"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
March 2014
War stories for children

War stories for children

“Maybe humans aren’t such a terrible animal after all,” reflects a whale that daydreams about aeroplanes in the sky and fatefully falls in love with a Japanese submarine. As the whale insouciantly navigates the sardine-filled waters of nature, the human sea-routes of warships and submarines and the airways of military planes are rife with death...
On the trail of Gideon Lewis-Kraus

On the trail of Gideon Lewis-Kraus

In his discursive and entertaining debut A Sense of Direction Gideon Lewis-Kraus challenges the boundaries of memoir and travelogue as he departs a life of lazy curiosity and stale hedonism in Berlin to embark on three distinct pilgrimages to examine how we may be defined by ritual, desire and purpose. Along the well-trodden trail of...
Hanging by the bay

Hanging by the bay

I live in Santa Cruz, California, on the very edge of the continent and one of the most beautiful places on planet earth. Most mornings I take a walk along West Cliff Drive, where I am joined by joggers, strollers, dogs, bicyclists and tourists. The ocean is below us; the path winds along the cliffs...
Not old enough to die

Not old enough to die

I’ll start with the early winter of 1996. I was lying in a hospital bed. I had been found after trying to kill myself by swallowing a lethal dose of sleeping pills with whiskey – an attempted suicide patient, they called me. When I opened my eyes, rain was falling outside the window. A few...
Anna Whitwham: Boxing clever

Anna Whitwham: Boxing clever

I’m late to meet Anna Whitwham, and as I rush into the appointed café, I spy a familiar-looking blonde woman tapping away at a laptop. We stare at each other. This must be Anna, I think. It’s actually Rachel Johnson who once wrote a book called Notting Hell, and Anna Whitwham is sat quietly behind...
Rebecca Mead's book for life

Rebecca Mead’s book for life

Just like Rebecca Mead, I too first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch as a seventeen-year-old impatiently waiting for my life to begin in the small town in which I grew up. Unlike Mead, however, I struggled with the century-old study of provincial life. My resistance to the text exacerbated by the fact I was studying it...
My own private love club

My own private love club

Robert Glancy’s debut novel Terms & Conditions tells the story of a lawyer specialising in jargon-filled small print and footnotes no one ever reads, whose life unravels after an apparent road accident. He looks back with fond imagination on a book tour that turned out nothing like a car crash. 1 February The launch of...
Animal scruples

Animal scruples

Two poems from La Fontaine’s Selected Fables, relating that the natures of two-legged and four-legged creatures have a great deal in common. From a delightful new translation with an introduction and explanatory notes by Christopher Betts published by Oxford University Press, and illustrated throughout with Gustave Doré’s exquisite original engravings.   The rat and the...
Ex cathedra

Ex cathedra

“Godfather, you’ll go blind from that, sir.” “What?” “You’re going to go blind. Reading is so sad. No sir, give me that book.” Caetaninha took the book out of his hands. Her godfather paced around and then went into his study, where there was no lack of books. He closed the door behind him and...
Origami

Origami

Another paper cut. Rebecca’s hands were a mess: swollen with tiny cuts, peppered with dry patches. She’d have to make sure they were all healed before Sean got home, or he would know what she’d been doing. She checked the clock. Almost six: she’d better get some dinner on. She pottered around the flat, checking...