The Joy of Books (1)

There’s something about book anticipation that gets to this particular bibliophile. When I was a kid I remember being intrigued by the packaging of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate bar with its fivefold image of one lad in various stages: Desperation, Pacification, Expectation, Acclamation and Realization. Maybe I won’t quite go through all five stages before acquiring the desired object — in my case, the book rather than a bar of chocolate — but that stage of expectation is one that I especially relish. Even the image of books (as in a watercolour of vintage paperbacks hanging on our wall) is enough to have me salivating.

Continue reading “The Joy of Books (1)”


CrickLit: neologism


CrickLit. Yes, you read right: ‘CrickLit’, not chick lit.

This is the name for the inaugural Crickhowell Literary Festival which takes place between the 3rd and 11th October 2015. Organised by the owners of the delightful little bookshop Book-ish (“a wonderful place to buy books, toys and gifts”) it’s fantastic to know that a small town of about two thousand folks can host a week-long celebration of all things literary.

Yes, I know that Hay-on-Wye — another Powys town of roughly the same size — already has an extremely successful literary festival which has being going since 1988. But Crickhowell’s initial foray into this field has already, even before it’s begun, had to be expanded from three days to a whole week! What is it about these liminal Welsh Marches towns that seems to favour literary fervour?

The speakers include quite a few well-known names, many with a Welsh connection: Owen Sheers, Emma Chapman, Jasper Fforde and Deborah Moggach. But don’t take my word for it — head over to the website and see the range that’s on offer. But hurry, tickets are apparently going fast …

A liminal world


Mark Haddon The Red House Vintage 2013 (2012)

A week in a holiday cottage away from the city; what could be more idyllic? Escape to the country, forget your woes, chill out, enjoy yourself.

Except it doesn’t always work out that way, does it? Because when you go you inevitably — if unconsciously — pack up your troubles in your luggage. And then you spend the week trying to ignore them, only to have them appear whenever you least expect it, or to be picked over by others you hoped would never see them. Hell is other people, Sartre declared. But true hell is people with destructive secrets. Hell is you.

Siblings Angela and Richard have been estranged for some time. A father they barely knew, a recently deceased mother who had dementia, then an opportunity for them and their respective families to come together on neutral ground, to become re-acquainted, to rebuild bridges. A liminal world: a holiday just before the 2010 UK general election and a change of government; a cottage on the borders of Wales and England; the world turning, ghosts emerging to haunt the living; a solitary fox appearing, and the Venerable Bede’s sparrow recalled: Continue reading “A liminal world”