"The mind is a fascinating thing, and that also plays to the supernatural. Is it real or isn’t it? Does anyone really know?" S.J.I. Holliday
A hunger artist

A hunger artist

In the past few decades public interest in the art of fasting has drastically declined. While it used to be very profitable to put on big, stand-alone exhibitions, doing so today would be completely impossible. It was another time. Back then, the whole city would get caught up in what...
Animal

Animal

Animal: Exploring the Zoological World is a visually stunning and broad-ranging exploration and celebration of humankind’s ongoing fascination with the world’s remarkable fauna. Since our very first moments on earth, we have been compelled to make images of the curious beasts around us – whether as sources of food, danger,...
Shadows and elevations

Shadows and elevations

With his camera and notebook, Jack London circles Hawksmoor’s Christ Church. He does not look up at the portico, the threatening mass of columns, ledges and alcoves. The Mayan dagger of the steeple. He does not step beyond the defensive railings. He stays outside. A photograph from distance, in which...
In too deep

In too deep

Having laid my son-in-law out for the count, I continue on my way. From the outside, anyone might think I’ve lost all feeling. Once upon a time, I knew myself well. I mean that my behaviour rarely surprised me. When you’ve experienced most situations, you also learn the correct responses...
Before all this

Before all this

Before all this there were phone calls, there were letters, there were postcards, there were badly printed posters in corner shop windows, there were crowded notice boards, there was proper conversation. There were names and numbers written in tipsy scrawl on the peeled-off backs of beermats. There was ink. There...
Louise Candlish: Location, location

Louise Candlish: Location, location

Louise Candlish’s twelfth novel Our House is an outstanding thriller that has been receiving high praise. I had the good fortune to meet Louise earlier this year in Bristol where we were both attending Crimefest. A few weeks later I received a copy of Our House in the post. Set...
City limits

City limits

They say everybody has at least one book inside them. I know I did once. The only question back then was which language it would be written in. I’ve introduced you to the in-laws, now meet my parents. Like the husband’s family, we all were born, live and will almost...
Puppetmasters

Puppetmasters

Do you ever have the feeling that somebody or something is influencing your life in some way? Making you do the foolish things that you know you really shouldn’t, providing snakes where in fact you should be going up ladders? You’re quite right. There is. The somebody is you, programmed...
Latest entries
A death in the neighbourhood

A death in the neighbourhood

Biljana Jovanović’s Dogs and Others is strong medicine. It depicts a young person’s attempt to ‘invent her childhood’ and ‘liberate her memory’ while she negotiates a bohemian, urban existence in Yugoslavia in the 1970s; it is more than graphic, and painful, and awkward at times: it is a tale of catastrophe, really and truly annihilating...
Loving Milena

Loving Milena

At the beginning of April, Little River came over with Milena; he twisted at the waist, pulled his head into his shoulders, smiled as condescendingly as ever, and said: ‘This is my good friend Milena… And this is Lidia, and Danilo. I was telling you about them. Now come meet Granny…’ Until then, Čeda of...
An alternate story

An alternate story

It turns out Chiara is a member of a group of Hollywood types who gather every few years or so in the Catskills. In a woodsy agricultural setting, Chiara’s group plays parlor games and captures ghosts in séances and commands lunar apogees and exhibits all sorts of megalomaniac tendencies, in small and unreported doses, usually...
Black is the badge of hell

Black is the badge of hell

“Black is the badge of hell / the hue of dungeons and the school of night,” laments Ferdinand, King of Navarre in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour Lost. Some versions of the text offer scowl, style or suit instead of school, and one is tempted to think that Stephen Greenblatt would have boldly and keenly pressed for...
Emma Curtis: Face to face

Emma Curtis: Face to face

Writers find inspiration in many places, some more interesting than others. A quick poll on Twitter was met with the following responses: an overheard conversation in a cafe, a photo of a flood on the wall of a local pub, a piece of flash fiction, a news article, and a chance encounter with Martin Scorsese...
The genius of too much and too little

The genius of too much and too little

“They call them sculptures because they’re made of marble or iron or wood, but they’re really yarns, brief stories from the past that got stuck in your throat, pills that wouldn’t quite go down; you blurt them, mumble them, ruminate over them. And then they show them in Paris.” Whether narratives of an inner life,...
Darker than a deep silence

Darker than a deep silence

It was the dead of night – more precisely two o’clock on the morning of Monday 29th September 1893 – when Augusto De Boer and his daughter set off. Such was Jole’s emotion, she could feel her heart bursting. Her hands were cold and sweaty and moved in an awkward way. She had got out...
Unlocking vanishing voices

Unlocking vanishing voices

Travelling through Burma (Myanmar) in the mid-1990s, Jan-Philipp Sendker, a young German journalist for Stern and other publications, is given as a parting gift a tattered old book, carefully restored by a local bookseller who has spent many days sticking small pieces of paper over its hole-ridden pages, and retracing by hand the obliterated printed...
The clever monkeys

The clever monkeys

A good long time ago there lived a man who wove and sold hats of straw. All of the farmers needed his hats to keep their heads out of the sun while they worked in the fields, so business was generally good. One day after finishing a batch of hats he packed them in a...
Hauntings on the home front

Hauntings on the home front

If my recent reading list is anything to go by, crime novels that touch on the paranormal are growing in popularity. Often set in houses that evoke an atmosphere of fear and dread, many of these storylines have elements found in Gothic horror. The reader is left to decide whether the house is truly haunted...