Sunday, July 02, 2006

England's Glory

Sunday night. Post-England game. Feel like writing terse sentences a la James Elroy or David Peace. The typical England under adversity fight after the team were down to ten men is undeniably valiant, but makes you wonder why it always has to get to that point? Ah, football, mirror to a nation's soul. The links on the side of this page have expanded a little, so I'm going to try and rationalise - more categories so you know what you're looking for - but also I'm tempted to get rid of any that are not paying their way (e.g. are not being updated.) Susan Tranter dropped by the site to point me in the direction of Encompass Culture, and her blog on it. Its the British Council, which always seems to treat literature as being a bit more important than the Arts Council ever does. Perhaps because internationally at least, we're still the land of "Dickens and Shakespeare" (and probably Rowling, but I'll let that pass.) Though its annual new writing anthologies - number 14 is just out, just published by Granta - are an often uneasy mix of the new, the worthy and the popular. Perhaps necessarily so, though I've not found them essential for quite a few years, but a useful starting point, I guess, for a snapshot of contemporary writing. I think David Mitchell got his first break in one, a few years back, so they've something of a talent spotter role to play. The latest one contains eleven "novel extracts", a format that seems pointless to me, though we've all had cause to provide an extract for something or other over time. I usually cheat and call them short stories, which brings me neatly to my new, long-delayed task, of putting a few of my older stories online. I'm starting those that have had some kind of public life - either been published or otherwise disseminated. Our premature World Cup exit will at least let us get to the beach before the Germans and the Sunday Papers are full of their holiday reading, which always makes me imagine that there is a "holiday season" with everyone going off to the French Riviera for the summer, like they do in "Tender is the Night." Perhaps Robert McCrum does. Who knows? My time off work tends to be spent frantically catching up with my own, oft-neglected writing. Those for whom neither "New Writing 14" or the Richard and Judy booklist provide summer solace, might be thinking of a social disease to take on holiday rather than bring back from there, such as H.P. Tinker.

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