Book review – Down in Demerara by Mike Manson

Down In Demerara coverFelix Radstock isn’t an instantly likeable protagonist. Fumbling his way through the unfamiliarity of Guyana, the best way to describe him might be as a tropical fungus – he’ll grow on you, whether you want him to or not.

It’s 1999, and the world is anticipating an ‘end of days’ scenario courtesy of the Millennium Bug. Felix has been sent to Guyana, a South American country described as ‘culturally Caribbean’ by Wikipedia, to gather evidence on the country’s economy and, he assumes, make suggestions to improve it. He regards himself as a whizz-kid with data and numbers – seeing colours in the information that highlight patterns that could lead to solutions.

In truth, to start with, he seems a bit of a waste of space, floundering around missing his girlfriend Aurora. As he reminisces about his first meeting with his love, in Bristol Zoo’s butterfly house, she offers up the line: “You have to be still and let them get used to you.”

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An insight into Indie Publishing

Novel nights at The Square ClubI’m a big fan of independent presses. Often small but perfectly formed, they often have the courage to publish authors without a proven track record, and discover exceptional writing talent.

Richard Jones, Tangent BooksThis month, Bristol’s premier literary salon Novel Nights welcomes Richard Jones from Tangent Books, to offer an overview of the Indie Publishing world.

Topics Richard will touch on include

  • Current trends in publishing
  • Opportunities for authors
  • Empowering writers

Sounds promising, doesn’t it? I’m happy to say I’ll be co-hosting for the evening, along with Novel Nights founder Grace Palmer.

As always, the night will open with quality readings from local up and coming authors. It takes place on Wednesday 26th April 2017 from 8pm till 10pm at The Square Club, 15 Berkeley Square, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1HB.

Find full details and book your tickets.

Find out how to submit your writing for upcoming Novel Nights.

Book review My Mother Was An Upright Piano by Tania Hershman

My Mother Was An Upright Piano coverComprised of more than 50 ‘fictions’ covering no more than two pages in most cases, this is a collection of extraordinarily condensed riches. Each tales is like a tiny gasp inwards, comprised of such power you might find yourself reeling.

I found too many favourites among the pages to mention them all here, but what astonished me most was the variety of voices and personalities parading past, many comprised of little more than a deft character sketch – so skilfully drawn they lived and breathed on the page, and making us care in those few words how they’ll live, die, whether they’ll be happy. ‘Dangerous Shoes’ does this especially well.

There was also an extraordinary amount of emotional truth in these small tales, those moments of startling recognition where you think, yes, I know how is, or, more strikingly, so that’s what that feels like. Look out for the sweet tender sadness in ‘We Will Be There’, the uncannily familiar ‘Graveside’, and the poetry of ‘Like Owls’. Continue reading