new work alert

Towards the end of the first UK lockdown (circa May/June 2020, who really remembers), I started seriously reading Platonov. As a lover of Russian writing, I found myself ashamed not to have read him before. As translator Robert Chandler notes:  “in his mature work Platonov seems to delight in eliding every conceivable boundary—between animal andContinue reading “new work alert”

cultivating sorrow in a locked chest

Reading some old, old letters written by my father to his brother, I came across this critique of the ‘dead sterility of Beckett’: ‘audiences feel at once flattered and reassured by him…the modish despair helps. There is something comforting…how much harder to accept and live up to Blake’s optimism, which is a judgement on allContinue reading “cultivating sorrow in a locked chest”

being and doing in public places

‘It was an exceptionally soft balmy evening for the time of year, which was just that transient period in the May month when beech trees have suddenly unfolded large limp leaves of the softness of butterflies’ wings. Boughs bearing such leaves hung low around and completely enclosed them, so that it was as if theyContinue reading “being and doing in public places”

the politics of incarceration

18 July 2020  ”I was only a working-class boy from a Nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. I shall not settle until I achieve liberation of my country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign, independent socialist republic. ” The words of Bobby Sands as quoted in IRIS, Vol. 1,Continue reading “the politics of incarceration”

where are we?

11 July 2020 I often think about what Dickens would be writing about if he had been writing now. I’ve long thought that he’d be writing for television: incisive, insightful portrayals of contemporary life. Maybe a writer like Michaela Coel, whose I May Destroy You is one of the best, most beautifully made, pieces ofContinue reading “where are we?”