Seven months later …

GolesworthyswindowSpent spring and summer on the hill and many hot afternoons in the ‘van catching up with friends and family. Also caught Lorrie Moore and Joshua Ferris reading at the Hay Festival which was brilliant!

This time here (our third summer) I’ve read a LOT: Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams; Richard Ford, Canada; Annie Proulx’s Bird Cloud; Paul Theroux on The Old Patagonian Express; Bruce Chatwin On The Black Hill; Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways; Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories; Kyle Minor, In The Devil’s Territory; Don DeLillo – Americana; Anthony Doerr, The Shell Collector.

Currently reading (bad habit but yes, I do read several simultaneously): Lee Rourke’s Vulgar Things (captivating read in caravan!); Sarah Hilary’s debut crime novel Someone Else’s Skin (and my first crime novel); Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist; Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki; Joshua Ferris’s Man Booker shortlisted novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; Kelly Link’s collection Pretty Monsters – and after I’ve been to the library tomorrow, the J. Robert Lennon collection, Pieces of the Left Hand.

Nearly all my short story reading has come via The Short Review (I’m editor) – from past reviews as well as newly published collections that come our way.

Had a year of writing/drafting only – no editing no rewriting no submissions – to work out what sort of a writer I am. It was scary to step back and not submit, and there were times I when I nearly waded back in, but the year I spent working this out, will I hope, be worth it.

[Photo: Golesworthy's window. 2014. Diane Becker]

On the border

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Most days I cross the border from Wales to England, on foot, either to pick up the car or do some shopping at the local supermarket. I’ve taken these photos over the last few months. Some were taken in the afternoon on my way back home across the border, others – rare ones that show the sun shining directly into the lens – were taken in the morning. These remind me that I’m facing east.

Happy Reading 2014

nye2013Pretty much a fictional version of my New Year’s Eve (above), one in which I didn’t stay in, play Scrabble – or win. Two very different novels to start the year too: Travis Jeppesen’s The Suiciders to take me out of my literary comfort zone and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (recommended here), a huge cake of a book I’m going to indulge in over January.

Here’s the list of books I read in 2013. Particularly enjoyed the Junot Diaz, Anthony Doerr and George Saunders’ short story collections but they were all worth reading.

Canada, Richard Ford.
Wildlife, Richard Ford.
The Secret History, Donna Tartt.
The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux.
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Wells Tower.
The Paris Review: Interviews Vol 3, ed Philip Gourevitch.
The Brief & Frightening Reign of Phil, George Saunders.
The Women, TC Boyle.
Budding Prospects, TC Boyle.
Goodnight Nobody, Ethel Rohan.
Pastoralia, George Saunders.
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett.
This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz.
Drown, Junot Diaz.
The Tortilla Curtain, TC Boyle.
The Wild Places, Robert MacFarlane.
Wildwood, Roger Deakin.
Tenth of December, George Saunders.
Memory Wall, Anthony Doerr.
Holloway, Robert MacFarlane.
May We Be Forgiven, AM Homes.
Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, Roger Deakin.
The Colour of Memory, Geoff Dyer.
The Lighthouse, Alison Moore.

Making progress …

goingdownthehill Been up in the hills for long enough, time to escape to the warm flat in the middle of town for the winter. Spent most of the summer reading: two Junot Diaz collections, Drown and This Is How You Lose Her, both of which I loved; Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (ditto), dipped into Edna O’Brien’s The Love Object and Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories (part of a recent prize from Faber that included the Diaz); did some vicarious travelling 70s style with Paul Theroux in The Great Railway Bazaar; worshipped the work of George Saunders (though having read most of his work, I do prefer his latest collection, Tenth of December. I also started the first Donna Tartt (The Secret History) and hope to finish her second, The Little Friend before Christmas as santa has promised me The Goldfinch.

I’ve not written as much over the summer, or rather I have written but haven’t finished anything to a point where I’m happy with it. Part of this is to do with all the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve been taking notes, and after (also) reading two volumes of The Paris Review Interviews (vols 2 &3), I can see a way of working with the writing I’ve done to make some sense of it!

I started yesterday. Dragged out my files, folders and notebooks and started reading through in a dispassionate way, wrote my way around one story that’s  been occupying part of my head for a couple of years. This morning I still haven’t got a handle on what the story’s about but have identified some old drafts that should go IN THE BIN. So, making progress.