Fiction

Antiparos

'Athenians, in the main, are taut and deep brown and much taller than I imagined. From the shade in the cafe, I can get a good look at them down at the shore.'

Francis Plug Attends A John Banville Reading

'I too was drinking, having helped myself to a bottle of white from the complimentary drinks table. I’d placed this bottle on the Current Affairs shelving to the right of my seat.'

Excessive Innovation and the Anxiety of Influence

'Most people have an ear for the best new bits of language they come across – a better or richer or just smarter-sounding way of expressing ideas which are anyway always slightly beyond language’s grasp.'

Why the Yew Lives So Long

'Men did not learn that death breeds only death. Little by little, the reputation of the yew grew. Without wishing it, the yew became a symbol of resurrection and hope, and wisdom.'

Why Willows Weep

'Long ago, when the world was still quite young, the trees and plants ruled all living things. I say ‘ruled’ but there was no need then for rules; rather they were the caretakers of creation.'

Why the Chestnut Tree Has White Candles

'For a few weeks every spring, the chestnut blazes with white candles. Their flames are so bright you have to shade your eyes when you look at them. Then they gutter and die, and their blooms drip to the earth.'

Why Crab Apples are Sour

'Down in the ooze the pips took root. It was bitterly cold, just the other side of the wall of Eden. The saplings that struggled up were twisted and half-starved, and their fruit soured by sadness.'