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September 2012

August 2012

An education in writing

One of my favourite authors of all is Elizabeth Bowen. And the other day I went back to my favourite of her novels, The Heat of the Day, which I can't recommend highly enough. Her characters and settings are so memorable that in between times I forget how much of a modernist she was: the writing has the kind of density which is born of a precise attention to physicality but also to thought and sensation, and it can be quite elliptical. It's like looking at a photograph so full of texture and form that your eye feels it powerfully,... Read more →


...and - well - what shall we call the good kind of not-writing? (as opposed to the bad kind). Because that's what I've been doing the last few days. Not least thanks to - of all places - the National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, in North Devon, which is heaven for a historical novelist. And heavenly for just about anyone is the kind of evening we spent walking a tiny bit of the North Devon Coast. I'm staying for the third time at Deborah Dooley's Retreats for You, (I blogged about the first time here, and the second,... Read more →

London Road Calling

Last week I went to see London Road at the National Theatre. It's a verbatim play: its script contains nothing but things real people actually said over two years from the first of the Ipswich Murders, to the conviction of the murderer. And as we discussed it, I remembered the part of the Writing for Radio course I've just done, where we explored the use you could make of pre-existing spoken-word material - news broadcasts, for example, or other kinds of sound clip, right back to the days when you tuned your wireless from the Local or the National, and... Read more →