A mirror and a window both

In ‘S/Z’, his wonderful, word by word dissection of a Balzac short story, Barthes notes that ‘in the text, only the reader speaks.’ There’s a fascinating point about the process of reading to be drawn out of that. When we read a book, he’s saying, we read it in our voice, hearing the words inContinue reading “A mirror and a window both”

Solomon Kane 2007

It’s an odd thing, but when Robert E. Howard (yup, the Conan bloke) wrote his Solomon Kane stories, he provided an uncannily precise analysis of a certain kind of American exceptionalism. Solomon Kane is a sixteenth century Puritan with a thirst for justice, who travels the world righting wrongs. He’s occasionally assisted by an agedContinue reading “Solomon Kane 2007”

Our needs, character needs

Well, a slightly distracted post today, as I’m at home, working on a re-draft of the novel. It’s coming together nicely; so far I’ve chopped out about 10,000 words. Key changes so far are to get rid of the very slow moving opening chapters, and sharpen up the ghostly hermaphrodite from another dimension that’s aContinue reading “Our needs, character needs”

The weakness / achievement gap

Well, the Alan Wall Guide to Writing has arrived (you can also check out his music here), and skimming through it this morning over my breakfast toast I was already feeling sparked by it. For example, here’s Wall on one of fiction’s key obsessions: ‘Fiction is fascinated by darkness and misfortune, and ‘plot’ is usuallyContinue reading “The weakness / achievement gap”

A heart of darkness

Felt a bit bummed out yesterday, so that inevitably made me think of William Hope Hodgson’s ‘The Night Land’, the book that nearly gave me a nervous breakdown over New Year 1999 / 2000. Normally, I love William Hope Hodgson. His berserk imagery, unhinged sense of space and time, and deep nautical experience (at timesContinue reading “A heart of darkness”

Nostalgia for an age yet to come

Been pondering what to write about today, as it’s been a pretty distracted day, and for some reason I feel the call of Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury… in fact, of Planetary Romances. There’s a wonderful point of connection between the two writers. In one of ‘The Martian Chronicles’ stories, ‘Night Meeting’, the Human protagonistContinue reading “Nostalgia for an age yet to come”