"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
Author Archive
Squinting at DeLillo

Squinting at DeLillo

“I thought, Is this the world as it truly looks? Is this the reality we haven’t learned how to see?” Artis Martineau, Zero K Those who came of age in the nineties will no doubt remember the Magic Eye craze. Many will recall the fraught minutes spent studying these seemingly-abstract images, trying to ‘relax’ our...
Heirlooms

Heirlooms

As a devourer of fiction, I tend to swallow untruths whole. If a story can hold my attention, if it can make me care deeply enough about its characters, then my disbelief becomes a feather which I will gladly suspend for as long as it takes to see them through their trials. So Gregor Samsa...
Greatly exaggerated

Greatly exaggerated

It seems to me that if you’re a critic wanting to make a name for yourself in a particular field, there’s one surefire way to accomplish that goal. Film critics, quit pouring your heart and soul into that piece that will forever alter the way we look at Citizen Kane. Music-mag columnists, forget about the...
Freedom suite

Freedom suite

February 1st marks National Freedom Day in the United States. Initiated in the 1940s, the holiday commemorates Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, which banned slavery. Its intent is to “promote good feelings, harmony, and equal opportunity among all citizens and to remember that the United States is a nation dedicated to...
Waiting on the shelf

Waiting on the shelf

When my wife and I married fourteen years ago, our two bookcases became one. It was a lopsided union. Roxanne had cultivated her book collection for years, saving everything she read, all the way back to a desiccated hardcover anthology of Czech short stories she’d liberated from her public library in high school. I, on...
Writing on with a joyful cackle

Writing on with a joyful cackle

Perhaps Stephen King skimmed over the fine print when he signed his deal with the Devil to become one of the most successful authors of all time. Maybe the streetlights were too dim on that gloomy night at the crossroads, and he missed the clause that stated: “Henceforth, upon expiration of x months on worldwide...
Writing about nothing

Writing about nothing

In a clip I never tire of watching, filmed on the Scandinavian leg of her 1976 tour, punk-rock legend Patti Smith takes perhaps the tamest song in the Velvet Underground’s repertoire and bawls it at us with a screech that is raw, ferocious, tortured. Her poet’s instincts turn Lou Reed’s bland line “lately you just...
Something better change

Something better change

The opening shots of guitarist Ivan Kral’s documentary Dancing Barefoot are a series of home-movie clips from New Year’s Eve 1975 at the legendary nightclub CBGB. Over the brooding vamp of the Patti Smith Group’s cover of ‘Gloria’, Kral treats us to overexposed black-and-white shots of New York’s punk-rock royalty, ringing in the New Year...
Even the losers

Even the losers

Here’s a little thought experiment for you: imagine you’re sitting at a bar, flanked by two strangers. On your left, a fortyish New Jerseyite orders round after round, which he downs in hefty swigs while examining the sloppy, bloodstained bandages wrapped around his left hand. Catching you staring, with a grin he launches into the...
Housewarming

Housewarming

His grin shows off his molars, and he grips you with a handshake that could hold up a bridge. He announces his name like he’s its proud parent, and then holds your gaze in a vice so that when you mumble your own name back to him, it sounds like ‘Uncle’. When you turn a...