Copy-editing: Is it a skill?

I wrote a blog recently in which I mentioned finding a copy of a Norman Douglas novel that had belonged to Roger Senhouse and was covered in Senhouse’s meticulous and minute pencil script. The extent of his annotations suggest he was a…

Dickensian

There’s a scene in the film Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams, cast as grieving widower and psychiatrist, finally breaks through to his difficult patient, the polymathic but troubled Will Hunting. It’s a long speech and well-known but…

Poetry: the democratic muse?

Literature is anything but democratic - Giles Gordon One of my favourite literary figures is the colourful Scottish poet and folksong eminence grise Hamish Henderson. I like him not only for his own poetry but his vital work in trying to…

Tsundoku

I know it’s a little bit flashy and ostentatious to use a foreign word like the one I’ve nabbed for the title of this blog, but sometimes there are no words in your own language to perfectly describe a condition, and tsundoku speaks volumes…

Matthew Stewart's 'The Knives of Villalejo'

The Knives of Villalejo Matthew Stewart Eyewear Publishing, 2017 £10.99   Last year I briefly corresponded with the American poet Donald Hall in the course of my research for a book on the Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith…

Spilling the beans on Hawthornden

  I’m sure writers will be taking to the internet in their droves to pen their reminiscences of fellowships at Hawthornden Castle, in Midlothian, Scotland, on hearing of the death on Friday of Drue Heinz, heiress of the Heinz (57…

Long Livre Tangier

We’re in Tangier primarily for Morocco’s National Film Festival, but this blog will focus on Tangier’s literary past instead. It’s Stef’s first time in Tangier, and my second – I was here with a friend a decade ago now, but my previous…

Northern Line

I am septentrional, a Novocastrian, a Northerner. I’ve never made much of a song and dance about it because I see scant virtue in banging the little tribal drum of where the stork happened to arbitrarily drop me all those years ago. That said,…

Walking the (On)Line

I think I’m becoming an irascible old man (and I’m only 31) because this blog is yet another kvetch-piece. I don’t mean ‘old’ in silly pop song jargon, where 25 year olds like Ed Sheeran sing about when they were ‘young’ and how…

The Second-hand English Bookshops of Berlin

Is it a sign of some sort of cultural imperiousness or jingoism on my part that I always hope, wherever I go, there might be a few old English language books to buy? Maybe it’s just my sunny optimism, or my insatiable bibliomania? There is…