Tag Archives: literature

Are we reading the same thing?

12 Jul

About a year ago, I saw a lot of references to John Updike’s novel Rabbit, Run, all extolling just how brilliant it was. Intrigued, I decided to pick up a copy and read it. Boy, was I disappointed.

As I ask above, I had to wonder if we were reading the same thing. The book did open with promise. The description of Rabbit insinuating himself into a children’s game of basketball was a perfect meditation on loss and the disappointment of adulthood for childhood achievers. Had it been a short story, I would have definitely recommended it. (Updike was a short story writer prior to writing the novel.) But, other than two or three brief flashes of something interesting, the rest of the book failed to live up to that promise.

Perhaps the worst thing about it was that the writing was passable. There are novels that are as badly written as they are plotted that are easy to throw aside and there are novels that are badly written, but which contain good ideas – these are the real disappointments as, often, you can’t finish them, but you really wish they’d live up to their potential. Then, there are novels like this where the writing itself is okay, but the story is dire. encouraging you to keep on reading in the hope it will pick up, only it never does.

Updike possessed the technical skills to write a good novel, but this wasn’t it. I really can’t see what other people love about it. I’m not saying they’re wrong – taste is subjective – but whatever it is escapes me. It may be that his other novels would be a better fit for me, but I won’t be trying them – I’ve got far too many books to read as it is, without adding more on a vain off-chance! I certainly wouldn’t recommend it, but there’s always a chance it will be to your taste.

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Positive Feedback

8 Jul

A wonderful review of my poetry booklet Our Story in the latest issue of Poetry Cornwall. It concludes “I can recommend this as something you can buy sight unseen to enjoy yourself or pass it on as a great present to anyone.”

I’d felt a real sense of trepidation in sending this volume out to be reviewed, so much time and effort having gone into getting it just right for publication. I’d had a positive response from proofreaders and the first recipients, but I had wondered how it would go down in the wider poetry world. It’s marvellous to have your work be so appreciated.

The booklet is available for £3 in the UK (payable to DJ Tyrer) and for £5/US$10/AUS$10/€10 (Europe and Rest of the World surface mail) or £6/US$12/AUS$12 (Rest of the World airmail) from Atlantean Publishing, 4 Pierrot Steps, 71 Kursaal Way, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2UY, UK. Queries regarding overseas payment should be sent to atlanteanpublishing@hotmail.com

Our Story is covered by our three-for-two booklet offer.