Week 39: The Gathering

Good writers don't let you off easy. They provide no pat answers - there's no riding off together into the sunset as the orchestral music swells in the background. Good writers unsettle you. They leave you with questions. They disturb your assumptions, shake you out of your comfort zone. They can be savage in their [...]

By | 2018-03-13T15:29:23+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 38: A Bend in the River

"The town in the interior, at the bend in the great river, had almost ceased to exist". The name of the town is never mentioned. We are told it is located in the heart of Africa, at the end of the navigable river, just below the cataracts. The President, too, is unnamed, and usually referred [...]

By | 2018-03-07T05:37:24+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 37: Iris Murdoch’s Severed Head

Martin Lynch-Gibbon is a lucky man. He has it all - a comfortable, tastefully decorated home; a gracious, loving wife whose beauty is only just beginning to fade, and a mistress practically young enough to be his daughter. There is no question of him leaving his wife, and his mistress appears to accept that. He [...]

By | 2018-02-27T20:36:25+00:00 February 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 36: Sam Spade and The Maltese Falcon

In 1934, four years after The Maltese Falcon was published, Dashiell Hammett wrote this of his anti-heroic, hard-boiled detective, Sam Spade: "He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would liked to have been and quite a few of them in their cockier [...]

By | 2018-02-20T14:46:32+00:00 February 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 35: The 39 Steps

“I returned from the City about three o’clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life." This, I think, is a perfect first line. Why is he - if it is a he - disgusted with life? What's happened up to now? And what is about to happen on that May afternoon that will [...]

By | 2018-02-25T02:13:12+00:00 February 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 33: The Bell Jar

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs . . ." So begins The Bell Jar, with an opening sentence that foreshadows events to come. Such a sentence promises the reader we are in for a remarkable story. If only the book lived up to that promise. If only its author [...]

By | 2018-01-30T13:20:57+00:00 January 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Week 32: Lord of the Flies

It kept coming to me while reading Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - the similarities between the chaos, duplicity and treachery taking place in Washington and William Golding's tale of a group of children marooned on a tropical island. Lord of the Flies is a world without grown-ups - as, [...]

By | 2018-01-23T16:06:48+00:00 January 23rd, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

How stress can make you sick – a personal story

When the doctor at the walk-in clinic asked me about my cholesterol, I brushed it off as usual. “I’m fine,” I said. “How do you know?” I told him I’d always been within the normal range for everything – cholesterol, blood pressure, kidney function, blood sugar. I’m a healthy person. I exercise regularly, eat little [...]

By | 2018-01-18T18:54:07+00:00 January 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 31: A Confederacy of Dunces

Right off the bat I have to tell you that A Confederacy of Dunces is not - I repeat, not - about the American presidency. How could it be? Its author died in 1969, when Donald Trump was 23 ... long before anyone could have predicted that this draft-dodging ladies' man would one day be [...]

By | 2018-01-16T21:25:27+00:00 January 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments