7 March 2010 0 Comments

Literary reviews: If you can’t say something nice…

Kingsley Amis said that “a bad review may spoil your breakfast, but you shouldn’t allow it to spoil your lunch.” That’s because Kingsley, bless his vindictive old heart, was probably too busy spoiling someone else’s. Believe me, a bad review leaves a bad taste all day long. That’s not because of any insecurity about my […]

3 January 2010 0 Comments

Outrage: Raymond Chandler in the trash

The last decade has been one of outrage piled upon outrage, from 9/11 to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, on to Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the smart-ass bankers who thought they ruled the world they were in the process of destroying. On the first day of the new decade I was faced […]

10 August 2006 0 Comments

Dashiell Hammett and really real mysteries

Writers have it all wrong. They think they need to learn about other writers. I studied English literature at Oxford University and I read all I could find of the sort of literary criticism which makes a novel seem like a piece of East German economic analysis. Three years later, I hadn’t learned a thing, […]