“You have one body and one life to live and you only get this one shot – and that reality can drive you crazy.” Ottessa Moshfegh
Posts tagged "Bloomsbury Circus"
Tishani Doshi: Shifting tides

Tishani Doshi: Shifting tides

 There is nothing small about Tishani Doshi’s tightly wrought second novel Small Days and Nights – just as there is nothing small about India. Whether writing about its people, the scale of the challenges facing a country of epic unequal proportions, or simply describing the natural world on a wild strip of beach, Doshi...
Too close for comfort

Too close for comfort

In cities, crime rates rise with the temperature but I’ve often wondered how many murders happen because of summer holidays. After all, British murder rates spike at Christmas – all those long, workless, alcohol-soaked days closeted away from the real world with the people who know us best: our family. What surer crucible for psychological...
Transformers

Transformers

Years ago, when I was starting out as a writer, I met a literary agent. “What do you want to see happen to characters in a story?” I asked him. His reply was simple: “I want to see them changed.” In many ways, identity change is a central part of most stories. Through the experiences...
Margaret Atwood: 'Rape Fantasies'

Margaret Atwood: ‘Rape Fantasies’

‘It’. Ten times in the first two paragraphs of Margaret Atwood’s classic ‘Rape Fantasies’, the chatterbox narrator, Estelle, avoids naming rape – plainly the topic she wants to address. And who is this Estelle? Oh, she’s quite the card, quite the jokester about rape, although she does take constant detours from her topic. So we...
The empress's new clothes

The empress’s new clothes

One of the things that crops up a lot if you set fantasy in a historical period is, what’s real? I wrote about a watchmaker who remembers the future and that was fun, but it made everything else in the book look like I might have made it all up. Actually, I didn’t really make...
Coming of age novels

Coming of age novels

These books have nothing and everything in common. They come from different times, different genders. Their stories are as diverse as the way they are told. Some were written for adults, some for young people. The windows they provide into adolescence are varied, each refracting something distinct. But then: there are the first loves, the...
Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

Blood, Bible, Brer Rabbit and The Bear

In my neck of the woods, so to speak – the southern United States – the question is often posed, especially by people who are from away: “Why is there such a rich literary tradition in a region known to most of the world (those who know it at all) as poor, and religiously and...
Abracadabra!

Abracadabra!

Neil Bartlett’s The Disappearance Boy is a dark tale of lost and found love and fading glamour behind the velvet curtains of 1950s variety theatre, in which magician’s assistant Reggie Rainbow does his best to keep his own thoughts and actions out of sight and mind by sleight of hand. Neil discusses his writing rituals...
Exercise and experience

Exercise and experience

Like most fiction writers I write much that is abandoned. One response to this was to think that I have wasted all this time, but a writer I admire once said to me that “there’s no time wasted writing.” I also have this vivid memory of reading lines by William Faulkner, where he compares the...
Why read on?

Why read on?

The author of The Following Girls, a tragi-comic novel of shrinking horizons, dangerous alliances and not-so-happy families in 1970s Britain, shares her tips for approaching fiction. Be wary of all rules. When pressed for tips, novelists can become astonishingly dogmatic – usually extrapolating from their own working practice: “never use adverbs”, “avoid flashbacks”, “shun exclamation...