Sunday, 24 March 2013

Res de quibus i ignoro: i

The word 'philippic' - "A scathing attack, denunciation, or invective" - relates to the speeches made by Demosthenes, warning the Athenians of Philip of Macedon's intentions.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Harvest by Jim Crace

Jim Crace writes the purest fiction.  No-one makes up their stories quite as he does.  Perhaps he shares this ability with writers of science fiction.  I don't know.  I don't read much science fiction.  This latest novel, like all his others, refers to nothing beyond its pages.  You don't need to bring external knowldge to bear.  Well, not quite true - an extensive, encyclopaedic knowledge of nouns pertaining to farming, foraging, threshing and generally making things with natural materials would help.  Never have I read a book with so many nuggety words and compounds (horse loaf, weed bread).  It is like finding that you have stepped into a Seamus Heaney poem. Sometimes it is hard to know whether a word is invented or not.  The narrator, Walter Thirsk even admits to inventing words: "There ought to be a plant called purgatory.  And another one called fletch."  What are prickly eringes? Or manchet bread?  Crace's stories have a mythic quality about them, and often read as though they have been translated by an extremely good translator. This is what gives the books their fictional purity.  The author is simply nowhere to be seen.  Crace's books are full of mysteries, often left unresolved, yet somehow the effect is one of generosity, allowing the reader to wander about the story on his own, and to make his own judgements.  Terrifically distinctive and very good.

If anyone can tell me what a prickly eringe is - the roots of which can be turned into a love potion - I'd be most grateful.  It isn't in the OED.

Harvest by Jim Crace

Monday, 11 March 2013

FVS sings Dvorak

Happened to click on this having uploaded that last one.  Breathtakingly wonderful. If those last few bars don't buckle you, I don't know what will.

Desert Island Disc contender

Federica von Stade singing Desdemona's Willow song, from Rossini's 'Otello'. 

Rather Magnificent Teenage Collage yet another brilliant niece

"Darkness Rising..."
(click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

7 Short Stories About Italian Women

The stupendously brilliant '7 Short Stories About Italian Women' is now available as an e-book from Amazon, at the astoundingly generous price of £2.05.  Details here.  Buy it if only for the really rather special 2nd prize entry...

Spectator reviews

You'd have to be fairly bored to do this, but should you be suffering an attack of ennui or lassitude, you could perhaps visit my exciting, invigorating, life-purposeful book reviews in The Spectator, here:

How far away is a thunderstorm

From the Met office:

This can roughly be estimated by measuring the interval between the lightning flash and the start of
the thunder. If you count the time in seconds and then divide by three, you will have the approximate
distance in kilometres. Thunder is rarely heard at a distance of more than 20 km.