Walking Wounded

One of my favourite books, even though I don't think all the stories in it work. I've just read it for the third time, and I'm still as taken with these observations of ordinary lives as I was when I first read it in 1990. Arguments, seductions, bravado, dreams, epiphanies and failures - they're all …

Sounder

Criticizing a classic is no fun. But I'm surprised this IS a classic. It's not the subject matter I didn't appreciate; it's the style. Apart from the dog Sounder, nobody in the book has a name. They're 'the father', ' the mother' or ' the boy'. Then there's the setting, which I'm guessing is somewhere …

Strange stories

Trying to understand Robert Aickman's 'strange' stories - the term he preferred over 'horror' or 'ghost' - is like to trying to pick up smoke with a fork. For me they work like dreams you can feel fading away as you wake up: you remember much of what happened, but none of it quite makes …

Stoner

This is a tough book to read. I don't mean the prose, which is elegant and lucid, but the subject matter. This is not a feel-good, we-all-triumph-in-the-end-and-the-band-comes-in-swinging tale. A farmer's son discovers his vocation, teaches English literature all his life at the same university, marries badly, struggles with office politics and personal problems, dies and …