Reading rather than writing at the moment. I’ve both a novel and a novella to complete, but sometimes need to read because it’s inspirational to do so. It’s never a bad idea to remind yourself of the standards others have aspired to and subsequently set in their fiction. A couple of days ago I read Robert Aickman’s short story Ringing the Changes for the first time. I did so awed at how much atmosphere he manages to create and sustain over a mere 33 pages. E.F. Benson’s The Bus Conductor is next and then The Apple Tree, by Daphne de Maurier.
Novels as well as short stories are on my summer reading list and those aren’t paranormally themed. Last night I began Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. I was put off Greene by reading The Power and the Glory at much too early an age. It’s grim stuff for a 14 year-old, though I did enjoy The Human Factor and laughed out loud reading Our Man in Havana. I know the setting really well and think Brighton Rock gets off to a phenomenally vivid start. It’s a potent reminder of the power of words to paint pictures and evoke moods. Great fiction writers are magicians, really.
Today’s snapshot is me at university, pictured in Canterbury outside a branch of the Nat-West bank probably long demolished. I’m grinning because I’d just been inside and successfully cashed a cheque. This wasn’t a unique occurrence, but it was usually touch-and-go. I sent this picture to my son yesterday with a caption saying this is what students used to have to look like in my day. He’s studying Politics and Economics at Sussex and replied rather wistfully that he wishes it was still like that. I think he means that life was simpler and more straightforward, which it certainly was. I might recommend Brighton Rock to him when I’ve finished it, since he knows the setting too.