June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
‘Cusp’ is a delicately rendered story about failure and resurrection. Two men, one young one old are set to work clearing scrub on a coastal track. The more experienced man is antagonistic towards the young man at first until he begins to recognise in him a dangerous pattern – alcoholism and the refusal to cope. While trying to make sense of the losses they’ve suffered and perhaps even caused they find solace in their talk and for the younger man perhaps even a way forward. All this from a young writer with enormous talent.’ Sally Breen
Dr. Sally Breen, one of the judges of the 2014 Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize, has written these lovely words about my story ‘The Cusp’ in her judge’s report. While it’s hard to think of myself as ‘a young writer with enormous talent’, I can’t deny that it’s nice (considering how much of a lonely pursuit writing can be) to receive the occasional bit of praise for the work you do.
June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
I thought our faces might flare up and disappear the night in mid-June when we climbed the narrow stepped streets of Bisbee, Arizona, shocked by love, sort of self-erased, after a beer and a sandwich in a dark bar filled with copper miners and their heartworm dogs. I didn’t know it was possible to feel a thing like this, and then to feel it together, our heads half blown away and our minds emptied out, lost to everything but love.
Recently I read Don DeLillo’s 800+ page magnum opus, Underworld, and was completely overwhelmed by the depth and range of DeLillo’s writing. From his trademark humour to his obsession with the big issues facing the modern world, Underworld has it all. Refreshingly, it also contains some beautifully intimate moments such as the one presented here.
May 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Early in his teens Luntz had fought Golden Gloves. Clumsy in the ring, he’d distinguished himself the wrong way — the only boy to get knocked out twice. He’d spent two years at it. His secret was that he’d never, before or since, felt so comfortable or so at home as when lying on his back and listening to the far-off music of the referee’s ten-count.
Denis Johnson has a way of describing his characters that is at once beautifully off-beat and original, and at the same time, incredibly memorable and effective. This description of Jimmy Luntz, the protagonist from his 2009 novel Nobody Move, is a perfect example.
February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
All his life Robert Grainier would remember vividly the burned valley at sundown, the most dreamlike business he’d ever witnessed waking—the brilliant pastels of the last light overhead, some clouds high and white, catching daylight from beyond the valley, others ribbed and gray and pink, the lowest of them rubbing the peaks of Bussard and Queen mountains; and beneath this wondrous sky the black valley, utterly still, the train moving through it making a great noise but unable to wake this dead world.
A short passage from Denis Johnson’s incredible novella about the life of Robert Grainier, a labourer living among the land in early twentieth century America. The prose in this book is among the finest I’ve ever read, and the dreamlike vignettes that Johnson uses to depict the minor victories and multiple struggles Grainier endures are intricately and beautifully constructed.
February 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
The opening passage from Raymond Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep. It’s a fast-moving, compact book full of guns, pretty dames and a smooth-talking private eye named Phillip Marlowe. An iconic example of noir fiction, it’s worth a read for the wisecracks alone.