24 January 2013
Like so many others at the beginning of a new year, I've decided it's time to streamline and become a better me. But I won't be counting calories or substituting fat-free imitations for my favourite foods. Instead, I am going on a Book Diet. For the entirety of 2013, I will not buy a single book.Read more...
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