Some News

1. I’m so sick of my yahoo email account being hacked that I’ve decided to shut it down. It’s been the email attached to this blog, so please note that if you want to contact me, the address is different now. I’ve altered the About page accordingly.


2. For several weeks now, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a non-fiction writing course. The upshot is that I’ve ended up thinking I might as well concoct my own. Most of the courses I’ve looked at focus on reading and commenting on appropriate books, and I figure that while writing is always hard, reading is sort of what I do. So I’ve made a list and a schedule and if anyone would like to join me in reading and thinking about any of these books, that would be lovely (descriptions below are not mine but come mostly from amazon). This is the schedule for posting:


Creative Non-Fiction Reading


21st April – Bluets by Maggie Nelson

‘A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists.’

Mid-May – Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer

‘It is more of a travelogue than the self-helplessness book suggested by its title. But the journey logged is less geographical than psychological – an edgy ramble through the mind of the author as world traveler. In these 11 short vignettes, Dyer recounts vividly the particulars of a decade of wanderlust. Instead of a sequential narrative, Dyer gives us, “an endless accretion – a kind of negative archeology – of material.”’

Mid-June – Ghosting: A Double Life by Jennie Erdal

‘Ghosting is a remarkable account of one woman’s life – or, to be more accurate, lives. For fifteen years, Jennie Erdal had a double existence: officially she worked as a personal editor for one particular man – Tiger – but in reality she was his ghostwriter and in some mysterious sense his alter ego. During this time she wrote a great deal that appeared under his name – from personal letters and business correspondence to newspaper columns, novels and full-length books. Ghosting moves from a vivid evocation of an austere upbringing in Fife to superbly rendered portraits of the people with whom Jennie Erdal worked at a London-based publishing house. This moving and beautifully written memoir is laced throughout with rich, quiet comedy and profound insights into what it means to be human and to live in language.’

Mid-July – The Mirador; Imagined Memories of Irène Némirovsky by her Daughter by Elisabeth Gille

‘When Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française was first published, the world discovered a new great writer. Even in France, however, Némirovsky had been more or less forgotten for years, until her youngest daughter Élisabeth Gille, only five years old when her mother died in Auschwitz, wrote a book to bring her back to life. In 1992 Gille published this fictionalized autobiography of the acclaimed novelist, who had led a sparkling life in Paris as one of the most successful and prolific European writers of the 1930s before being arrested as a Jew and led to her death in 1942.’

Mid-August – Thin Paths; Journeys In and Around an Italian Mountain Village by Julia Blackburn

‘Julia Blackburn and her husband moved to a little house in the mountains of northern Italy in 1999. She arrived as a stranger but a series of events brought her close to the old people of the village and they began to tell her their stories. Of how their village had been trapped in an archaic feudal system and owned by a local padrone who demanded his share of all they had, of the eruption of the Second World War, of the conflict between the fascists and the partisans, of death and fear and hunger of how they hid like like foxes in the mountains. ‘Write it down for us,’ they said, ‘because otherwise it will all be lost.’ Thin Paths is a celebration of the songlines of one place that could be many places and a celebration of the humour and determination of the human spirit.’

Mid-September – Man with a Blue Scarf by Martin Gayford

‘A beautifully produced paperback edition of the literary artbook hailed as one of the best and most continually fascinating books about painting in recent memory. Lucian Freud spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. Gayford describes the process chronologically, from the day he arrived for the first sitting through to his meeting with the couple who bought the finished painting. As Freud creates a portrait of Gayford, so the art critic produces his own portrait of the notoriously private artist, recounting their wide-ranging conversations and giving a rare insight into Freuds working practice.’

Mid-October – The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

The Wild Places is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath, to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Essex, and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places. Certain birds, animals, trees and objects – snow-hares, falcons, beeches, crows, suns, white stones – recur, and as it progresses this densely patterned book begins to bind tighter and tighter. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story, an exercise in visionary cartography, and a work of natural history, it is written in a style and a form as unusual as the places with which it is concerned. It also tells the story of a friendship, and of a loss. It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance.’


3. Finally, I was delighted to find that I’d been ‘freshly pressed’ by wordpress for the post I wrote on James Lasdun’s account of internet stalking: Give Me Everything You Have. The post was also featured as one of their Friday Faves, which is a sort of ‘best of’ freshly pressed for the week. This was really lovely recognition for an elderly blogger like me (7 years next month) when, as any blogger knows, you can often feel like you’re just posting away into ether, not sure whether anyone still likes what you do.

I was then brought firmly down to earth by finding out that Bloomsbury had had their annual bloggers’ tea party and I hadn’t been invited. I’m not sure whether, as an introvert who generally dislikes parties, I’m allowed to be miffed about this. Although I am a bit, as I have assiduously reviewed almost every book they’ve sent me. Honestly, I am so forgettable. So the motto of this week is definitely: you win some, you lose some!

50 thoughts on “Some News

  1. OMG congratulations on the FP. I think I assumed you already were and Bloomsbury Smoosbury who wants to go to a mad hatters’ tea party anyway. Your course sound most interesting.

    • Heh, you always make me laugh, Mrs C! Thank you for your kind words, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the creative non-fiction. I’ve been meaning to for ages, so it’s good to finally have a schedule.

  2. I don’t know what “freshly pressed” means but I suppose it is some sort of feature thing? Congratulations! Very very well-deserved, as you always write lovely and thoughtful posts.

  3. Look, Bloomsbury are the ones who were missing out, them and all those people they did invite who were denied the opportunity to meet you. Some you win and some THEY lose.

    I can’t commit to the whole of your reading schedule but might join you for some of them, if that’s all right.

    • I have to say it makes me feel better that they didn’t invite you either, because that’s, like, ridiculous. Editors really must not know their way around the UK blogworld!

  4. I’m working on a short piece on Maggie Nelson’s “Bluets” – its a wonderful book and I’m looking very much forward to hearing your thoughts on it!

  5. I’ve been thinking about doing a nonfiction distinction if I decide to go for my MFA. I’d always wanted to do fiction, and while I definitely still want to write fiction, I think nonfiction would be more of a challenge for me.

    • I think most writers have a sense of which comes more naturally. I am a much better non-fiction writer, although fiction is great because you don’t have to look as much up! Good luck with your course.

  6. You are so not unforgettable to me. Your voice is so refreshing, as is your honesty. In an often bleak world, this introvert who dislikes parties will have a tea party with you any day.

  7. Never been invited to a blogger’s party, never received any books to review, never check my stats, never even won a competition! Doesn’t bother me much though – I just love the book blogging community.

    • I would have minded a lot less if they hadn’t invited me last year! Still these things really are not important in the great overall scheme. But seriously, you NEVER check your stats? That’s restraint I could only dream of! 🙂

  8. See if you’d been invited to the bloomsbury party you’d have had to go and buy something new to wear. So think about all that money you saved that you can now put to better use (you can never have books can you?)

  9. Indeed win some loose some.
    Congratulations on the FP…
    I was surprised when I was featured last year. It was almost a shock because it meant so much “work” to answer the comments.
    Are the non-fiction writing courses on the Creative Nonfiction Site not good? I was thinking about taking one of them.
    I am planning a similar project this year and my piles are high but I will try and join you for a few titles.

    • Which Creative Nonfiction Site? There are loads of them. I’ve done online courses before and had very good and very bad experiences. It all depends on the course leader (inevitably). The course I’ll take if I do one is an MA in Creative Non-fiction and Biography at a nearby university, UEA, which has very good creative writing courses. But I’m still thinking about it. I really hope you’ll post your list of titles for your project as I’d love to know which books you have in your sights.

      • Sorry, I wasn’t clear. Lee Gutkind’s site Creative Nonfiction
        Some of the classes look promising.
        I’d like to take one in personal essay writing.
        I’m not going to publish a list but I can send you one by e-mail.
        I realized whenever I post a list I feel this urge to disregard it. It’s odd. Many of the titles will be very familiar to you as I’ve bought some after you mentioned them.
        I don’t think you need such an extensive course… Something short to get good feedback would be perfect.

  10. You new, exciting, fresh-faced blogger, you!
    I will quite possibly join in with you get to Nemirovsky, since I have the book and have been intending to read it…

  11. I’m with Harriet – clearly Bloomsbury has no taste. You are in no way forgettable – I love visiting your literary salon (and it’s so pretty, I made it my home page!) – even if I rarely comment.
    And congratulations on the ‘Freshly Pressed’ accolade!

  12. Oh no! When I saw your name wasn’t on the list of people confirmed for the Bloomsbury tea I assumed you simply weren’t able to make it – what a pity, and what an oversight on their part! With all due respect to them, it appears they have more individual publicists liaising with bloggers now rather than a single central contact as it used to be, and I think this means a greater likelihood of crossed wires or people/books/things being overlooked or missed. I was very sorry that you weren’t there as I had so hoped you would be.

    • Karen, you really are a darling, that makes me feel very much better. I was very sorry indeed not to get a chance to meet up with you, but hopefully next year, yes?

  13. Yay for the freshly pressed and boo to Bloomsbury for forgetting the invite. Tea with you is bound to be interesting (although I’d probably feel that I needed to read up beforehand just to have enough interesting things to say!) And “Bluets” sounds intriguing so I will join you there. Three weeks should be enough time for a terribly slow reader like me. Kudos to you for setting up your own course. 🙂

    • Pete, I’m so glad you’ll join in for Bluets! It’s a tiny little thing, barely 100 pages, so hopefully it won’t put too much pressure on you. And you wouldn’t have to read up to have tea with me – I’d just be interested to know more about you! No research required. 🙂

  14. Drat Bloomsbury–I am sure it is as Cornflower says–purely an oversight on their part–surely someone thought someone else had taken care of asking you (as you are most decidedly not forgettable!), however, very cool about being freshly pressed! I often read all the comments on posts but the Lasdun had so many I sort of skimmed! 🙂 And I think I might have to read along with you on a couple of the books on your list-I just recently checked out (but then returned as I didn’t have time for it then) the book about Irene Nemirovsky, and the McFarlane sounds appealing, too (and my library owns it as well–surely a sign I must read them later this year…).

    • I’d love for you to readalong, no pressure, just when it suits you and the book appeals! The freshly pressed thing was such a surprise and it was really nice for the day it lasted. Back to normal now! (and sort of a relief that I don’t have that many comments to reply to regularly…. I don’t know how other people do it). And bless you for being so kind about Bloomsbury. It’s the sort of thing I shouldn’t let bother me, and then I just had to admit to being bothered. But I like the oversight idea and will run with it! 🙂

  15. Wild Places is the best of MacFarlane’s books, I think, and had a big influence on me – it was after reading it that I decided that I really must get round to writing up my notes from Wales. I looked in his acknowledgements page to see who his agent was, contacted her, and the rest is history (although just my personal history, of course.) I like Geoff Dyer too – his books are wildly different from one another, and he seems to follow his personal obsessions rather than even remotely watching the market. Although I read a lot of literary fiction, as a writer I am drawn very much to narrative non-fiction – writing is my attempt to understand the world, and being able to recreate a world that fitted with what I wanted to say would somehow feel like cheating! Though it is perhaps true that the best fiction can reach for a deeper truth, I’m not sure I have that capacity. Maybe one day.

    • Neil, I loved Kathleen Jamie, who I read on your recommendation, so am delighted to know that you appreciate both The Wild Places and Geoff Dyer. I’d be very interested to read any fiction you wrote, though I’ll happily settle for non-fiction (and on that note, when is your book coming out?). I know just how you feel. I spent last year writing a novel and then suddenly ran out of steam with only 12,000 words to go. It all seemed a bit… frivolous somehow. Which says a lot more about my novel than fiction generally. I feel on much safer ground with non-fiction, however, much surer that I know what to do with it. It’s exactly the same urge as you have to understand the world.

  16. Heh, I don’t know what freshly pressed means either, for a minute I thought Mrs Tiggy-winkle had attacked you with an iron (but that’s what comes of living with someone who is obsessed with Beatrix Potter’s books but can’t read), but congratulations are definitely in order – well done!

    As for Bloomsbury, well, I’d feel miffed too. Pah to them! Even if it was a mistake!

    Your course looks fascinating. As someone who always means to read more non-fiction, I’ll be lurking about to see what you all have to say.

    • Helen, you always make me laugh so! Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her iron at the ready is a fearsome image… Happily, I didn’t have to face her (though it is true that more ironing could usefully be done around here). Please do lurk around the non-fiction books; I’ve loved reading your posts on fairy tales. And thank you for your kind comment – I send hugs!

  17. Okay, want to know how out of touch I am? What’s Bloomsbury? Seriously – I’ve heard the name somewhere, but wouldn’t know it if it bit me in the…well, we won’t go there. Anyhooo, I would love to read along with you in your course, if I can find the books here in our rinky-dinky little library system (although it might surprise me). Pass up an opportunity to learn from a gifted thinker such as yourself? No I.

    • Heh, Grad, you are too amusing! Bloomsbury are the publishers of Harry Potter, among others. Hopefully they won’t bite you anywhere. I would be so delighted to have you readalong with the non-fiction – no pressure, just whenever you can, and whenever the library can dig the books out of its system! Yay!

  18. I’ve just ordered Bluets, which I’ve wanted to read since Sigrun first wrote about it, and will read along with you if it reaches me in time (small press: delivery times seem to be weeks), and maybe some of the others, which all appeal to me -and I’ve already read and adored Thin Paths.

    • Oh that would be great! Hopefully Bluets will arrive soon – it’s nice and short. But just whenever you can join in is more than fine. You were the person who alerted me to Thin Paths and it looks fantastic. I can’t wait to read it.

  19. I was wondering about spam email from you that had popped into my inbox not long ago. I like your project. I might read the Macfarlane but October is so far away right now I can’t say for certain. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Gah that stupid spam. I’ve received the same sort of spam from Arti today, so they are clearly working their way around book bloggers at the moment (well, my suspicions are more towards facebook, in fact). I’d love for you to be able to join in with the Macfarlane, but autumn IS a long way away. We’ll see how you’re doing nearer the time!

  20. Very interested in your non-fiction list. I write both fiction and non fiction, but find it almost impossible on the same day. Not sure it’s very creative, my non-fiction, but something to think about. Very interested in the list of books and will hope to join in with the reading and comments.

    • Hello different Caroline! It would be wonderful if you could join in! I can perfectly imagine how difficult it would be to write fiction and non-fiction close by one another. Anything I’ve ever written with any sort of focus has always shifted just about anything else out of the way – shopping, cleaning, blogging, you name it. I will come and visit you and learn more about what you write – always a pleasure to meet someone grafting on the same cliff face. 🙂

  21. Oh, I love Bluets and would be *so* tempted to re-read it this month, except I loaned my copy to my boyfriend last month. The day I was bringing it to his place to loan it to him, I started reading it on the train, and nearly just kept it in my bag rather than telling him I’d brought it for him, but in the end the pleasure of sharing it won over the pleasure of rereading it rightthissecond. Ah well.

  22. No clue what’s the Bloomsbury tea party or what the WP feature is but it’s Bloomsbury’s loss and as they say, Omg! Congratulations! 🙂 You deserve all the accolades, you graceful writer, you!

    I’d love to do as many read-alongs as possible. I haven’t ever done any but would love to try! Will certainly look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  23. My copies of Bluet and Yoga for for people who cant be bothered to do it arrived this morning. I feel very excited to be starting on this new project – reading creative non-fiction. My only sadness was having to buy Bluet from Amazon because my local Indie Bookshop was unable to order it for me.
    Thanks for the intoriduction to these books. I’ll start reading just as soon as i finish my current reads.

    • Ooh so exciting to think of your books arriving! I’m really pleased that you can join in, and I’ll look forward to hearing what you think about those books.

  24. I just added a whole bunch of books to my TBR list thanks to you! I love your creative nonfiction project. I’m so excited to hear your thoughts on the two books I’ve read already — Bluets and the Dyer book. I thought both were fabulous, especially Bluets. Amazing!

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