Having written a novel, The Master, based on several years in the life of Henry James, Colm Tóibín has now written a book based on the life of Thomas Mann, the German writer. The Magician takes its title from the name Mann’s children gave him, for his love of doing magic tricks to amuse small children.  Being the Mann family, though, it wasn’t an altogether affectionate term; there was some element of denigration about it. Never was there a family with so much rivalry. Brother against brother, sister against brother, child against father. So the name The Magician, has elements of ‘You think you are a magician, above all the rest of us, but we know what you really are.’ Continue reading COLM TÓIBÍN -THE MAGICIAN

Jean-Phillipe Blondel – Exposed

Louis Claret is a high school teacher, coming to the end of his career. He is fifty-eight but seems to be embracing old age. His marriage is over, his daughters are embarked on their own lives, he lives alone, not reading much, just embracing nothingness. But when we meet him, he is at a gallery opening, an exhibition of the work of a former student. As he says,

I didn’t belong there. Continue reading Jean-Phillipe Blondel – Exposed

Gert Loveday – Writing is Easy

 The house party has always been a favourite setting for crime writers. Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L Sayers, all the cosy crime writers had murders at Christmas parties, bodies in the library, murders at Halloween. What most of these books had in common was that the participants were often related or at least known to each other. They needed to be to provide a motive for murder.  A modern take on this is the Yoga retreat, the detox weekend or the well-being retreat. But here of course, the participants are usually unknown to each other. Continue reading Gert Loveday – Writing is Easy

Bibliotherapy for Harry and Meghan

Gert shares Harry and Meghan’s concern that the Queen “has not taken full ownership” of the racism allegations they made in their interview. This has made it so hard for them to move on that they’ve had to give another interview about how hard it is for them to move on. If she doesn’t take full ownership of that, they’ll have to give another interview, and another and another. It could even turn into a series and a podcast and a TED talk and a self-help course and honorary doctorates and it will be all Betty’s fault. 

But of course Gert has just the book for H & M.

Continue reading Bibliotherapy for Harry and Meghan

China Mieville – The City and The City

Imagine a city that is two cities. Two cities on the same terrain. Two cities where the citizens of each are forbidden from looking into the other world. This means that the inhabitants are required and culturally conditioned to ignore the other city. They must act as if it is not visible, and must guard their eyes, deliberately unseeing any vestige of the other city. This is all policed by a powerful, but hidden organisation called Breach. These cities ‘grosstopically’ occupy the same physical space, but have different laws, economies and rules. Continue reading China Mieville – The City and The City