I Guess You Had to Be There

Your life might need to take place in order for you to write your poems, but your poems should never be merely a record of your life taking place.

A Jet-Propelled Armchair

If his friends are to be believed, Cyril Conolly was a monster of sloth and self-regard. And yet, what an endearing figure he cuts through their letters and memoirs.

The Freedom Writer

To mark their 80th anniversary, the advocacy group Liberty delved into their sizeable list of contacts and got hold of 79 of the world’s best writers, then aske... Read more

A Eulogy for Uli

'Of course the first thing anyone wants to tell you about Uli is that Uli had a hell of a sweet tooth. Well, sure — guilty as charged. The man liked his candy.'

The Recurring Nightmare of Wilhelm

'The remaining man, Wilhelm, was also uneasy, but his mind was troubled not by what lay inside the crate but by lingering thoughts of his own.'

New York Traffic

'The two car accidents happened so early in his life that neither brought forth feelings of mortality at the time. It made sense that he survived them. Why not?'

‘Get Your Ass to Mars’

'I slip into my uniform, crumpled on the floor where I left it a mere six hours ago. My limbs are wet with exhaustion, cold, and I am unappreciative of the red glow outside our window.'

Hating The Leopard

'There is no such thing as the indispensable book or author, and the world would be exactly the same if Kafka, Proust, Faulkner, Mann, Nabokov and Borges had never existed.'

False River

'When Greta rang with the news about Bertie dying, I said I was in the lobby of my hotel, but really I’d just walked into the reception area at Lake Lawn Cemetery.'

Unused Book Titles

In his notebooks, the ever-inventive Raymond Chandler kept a list of possible titles for books, all of which we think deserve to be written.

John Kennedy Toole’s Hot-Dog Carts

'Going to New Orleans after a fresh reading of A Confederacy of Dunces gives the city a different flavour. Every sign begins to read like a knowing wink.'