Thursday, January 03, 2008

There Are Doors (2)

Space alongside Fenchurch station ripe for renovation, with signage surviving from the 1930s, just before the station was rebuilt. It isn’t difficult to imagine passing through this door into a wooden-floored office where clerks with rolled shirtsleeves caught up by bands sit at desks writing in leather-bound ledgers, or pipe-smoking draughtsmen work at drafting tables, and in the deep cutting beyond the windows small black steam engines puff into the station alongside underground trains in the old maroon livery. Note the apt name of the estate agents dealing with the sale of this railside property: Brunel Estates.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

There Are Doors (1)

The doors to the post room of St Bartholomews Hospital, to the south of the southern edge of Smithfield Market, have not yet fallen to the vast work of renovation as the National Health Service institution is converted into a trust. Lacking a kickplate, and seemingly last painted somewhere between Lady Chatterley and the Beatles’ first LP, the doors show the wear and tear of a generation or two of laden couriers who’ve used their boots to kick them open.

Monday, December 31, 2007

It’s The End Of The Year As We Know It

I’ve just learned that two of my novels, The Secret of Life, and Whole Wide World, have been made available for download to those whizzy new kindle devices from I’d rather that they were also available as actual printed-on-dead-wood books, which are still holding their own against all comers, but there you go.

Apart from these electronic reissues, in this year Fairyland was given a new lease of life by Gollancz, I published two new novels, Players and Cowboy Angels, and delivered a third, The Quiet War. I had just two short stories published, but wrote four more; hopefully, these and two or three others should be published in 2008.

I seemed to read more non-fiction than fiction this year, but among the novels I especially enjoyed were The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon, Spook Country by William Gibson, Brasyl by Ian McDonald, The Land of the Headless by Adam Roberts, and Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe. Most of the stand-out non-fiction I read seems to be historical, including Buda’s Wagon - A Brief History of the Car Bomb by Mike Davis, In Search of the Blues by Marybeth Hamilton, Austerity Britain 1945-1951 by David Kynaston, The Lodger - Shakespeare on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl, and On Brick Lane by Rachel Lichtenstein. Schultz and Peanuts by David Michaelis is not only an exemplarary biography but also an acute dissection of the entanglement between art and the everyday life of the artist.

I spent most of 2007 in front of a computer screen; outside, the world has become a more precarious place than when 2006 rolled over. So be careful out there, and have the best 2008 you can.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gamma Minus

Over at the Carpetbagger blog, Steve Benan reports that President George Bush’s policy on stem cell research may have been shaped by a misreading of Huxley’s Brave New World (link via Jack Womack).
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