Wednesday, 4 September 2013


For some time, I've felt we needed a spot to show our appreciation for a person's creative output.  This time for reflection generally follows an announcement of retirement, illness or death and so carries a sense of loss, maybe not personal loss, but at the very least, the knowledge that there will be no new work to look forward to. Rather than eulogising, shall we share the pleasure of particular books, music or performances?


  1. Once read, who could forget Scottish author Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory? - a macabre tale rather like early Ian McEwan. Banks, publishing mainstream fiction as 'Iain Banks' and 'Iain M Banks' for his speculative fiction, was prolific and much awarded. I've not sampled his spec fiction but I was impressed by his original storylines in both The Wasp Factory and Complicity (a crime/thriller). The good news is that his last book, The Quarry has just been released, drawing on the experience of his illness.

    By the way, I have an e-version of The Wasp Factory, which I'm happy to share.

  2. Back in the early 80's my mother-in-law handed me a wrapped present for no other reason other than " you will enjoy this". I was young and this was Nancy's way of creating a relationship with her son's unconventional partner. The parcel was a smallish book with the title "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 1/2". Nancy was right - I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a lovestruck, angst ridden teenage diarist, and followed Adrian's adventures with further books in the series, including "The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole" ,"Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years" and "Adrian Mole : The Prostrate Years"

    We lost the author Susan Townsend last week. Apparently she had been working on another tale about lacklustre Adrian which was due to be published later this year. Nancy was also correct in that she and I discovered a common interest in reading, and my Mole books have since been read by my own daughters

  3. Yes, it was sad to read of her passing and hadn't known about her diabetes and consequent blindness. I only ever read the first two but thoroughly enjoyed them.

  4. So it's been five days now and I think somebody should say something about the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Presumably, many of you on here will be far better qualified to speak on this topic than I am, given that I've only read his two most famous works Love in the Time of Cholera and 100 Years of Solitude. I've never thought to dig out his less-known gems, so if you have, please feel free to step in.

    When I had finished both books (about four years apart), I remember thinking that he was a great writer, but that was about it. I don't recall any strong emotional attachment to either of them or to Marquez, and I had no real desire to read these works again - it was merely about checking them off my list. But now, five days after his death and after reading some of the tributes to his life and his works, I feel this odd sense of loss. The news of his death, all the way from Mexico City, has hit me much harder than I'd ever imagined.

    I won't even try to describe Marquez's relevance with any kind of authority. I've just consulted my notes and all I seem to have written at the time was something along the lines of "good writer". But I am a huge fan of Louis de Bernieres (of Red Dog/Captain Corelli's fame), and, way back in 2010, I also thought to note that de Bernieres was almost an exact replica of (read "heavily influenced by") Marquez's. And I'm sure Louis is not the only one.

    Flicking through his books now, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a fantastic, lyrical writer who deserved every accolade and award he got (even if, like me, you find the whole "magical realism" thing overrated). The whole of Latin America is mourning his death and I would encourage you all to check out some of the tributes:

    And please, if you know his work better than I do, tell me more. I just might revisit his wider works yet...

  5. I somehow missed reading about his death. Like you, I read the two you mention, many years ago when they first came out. I was also very moved by both of them and thinking what a great and unique talent he had but I haven't read any since then and am no expert on anything!

  6. In recent weeks we have lost two prolific writers : P D James and Colleen McCullough.

    Does anyone have a fond memory , or a favourite novel, by either of these authors ?

  7. I'm not a fan of Colleen McCullogh although I know her books are very popular. I've read all of P D James and enjoyed them all, particularly the Inspector Dalgleish series. "The Children of Men" was very different and a one-off - written in 2006 and set in 2021when male fertility for some reason has diminished and almost no babies are being born. It has always stuck in my mind so must have been well written, It was made into a film with Clive Owen.