My book shelves are like a finely pruned tree, books are added and it can at times get unruly, some are given away, some stay. In 2013 I have seen several new beautiful blossoms appear and a few titles that have gone straight into the compost.
I started the year with Stephen King’s ON WRITING, given to me by a gifted local play writer, Paul Williams. An honest and candid insight into the craft of writing and the demons that nearly destroyed King’s talent, till creativity helped to decimate them and turn negative experience into the positive.
I enjoyed Stephen Spender’s THE TEMPLE, which reminded me of Goodbye Berlin. Alan Hollinghurst’s THE SWIMMING POOL LIBRARY was a fantastic exploration of human character, yet I felt the water started to become shallow towards the end of the story and my interest waned.
I read the WORLD FILM LOCATIONS: LIVERPOOL, purely from a narcissistic angle, as I had contributed three pieces on films shot in the Pool of Life, The Fruit Machine, In the Name of the Father and Dancin’ thru the Dark.
I spent four months of the year – April, May, June and July – working on my play PORN0VISION which was staged at the Lantern Liverpool. This meant I kept away from fiction and consumed solely SIGHT AND SOUND and the newspapers.
Stephen Leather’s NIGHTMARE reignited my taste for pulp horror in August.
THE MARRIED MAN by Edmund White introduced me to this writer and I developed a hunger for his work, taking in HOTEL DU DREAM, another work of fiction, then the factual GENET, a biography of the playwright and then THE FLANEUR, a wandering around Paris, which made me yearn to re-visit the City of Light and lose myself in its sophisticated decadence and Bohemianism.
KEEPING FAITH by Toni Piccoult raised some interesting questions about religion, yet didn’t offer any attempts of explanation, it failed to keep my faith.
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern simply a magical spectacular, a feast for the imagination.
As Autumn turned to Winter, my need for tales of terror developed, starting with THE HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS by Adam Nevill, tapping into my innate fear of puppets.
A tapas of terror was provided with Susan Hill’s DOLLY, THE MAN IN THE PICTURE and THE SMALL HAND.
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ Autobiography was titillation with a capital T, part National Enquirer, part poetic, an insight into the warts and all life of the American scribe.
ABSOLUTE BEGINNER Patsy Kensit’s self-penned offering on her life was four hours of my life I will not ever get back. But my passion for her disco hit I’M NOT SCARED, means all is forgiven.
In stark contrast, APRIL ASHLEY’S ODYSSEY was inspiring and captivating, even with all the name dropping.
Patti Smith’s JUST KIDS, about her life with Robert Mapplethorpe in NYC during the Seventies, is possibly THE best biography I have read………all glamour and damage, seduction in piss elegance!
Gave into the word of mouth hype and read John Williams’ STONER, a beautiful observation of the human soul, an Everyman tale that actually made me cry on the train at the end pages. Craven Arms on the Cardiff line will always be etched in my memory box now.
Now in beginnings of 2014, I have nearly finished P.L. Travers’ MARY POPPINS, surreal little tales from the Nursery, it has also provided me with a new mantra to get organised in the year ahead, ‘SPIT SPOT’.