David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

Well, that wouldn’t get through the slush pile, would it?

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Julian Barnes’ review in The Guardian of William Trevor’s final collection really inspires me to get it now and read it, despite the toppling pile of books my puritan-self (who the hell is that? I’ll fight him!) says I have to read before I can buy any more. Here I steal, not from the stories of course, which I have not read, but from the review, which I have:

There are also slippages of identity and function to be endured.

And there are doubts and ambiguities at every turn.

Trevor’s fiction is full of precise evasions – and evasive precisions.


But it is the reader’s pity too, as we go back over her story and better understand …


Trevor does not make a point of being demanding or obscure; but he is very subtle.

This relates to an incident whose significance escaped me for two readings.

Mr Trevor certainly was not writing for any slush pile! Thank goodness. And how generous a reader is Mr Barnes.


Insert Smiley Face Here

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm

Write what you know is the most common writing tip you’ll find anywhere. It’s nonsense, really, because if we all did that we’d end up with terribly boring novels about writers staring out of windows waiting for inspiration to hit. (If you like those, incidentally, head straight for the literary fiction section of your nearest bookshop.)

James Smythe in The Guardian

We live in a narrative of someone else’s construction

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

The bus arrived at my stop last evening, and I ended reading ‘The Adjacent’ by Christopher Priest at “He learned to dance, to recite, to work marionettes…”. This morning, flicking through The Guardian, I read in the obituaries “My friend Frank Mumford … had a career as a marionette master spanning eight decades”. Then unprompted my son walked into the room and quoted a line from ‘Being John Malkovich’.

I suppose I should say hello back to the Universe.

Speaking of The Guardian, I was pleased to read of a resurgence of interest in the works of RA Lafferty in his centenary year, a writer of strange things with bizarre characters introduced with little or no rational explanation. Most importantly, he did not publish a story until he was 45 nor a novel until he was 54 (though he then published four in just two years), irrationally giving some of us undeserved hope. Lafferty gave me many what the…? moments, and often in my life, that was all I was looking for.

Strictly speaking, I think nostalgia would be the wrong word. I have become interested in things of my youth, but not things I was very interested in during my youth. Perhaps it is just a broadening of tastes or interests that happens to coincide with, but is not necessarily restricted to, that time. Oh, listen to him crap on! Thus:

‘Tell my wife I love her very much.’
‘She knows.’

Bowie, you poet. Is ground control reassuring Major Tom, or is his request getting in the way of business, resulting in a brusque dismissal?

‘And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.’ Major Tom, are you expressing a hope, or a lack of interest?

‘And there’s nothing I can do.’
Major Tom has achieved an acceptance that may always be beyond ground “control”. But of course, from their position, they are unable to experience the blueness of planet earth, despite the apparent power under their “control”.

‘Can you hear me, Major Tom?’
More than that, Major Tom listens to you. You’re just not saying anything. Ground control, do you listen, or do you spend your time while you are not speaking, preparing what you will say next? Hmm?

‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Suffragette City’ (She’s a total blam blam) on high rotation here.