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

Monica Dickens, One Pair of Feet

Today’s letter is D, for Monica Dickens. She’s the great-grand-daughter of Charles Dickens, and she too was very prolific, publishing about 30 novels and memoirs, including the Follyfoot horse stories. I'm not very interested in horse novels, so I didn’t discover Monica Dickens until I found her on my mother’s bookshelf some time in my teens. One Pair of … Continue reading Monica Dickens, One Pair of Feet

Now posting on Vulpes Libris: North Korean magical realism

I've posted a review of Hwang Sok-yong's novel Princess Bari over on Vulpes Libris: magical realism, forest survival, spirit voices, starvation, reflexology, snakehead extortion, refugee survival, the long arm of the law circumvented by smiling faces and deft disappearances, the floating, shifting population of London's migrant communities and the silent snowy Chinese hillsides where Bari is taught … Continue reading Now posting on Vulpes Libris: North Korean magical realism

Mad Max: Imperator Furiosa

(Warning: here be spoilers.) I don’t know why this Mad Max film is subtitled ‘Fury Road’. No-one cares or remembers what this ‘road’ is, because it’s a journey, not an actual road, and every film in the series has angry characters. What most people will remember as the film’s defining phrase is the lead character’s name, … Continue reading Mad Max: Imperator Furiosa