A prose more ordinary

In a recent Guardian article, art critic Jonathan Jones wrote that Terry Pratchett’s discworld novels are not worth reading, that wasting your time reading them when you could be dragging your brain through the mire of some serious heavyweight Important Literature (please note very important capitals) is a heinous crime against art and culture. Well, sort of. He basically said he hadn’t read any Pratchett and never plans to. But he has just read some Jane Austen. So that’s nice for him. Ignore the fact that it kind of feels like he wrote the piece in about half an hour … Continue reading A prose more ordinary

Hacked up: three books you should read

For some reason, now it’s an actual thing that happens, hacking doesn’t seem to make much of an appearance in novels these days. The new book to augment Stieg Larsson’s original trilogy, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, is out at the end of the month, but so far, now Anonymous are busy tip-tapping away on their mac books, there’s been little else new in the genre. It seems like the genre had its heyday in the 90s and early 00s. Perhaps the reality of hacking isn’t as cool and romantic as it seemed when it was a distant possibility … Continue reading Hacked up: three books you should read

Cult authors, sci-fi and snobs

Who gets to choose what’s worthy of being considered serious art when it comes to writing? And why is literature so much worse at recognising really great works that just happen to fall into a genre category? Film doesn’t have this problem; there are tons of sci-fi films that are widely recognised as works of art, real slices of celluloid genius. It doesn’t seem to work the same for books; you don’t get a sci-fi author winning, or even nominated for, the Booker, at least not often. You might get a book from a more mainstream literary author, like Margaret … Continue reading Cult authors, sci-fi and snobs

An MA in Writing – what a waste of time

There have been a few articles recently on how totally rubbish having a qualification in writing is. According to more than one source (including tutors on higher education courses), talent is born, not made and an MA or similar in writing is waste of your time and money. I’ve got an MA in writing from Birmingham City University. Perhaps not the most prestigious institution, but I got my BA there too and though I do/did have some issues with the uni and the courses, I’m proud to have gone there. I chose the course because it was more interesting and varied … Continue reading An MA in Writing – what a waste of time

Are funny books less worthy?

It’s been a sad time for funny books, with Terry Pratchett’s recent passing. He was a big part of my reading life; my Dad had a load of Discworld novels that I borrowed after he’d finished. Sometimes before as well, if he wasn’t quick enough after a trip to Waterstone’s. I read Wyrd Sisters first and remember laughing out loud within three pages; after that I was hooked. From Pratchett I moved on to Robert Rankin and obviously the hilarious Douglas Adams. The books were easy to read and comforting. Funny books are the sort of thing you take on … Continue reading Are funny books less worthy?

The unclenched fist: the awesome literary genius of Alasdair Gray

“…[she] thrust an unclenched fist at me across the table. I stared at it, puzzled, until I saw she was offering to shake my hand.” That is the sentence (and a bit) that hit me in the face with what a bloody genius Alasdair Gray is. It seems like an innocuous sentence at first glance and I’ll admit it isn’t heavy with literary pyrotechnics other writers use to knock the wind out of you when you read it. It’s a quiet sentence, but it’s what it does that makes it so successful. I knew Gray was an amazing writer already. … Continue reading The unclenched fist: the awesome literary genius of Alasdair Gray