Mr Monkey

Umberto Eco’s anti-library (by way of The Black Swan)

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

As February draws to a close, and this blog’s ‘to read’ pile of books is increasingly resembling babel, it’s worth taking some consolation – knowing that a too-high percentage of these books will remain, forever, merely glanced at – offered up by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his rightfully acclaimed The Black Swan: The writer Umberto […]

Palestinian walks – Raja Shehadeh

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Raja Shehadeh is a lawyer, a Palestinian activist who has legally contested land seizures. He is also one of the founders of Al Haq, a non-governmental organisation that works to protect human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. More importantly, for the purposes of this blog, he is a walker and a writer. These two […]

Many Happy Returns

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

4th Estate celebrate their 25th birthday this year, and to mark it have produced a very nice film which reminds you of many of the great books they’ve published This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo. Some favourites here include Michael Chabon’s novels, Robert Fisk’s huge book on the middle east, and […]

Crapland brings to mind

Friday, December 5th, 2008

‘You couldn’t make it up’, screams the tabloid tv presenter as he recounts the surreal situation of Santa Claus and his helper elves being threatened by angry families in a run-down amusement park in the cultural wilderness of Kent. Far more entertaining, though starting from a similar run-down amusement park premise, is George Saunders brilliant […]

The Cellist of Sarajevo

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

The Cellist of Sarajevo is Canadian novelist Steven Galloway’s third novel, but only the first to be published in the UK & Ireland. I picked up the novel enthusiastically (it’s beautifully put together, from the elegant cover through to the paging and paper-weight) but also with the slight apprehension that always accompanies a novel that […]

Italians want Zorba the Greek

Monday, October 27th, 2008

A popular arts show in Italy, Che tempo che fa, has appealed to viewers to write in to the show requesting books that, currently out-of-print, they’d like to see re-published by authors. Top of the list is Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. Another surprising  entry is Alan Hollinghurst’s recent Booker winning novel The Line […]

Chuck Palahniuk and The Great Gatsby

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Is Chuck Palahniuk one of America’s most underrated or overrated novelists? The answer to the question probably revolves around your attitude towards the shocking, because he is without doubt a novelist with the power to churn the stomach (although the reported faintings at readings of his short story ‘Guts’ seems exaggerated to me). Speaking to […]

Jim Crace retiring – The Guardian catches up

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Over at the Guardian book blog there’s a debate blowing after a post  dealing with Jim Crace’s plans to retire. The post has provoked all sorts of reactions regarding the merits of a writer’s age/youth, many largely missing the point made by Crace. Perhaps the most worrying thing, though, regarding the post is the implication […]

Setting free the books

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Some posts ago we took up the ‘who’ll be literature’s radiohead’ argument up, suggesting that there are already a number of established authors who have been giving away their work a la In Rainbows – for example the Wu Ming foundation or Mega-bestseller Neil Gaiman. Word comes through (via Lizzy’s Literary Life) of a new […]

David Foster Wallace

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Sad news was reported on Friday, that American writer David Foster Wallace has apparently comitted suicide, at the age of 46. TMO’s very own Shane Barry wrote two perceptive pieces on DFW back in January 2006 (link), approaching the American writer’s work with caution through his collection of stories Oblivion.  We reprint the second piece […]