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Tag: fiction

A service station in Utah County

On the morning of 17th January 1977, Gary Gilmore was strapped to a chair in Utah State Prison, a black hood placed over his head, before being executed by firing squad. Such was the notoriety surrounding the event, and Gilmore’s troubled personality, that singer Johnny Cash reportedly sang to him over the phone the night before. The crimes – the killing…

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What do you write when there’s nothing there? When the well has dried up, and all you see before you is an arid desert, your poor, writer’s brain fried by the sun? Nothing, I suppose. But wait. Is it really possible to run out of things to say? It seems unlikely, given the tidal wave of inconsequential dross that passes through the right-hemisphere every…

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Saul Bellow made some interesting comments about the novel in an interview with The Paris Review. Literal truth versus artistic licence. ‘Literalism, factualism,’ he said. ‘will smother the imagination altogether.’ Do we, as writers, attempt to recreate the physical world down to the minutest detail, or do we accept the limitations of this approach and opt for a more free-flowing…

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Work in progress

Why do we put pen to paper, or index fingers to keypads, to record our thoughts for posterity? Seeing as the vast majority of writers will never experience publication in any wider context, why bother in the first place? These questions have no real answers. The fact is, people write because they are driven to, compelled by some primeval force to unburden themselves…

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Dentistry and the modern novel

William Faulkner said that a writer’s only responsibility is to his art. Mine, unfortunately, is to my dentist. Driven from my bed in the early hours of the morning by a cracked wisdom tooth (how appropriate), I’ve sought relief in the written word and the shot of morphine my manservant has kindly administered. Pain is, of course, no stranger to the…

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Publish and be damned?

All writers want to be in Waterstones shop window, now, today, this minute. One small obstacle stands between us and the realisation of a lifetime’s dream. Publishers. Today’s climate is not encouraging for the budding novelist, intent on seeing his work in print. Literary agents, those much maligned creatures who practise cunning evasion techniques to avoid dealing with the slush pile,…

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