Since January 2017, I’ve been posting most of my writing on Medium. During that time, I’ve been giving priority to fiction, particularly shorter forms. I’ve also posted a couple of pieces of what I’ve been loosely calling literary criticism, though maybe just “criticism” would be a more accurate term. Two of those have been among my most viewed (and read) posts on the site, and are still available here. The other two, both essays on poetry, are perhaps a bit heavy going for Medium and can be found on this site (see Criticism and book discussion below).
And here's a list of blogs and personal websites that I like and recommend.
Apart from fiction and criticism, I’ve written an accidental series on the subject of aphantasia, since recognizing in March or April 2018 that I have that condition. (I’m using “condition” in the a wide sense, as equivalent to “state”, and not to imply that aphantasia is a medical condition or impairment.) Up to January 2019, I published those posts on Medium, More recent posts are on this site. Here is the list of posts so far — I'll update it if and when I add more.
I've made a list of my own stories on Medium. It includes several short stories, a novella and a novel, all of which are free to read. As a bonus, here is the shortest story I've written so far, “Closure”. It comes in at about 750 words. I originally posted it on Medium but deleted it last year and now I've reposted it here.
Short stories on the web
A list of short stories that you can read online. I previously maintained the list as a Mix collection and a Pinterest board, but it should work just as well as a regular web page.
The books I left behind — and some I didn’t
Nine years ago, I left most of my books, as well as a substantial portion of my other possessions, in the attic of my sister’s house near Toulouse. I’ve just been back to sort out which of the books I want to keep.
Where to now for RSS?
It’s nice to be using RSS again but I still have some reservations about it. Here are my suggestions for incorporating its most essential features into HTML and the browser.
Even plainer text
A suggestion for writing a basically structured document in plain (i.e. UTF-8) text without reference to an external style sheet and with as little markup as possible.
The body in The Matrix
I watched The Matrix only once, and didn’t like it, to the extent that I didn’t bother to watch the sequels. A piece in Vox by Emily VanDerWerff about the film as an allegory of gender transition has made me realize why I’ve been refusing the red pill. It has to do with transcending the body’s limitations.
Reading poetry in scholarly editions
Scholarly editions of poetry provide some protection against anachronistic readings, misinterpretation and other errors. Unfortunately, that protection comes at a price.
A good masculinity is hard to find: Part 3 — gender as behaviour The old-fashioned notion of gender-as-behaviour has recently been overshadowed by the concept of gender identity. But there are still useful things to be said about the older idea. For one thing, having believed for more than 35 years that masculinity and femininity were “merely social constructs”, I’ve recently changed my opinion.
Writing “plain” text
For the past few years, I’ve been doing most of my writing as unformatted text, what some people still insist on describing as “plain”. Sounds like it might be time to dust off the old AlphaSmart, if it still works. But can it cope with UTF-8?
This section is for links to my writing about other writing — in particular fiction, poetry and (conceivably, eventually) drama. At the moment, I’m for the most part alternating between two projects. The first is to turn my doctoral thesis (“Andrew Marvell’s ambivalence about justice”) into something more widely accessible; the second to examine how some authors have been able to maintain interest in the same or connected characters over a series of crime fiction novels.
“Prelate of the grove”: A note on ambition and preferment in Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House”
The treatment of ambition and preferment in Andrew Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House” indicates the need to develop an acutely discriminating conscience.
“Oh my god, shut up”: Sally Rooney, short story writer
Before she was an acclaimed novelist, Sally Rooney was already a very impressive short story writer. Here, I discuss three of her stories which can be read on the web.
“What course and opinion he thinks the safest”: Religion and divine justice in the work of Andrew Marvell
A by-product of my thesis, which was about justice as a theme in Marvell’s works. That topic was suggested to me by a book about his treatment of divine justice but I found that Marvell’s writings about divine justice engaged with theodicy only incidentally.
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Restrained and understated it may be. but when you look closely Kazuo Ishiguro’s sixth novel is a horror story.
Robert Galbraith, Lethal White
Nearly 18 months ago, I wrote a post on Medium in which I argued that each of the first three Cormoran Strike novels explores a different trope or sub-genre of crime fiction. Now, at long last, I’ve added my thoughts on the fourth novel in Robert Galbraith’s series.
Liz Nugent, Skin Deep
I previously wrote a mini-review of Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait which you can find on the book reviews page. Here‘s a slightly more substantial discussion of her more recent novel.
Andrew Marvell’s Gender
This is an essay that I published in Essays in Criticism in 2016. As the title suggests, it looks at how gender informs Andrew Marvell’s writing. The version I’ve posted here is a HTML conversion of the approved draft. The final, definitive version is on the journal’s website. That’s the version that should be cited, of course.
Gillian Flynn's plotting in Dark Places: The deceptive attraction of overkill
My discussion of the plot of Gillian Flynn's second novel, Dark Places (2009).
Rereading Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum
Kate Atkinson’s first novel has a narrator who falls into three different types, each pulling in different directions. This results in a “teeming”, overstuffed tale whose profusion of detail tends to compensate for or distract from a glaring gap in the narrator’s memory. It’s a novel that requires to be reread.
Finite though unbounded: the abolition of infinity in the poetry of William Empson
A long essay (originally 5,000 words, but it seems to have stretched a bit over the years) about a theme in the early poetry of William Empson, which I wrote in 1996 and now think is worth resurrecting in a very slightly revised form.
The paradoxical ambition of Andrew Marvell’s Third Advice to a Painter
This is an argument (really a by-product of my thesis) about one of Marvell’s satires.
Who really killed The General’s Daughter?
A discussion of the resolution of the plot of Nelson DeMille’s 1992 novel The General’s Daughter.
Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike books
This post deals with tropes and subgenres in the first three Cormoran Strike books. For Lethal White, see above.
Most of the book reviews from Goodreads that I think are worth keeping have now been moved to this site.
I use Micro.blog mainly as an alternative to Twitter but from time to time I post longer pieces there. Here is a list of some of my longer posts which I don’t necessarily want to see buried in the timeline.