Franklin’s Folly: A Winter’s Tale

Cultures and societies live by myths and legends — narratives that tell us who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going.  Think of America’s Wild West lore, its straight-shooting, take-charge cowboy persona that’s touched the psyche of millions. Other grand narratives speak of failure and calamity; they inspire us with their breathtaking idiocy.…

Flannery O’Connor’s Double-Header

Dear reader, what follows is a two-part review of two books, longer than my usual posts. The two sections are separated by asterisks, so you may want to save the second half for another reading. * The American author Flannery O’Connor wrote haunting, disturbing and technically brilliant work during her short, but productive life. She…

Farzana Doctor’s Six Metres of Pavement

There’s a certain type of novel that makes you wonder how hard it might have been for the author to say good-bye to her characters once she’s finished writing. In some books, characters stand up and without too many authorial nudges, form an alternate family in which both the writer and her readers find comfort.…

Paul Almond’s The Deserter

I love reading all sorts of books, but I usually draw the line on  stories that feature any of the stereotypes of North American history: naval combat, redcoats, settlers fighting Indians, roughneck sailors and lumberjacks — you get the picture. So you might imagine my consternation when I had a look at Paul Almond’s debut…