The Winter of The Blackbird

The Winter of The Blackbird

This has been the winter of the blackbird. I haven’t been out and about much for one reason or another but I seem to be seeing and hearing blackbirds wherever I go.

I haven’t seen a redwing or a fieldfare yet, maybe they’re not around, or maybe I need to get out more. Well, that’s definitely true, I do need that. Continue reading “The Winter of The Blackbird”

My First Two Reads of 2018: Autumn and Midwinter Break

My First Two Reads of 2018: Autumn and Midwinter Break

 

Lucky me, and didn’t I pick well. I’m determined to read more in 2018, and I’ve made a running start. Tús maith and all that…

 

Autumn by Ali Smith

This is a moving, compassionate and brilliant work. Oblique at time in its writing but very much worth sticking with. It’s set in current-day UK and while it refers to BREXIT and the issues of racism and nationalism appear, it’s not a BREXIT novel at all (don’t believe the press hype), it’s about the deep and life-long friendship between Elisabeth, (from child to adult) and Daniel (a neighbouring gay older man). Continue reading “My First Two Reads of 2018: Autumn and Midwinter Break”

Sport in Fiction Part 1: A Natural by Ross Raisin

Sport in Fiction Part 1: A Natural by Ross Raisin

There was something of homework about this novel. I read it soon after A Scandal by Fredrik Backman, as I wanted to see how current novelists are approaching sport as the backdrop to fiction. Seeing as how my own novel, The First Sunday in September, to be published by Mercier Press in August, attempts just that. Continue reading “Sport in Fiction Part 1: A Natural by Ross Raisin”

Notes on Conversations With Friends after Donald Barthelme’s Concerning The Bodyguard

Notes on Conversations With Friends after Donald Barthelme’s Concerning The Bodyguard

Was the reader taken aback by his emotional response to Conversations With Friends? Why was the reader so taken aback? Was it because he wasn’t expecting to fully inhabit Frances, the book’s protagonist? Especially given the first person point-of-view throughout? And was that because she is a twenty-one year old woman and he is a fifty-six year old man? Continue reading “Notes on Conversations With Friends after Donald Barthelme’s Concerning The Bodyguard”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 7

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 7

‘We’ll take it handy tomorrow,’ they said. ‘Sure it’s our last day’.

‘We won’t kill ourselves tomorrow,’ they said.

‘We’ll do a local loop out of the house and finish early and relax in the afternoon,’ they said.

For me, today’s walk was the most difficult. I’m not sure why. Maybe because my expectations were of a stroll, which it wasn’t. Maybe it was the heat – it got up to 28oC and we were exposed to sunlight for most of the walk. Maybe I’m just tired now after six days of tramping around Pyrenean mountains. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 7”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 6

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 6

I love maps. I just love them. It’s the certainty of them, I think. And the comfort that when a map says this road goes here – then it does. And this mountain is here, it’s this high and there’s a cliff there. This valley is this low, and if you take this path, you can cross the stream… here!

And so you do. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 6”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5

They go low, so we go high.

We drove south past Laruns into the mountains up to the Lac de Bious-Artigues at 1400m altitude. We were shocked, shocked I tell you, to find the car park by the lake full, with well-equipped and, worse – fit-looking – hikers setting forth. We were most aggrieved, having had the forests and mountains to ourselves the previous two days – well, except for the cattle and horses, but they didn’t clog up the paths, they weren’t smugly thin and they didn’t have hiking poles and expensive walking gear. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5”