Tell Me What You Read: Wendy Bryant

In Tell Me What You Read, a new feature on this blog, I interview well-kenned folk in public life about how their reading has shaped their lives, in the past and now.  This week, Wendy Bryant, senior lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of Essex, artist and dog-walker Tell me which authors, or what reading, you … Continue reading Tell Me What You Read: Wendy Bryant

1960s fetish magazines and ‘deviant’ porn: Gillian Freeman’s The Undergrowth of Literature

I tripped up over this remarkable 1967 study of fetish magazines in an academic second-hand bookshop, looking for something on magazine history. I didn't notice till later that the cover presents a rather stylised bondage scene, and so I decided that perhaps I wouldn't be reading this on the plane. When I did read it, at least two … Continue reading 1960s fetish magazines and ‘deviant’ porn: Gillian Freeman’s The Undergrowth of Literature

Tell Me What You Read: Kenny Farquharson

In Tell Me What You Read, a new feature on this blog, I interview well-kenned folk in public life about how their reading has shaped their lives, in the past and now.  This week: Kenny Farquharson, journalist, formerly deputy editor of Scotland on Sunday, now columnist and senior writer for The Times.  Tell me which … Continue reading Tell Me What You Read: Kenny Farquharson

Death on the walls at the Waterloo Panorama

If you ever go to Waterloo, a 20-minute drive south of Brussels on the motorway, you’ll find a very small village entirely focused on the tourist site. It's dominated by a massive conical mound with a stone lion on top, and a 19th-century circular building housing an epic panoramic painting of the Battle of Waterloo -  the … Continue reading Death on the walls at the Waterloo Panorama

Save us from historical fiction done badly

I began reading a historical novel last week, sent to me for review, and it was too annoying to finish. I poked around for some time in different chapters, looking for enticements to keep reading, and decided that to review it the way I felt would be cruel and meaningless punishment for the author. The publisher was the … Continue reading Save us from historical fiction done badly

Now posting on Vulpes Libris: the drinking in Hemingway

Over on Vulpes Libris we're having a Drinking Week. My contribution is a little something on how Ernest Hemingway wrote about alcohol. The most powerful descriptions of drinking in the alcoholic sense that I can remember are in Alan Warner's Morvern Callar, which turned my sensibilities so much I couldn't finish the novel. I know … Continue reading Now posting on Vulpes Libris: the drinking in Hemingway

Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

Today’s letter is E, for Laura Esquivel. This Mexican writer is most well-known for her first novel, Like Water for Chocolate (1989). It was made into a film in 1994, but what I didn’t know until I did a little research on Esquivel was that the novel was written before the film. Everyone had told Esquivel, who was a nursery … Continue reading Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate