Hello 2016

It has been a long time since I last blogged so *thank you* for reading if you have returned and may this year bring much joy and inspiration.
I've been working on the final proofs for Slant Light, and looking for a prefatory quote.
Being a bit of a quote hoarder, I had quite a few good ones scribbled in the back of my diaries from over the years. One I have liked for a while is the brief: "More detail in the cow parsley" by David Hockney. There is something true and funny about it. But it's somehow too allusive and light weight.
There are others, too, "A flower passes, and that is the best of it" by DH Lawrence, and "Where the bats go round without answer" by Ted Hughes. But none of them seem right, so we have gone with a creamy blank page. And I am proud to dedicate it to my children, all three (!) of them.
We are also getting some readings set up, including a launch on April 20th at Liverpool University. I've never been to Liverpool. Really looking forward to this..


It's been so busy with a little one that I haven't had time for any sustained or concentrated reading. If I get through the London Review of Books in a fortnight, then I give myself a very small pat on the back. I have so enjoyed David Almond's "A song for Ella Grey" which is a re-telling of the Orpheus myth, ostensibly for teenagers. I bought it for our newly teenage son (who also enjoys Harry Enfield's Kevin very much) but he has not read it yet, being into Jeeves and Wooster at the moment. I wonder if it is the case of a book which adults think is a "nice thing" for children, just as they might approve of "nice friends". In any case, a song for Ella Grey is just exquisite. Almond is one of my favourite writers. He mixes a delicate spirituality with north-east earthiness, that makes for a rich, delicious register.
Here's a description of Orpheus' lyre: "It was a clumsy-looking, homemade-looking kind of thing ... seemed made of drift wood, waste wood, any wood. But when he played, it sang so sweet, so deep. Even the clunks of the thickest strings were right. They held the music down to earth, even as it seemed to float away to nothingness.
"The crudeness and the sweetness rang together, like the body and the soul, the earth and sky. And his voice. Like something from a billion miles away and somewhere very close. Like something ancient, something very new. How can I say this? Wouldn't have known to say such things just a few short months ago."

The other book I have much enjoyed recently is Sophie Herxheimer's tender and vivid The Listening Forest. But the baby has woken up and I won't do it justice so I will blog about it very soon.


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