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Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Herring on the Nile

A few weeks ago (this post should have been written ages ago) I went down to Goldsboro Books to Len Tyler's book launch for his latest 'Herring' novel: The Herring on the Nile.

Just in case anyone had missed the geographical reference Len himself was wearing a very dashing red fez. In the photo he's sadly NOT wearing the fez, and neither is our editor, Will Atkins (right). But they both still look very dashing.

I think 'Nile' is the best herring book to date: funny and as elegantly constructed as a good gin and tonic drunk at sundown on a Nile paddle steamer. I had several laugh-aloud moments on the train journey back to Didcot. I think that says it all, really.

Goldsboro Books in its expanded premises was looking wonderful. Definitely a place to visit if you're looking for a really special literary present for a signed first-edition book lover.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The anxiety of influence

I first came across the term 'anxiety of influence' when I was at university, writing essays about how poets felt inhibited by the weight of literary tradition that came before them. How could you write anything after Milton or Shakespeare or Wordsworth? I read the Harold Bloom book and nodded in a vague, theoretical kind of way.

But now I get the point. I've been rereading Sarah Waters. In particular, The Night Watch. Why bother? When someone can write so beautifully, with such an ear for period detail, and such a voice for her characters, is there any point in anyone else trying to write?