Reviews Published

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Old Year 2007!!!

With only five shopping days left till New Year’s Eve, here is your chance to buy me a bottle of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame... er, I mean, here is your chance to tell me about the most memorable book of 2007. It may be a book you read, or tried to read and failed, or heard about and never got the chance to buy.

Here’s mine, and it’s no surprise for regular readers of this blog:
· Lionel Shriver’s “Post-Birthday World”!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Your Christmas Wish List

I admit I stole this idea straight from But it’s such a good one, it needs to be propagated. And besides, don’t they say that plagiarism is the finest form of flattery?

So this is your chance to share your list of books you would like to find under the tree this season, or the list of books you wish on others (for noble or not so noble reasons).

Authors, feel free to advertise your book.

Here is a short appetiser to get you going: this Christmas I wish... I wish... I wish that everybody would spend 80 cents on “Small Price to Pay”:

I didn't mind it when I discovered that Nick was having an affair. I mean, I did mind, but we'd been married twenty years. We've had some good times, we've had some bad times, but most of all, we've had some very long lacklustre times. What more can I say?
So it was not the affair that hurt. It was what he'd said.
A week ago, I picked up the phone to arrange a summer camp for the children. That's when I heard her voice--on my phone--to my husband--discussing a holiday away together.
"I'll keep the sheets hot for you, Nicky."
Nicky? I had tried calling him that once in our early days, and Nick had hated it.
"Hot, huh?" Okay, so flirting is not my husband's strong suite. But his voice was liquid chocolate.
"That's right. Hot. Come as quickly as you can."
I almost burst out laughing when I remembered, unkindly, how quickly Nick can come.
"Patience, M," Nick was saying meanwhile. "We have a whole week."
M. My husband was having an affair with M, the least likely Bond girl of them all.
"Aren't you worried to leave your wife alone for that long, though?" she teased. "What's good for the gander, you know...."
"Nah," replied my husband. "She's too vain to have an affair when she's fat."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pterry: “I aten’t dead”

L-space is bending into itself in the aftershocks of the Alzheimer news today. Terry Pratchett’s press release about his prognosis was short, factual and with a just a micro-trace of his trademark humour to put an optimistic spin on it. He did not say “I aten’t dead yet”, but he may as well have.

This blow could have happened to a lesser writer (a number of, in fact).

It didn’t.

Perhaps ill health is a by-product of genius, then, or perhaps genius is a by-product of an organism that knows (on a molecular level) its time may be limited. After all, it’s been speculated that Felix Mendelssohn had a brain tumour, that Mozart suffered from Tourette Syndrome, that Einstein was autistic. If that’s the price you pay for brilliance, I’ll settle for featuring on the New York Times Top Ten with a book that will astonish the readers by its lack of genius...

Anyway, for updates on Terry and the Discworld, please see

Friday, December 07, 2007

Writing The Breakout Novel

This is the third time - in about as many years - that I’m going through the book “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass (writer and literary agent). The title says it: if you want to enhance your pacing, your plot or your characters, then this is the manual for you.

Some of the practical advice that you can expect from the book includes:
· Raise the personal stakes so that they “dig deep down to show us who we are”. The higher the stakes, the higher the novel’s success.
· Remember that the setting is more than landscape or rooms: it’s the geographical and historical context for your characters’ ideas, motivation and actions.
· “Subplots must affect the overall outcome of the story.”
· We all need heroes. Is the main character of your novel a real hero or just a protagonist?
· Conflicting ideas = tension.
· Stir your reader: if you have a dog in your story, kick it. If you have a character who’s easy to like, kill them.
· Let the theme of the novel arise from your passion.
· Symbols may either enhance your novel, or make it feel stage-y.

A word of warning here: if you are a true writer, you will find it difficult to read the book from cover to cover. After the first chapter, you will have this insatiable urge to open your work-in-progress and start writing....

(Sorry to end this mid-air, but I’ve just paged through “Writing the Breakout Novel” looking for quotes and now you can find me in front of my latest manuscript.)