If you have the slightest interest in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, this book is essential reading. It explains how the coalition came about (and how much secret preparation had been made in the run-up to the 2010 election despite public disavowals) and how it continued to exist despite some severe internal and external … More ‘In It Together’ by Matthew D’Ancona
There’s a point near the end of this extraordinary novel when the poet Robert Graves is lost in obsessive rage and his accountant tells him ‘to grow up, to stop behaving like a child before it was too late, before he lost all credibility with his peers and his public.’ The accountant, however, is the … More ‘The White Goddess’ by Simon Gough
What a lovely way to discover new poems this book is. The title is deliberately provocative and makes you (well me) say to yourself ‘Well that didn’t make me cry’ after reading each selection. In fact none of them made me cry or even become slightly teary which may say more about me than the … More Poems That Make Grown Men Cry
Sarah Crompton, writing in the Telegraph, puts very succinctly the way I feel about books and reading and, specifically, that it’s impossible to measure the way that reading fiction shapes your personality. You can read the whole article here. She’s referring to Toni Morrison’s talk at Hay-on-Wye, a Twitter campaign to come up with 10 favourite books … More Books as ‘tools for living’
This is a curious book. It’s deeply touching but in some important parts the emotional engagement is lacking. What I mean by that is that the narrator, his sister and even his father, the ‘Big Hoom’ of the title never seem to become much more than the supporting characters that they are. I never felt … More ‘Em and the Big Hoom’ by Jerry Pinto
There’s nothing like a week off for catching up on the books and music that fall by the wayside during busy times. Here, then, is a quick round-up of recent reading and listening that, if you’re looking for ideas, I can strongly recommend. Reading Hubert Selby Jr, ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn.’ As brutal and brilliant as … More Recent recommendations
One of those books I’ve always intended but failed to read, I now know that ‘Utz’ is a strange and enjoyable novella that’s short enough to complete in a few hours. I read it twice in quick succession to try to get a better grasp of an elusive story. That story is seemingly simple: Kaspar … More ‘Utz’ by Bruce Chatwin
I can’t recommend this beautifully-written novel highly enough. Francesca Rhydderch barely puts a foot wrong as she tells an extraordinary story. That story is compelling in itself concerned as it is with the experiences of Elsa, a Welsh woman living in wartime Hong Kong when the Japanese invade. It plays out the life-changing effects of interment, … More ‘The Rice Paper Diaries’ by Francesca Rhydderch
My review of Griff Rhys Jones’ new(ish) book, ‘Insufficiently Welsh’ is over on Wales Arts Review. Follow this link and while you’re there enjoy another selection of top notch writing and reviews.
My review of Peter Hain’s book ‘Ad and Wal’ is in the latest edition of Wales Arts Review. You can read it here and my interview with the author here. While you’re there have a look at the rest of the goodies on offer; there are plenty of them.