The Scribbler

the new writing blog for exciting contemporary writers

Posts Tagged ‘Fiction

Bret Easton Ellis talks American Psycho

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Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis

We at The Scribbler are very excited to learn that one of inspirations behind this project is going to be making an appearance in London this summer.

Celebrated contemporary writer Bret Easton Ellis is going to be talking about his acclaimed 1991 novel American Psycho as part of the Guardian Review book club.

The discussion with John Mullan is taking place on 14 July at King’s Place, London.

American Psycho is one of the best-loved modern classics of recent times. In 2000 it was made into a major motion picture starring Batman actor Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman.

A 27 year-old Wall Street employee, Bateman is the epitome of 90s decadence. Living in an upscale, chic Manhattan apartment, dining at the most exclusive restaurants and an expert in fashion and expensive consumer products. He is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath.

American Psycho is a brilliant, jet-black comedy wherein Bret Easton Ellis satirises the excesses of yuppy materialism and examines the dark side of the American Dream.

Tickets are £9.50 online and £11.50 from the box office. The event starts at 7.00pm. For more information visit the King’s Place website or call 020 7520 1490 to reserve your seat.

Watch the intro to American Psycho, the motion picture:

Discussion:
Who’s going to be going to the talk? Do you even rate Bret Easton Ellis? If so, why? If not, why not?

Words: Dean Samways

Pullman rewrites the story of Christ

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Philip Pullman

The greatest story ever told (as debated here) has been given a new leash of life by His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman.

In a new project, Pullman has written an alternative Bible passage re-imagining the fate of Jesus Christ, who, it is written, was killed by the Romans (or not).

Talking to The Daily Telegraph, a friend of the author said: “He has written what would have happened if Jesus had had a fair trial. He knows it will be controversial, but he has some serious points to make.”

Pullman will read his reworking or Christ’s fate at the Globe Theatre on Thursday 19 November as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of Reprieve, an organisation which campaigns for prisoner rights.

The author is not new to controversy with the church. An honorary associate of the National Secular Society, several of Pullman’s books have been criticised by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His Dark Materials, Pullman’s collection of fantasy novels which contain much discussed religious allegories, have been seen as a direct negation of Christian author, C S Lewis’, The Chronicles of Narnia, which have been criticised by Pullman.

He is also often lambasted for an interview in which he reportedly said: “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”

Despite all this confrontation the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has suggested His Dark Materials be taught as part of the religious education curriculum in schools.

The Reprieve event will be hosted by Jon Snow and will also feature John le Carré and Martha Lane Fox.

Watch a documentary on Philip Pullman below:

Discussion:
Do you think Pullman has gone too far in his atheist quest with this latest project? Do you feel we should question religion more in literature? What was the last faith themed piece of writing you read?

Words: Dean Samways

Ones to read in 2009

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Richard Milward author of Ten Storey Love Song, one of Waterstones New Voices of 2009

Richard Milward author of Ten Storey Love Song, one of Waterstones' New Voices of 2009

In true eagle-eyed Scribbler enthusiasm, we have sought out – with the help of Waterstones – the writers we all need to look out for and read this year.

The high street booksellers, Waterstone’s this week announced its New Voices for 2009, the books from emerging writers that the chain believes will go on to feature in and possibly win the literary awards of the year.

Incredibly half the choices came from independent publishers, including A Kind of Intimacy, a debut by prison librarian Jenn Ashworth which is being compared to Notes on a Scandal, and Ablutions by Patrick DeWitt.

Waterstone’s fiction category manager, Toby Bourne said: “There are a huge number of novels published every year and it is very difficult to say which will strike awards gold and which will not, but we had a fantastic hit rate last year.”

Included in 2008’s selection were Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger which went on to win the Man Booker, Sadie JonesThe Outcast, which was awarded the Costa First Novel Award, and other novels that made Richard & Judy’s Book Club (bleurgh!) and other awards shortlists.

“Even more so than last year, debut fiction dominates our list, with only the precociously talented Richard Milward two novels into his career,” said Waterstone’s fiction buyer, Janine Cook, who helped choose the list.”

Ten Torey Love Song by Richard Milward, only his second book, is a novel written in a single, 286-page paragraph by the 24-year-old.

Cook went onto to say: “The writers may be new, but they have huge talent and these books deserve to compete with those from more established writers for both the attention of readers and for the big prizes.

“This is an invaluable opportunity for these authors to reach the widest possible audience. The Outcast and The White Tiger have gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies between them since inclusion in New Voices 2008, so the rewards can be very high.”

Waterstones’ New Voices will be featured in Waterstones’ stores and online at Waterstones.com from 5 March.

The titles are:

Watch a Richard Millward talk about his New Voices of 2009 highlighted novel Ten Storey Love Song below:

Discussion:
So then, has anyone read any of these new offerings? Will anyone be looking into any of these books now they have received the titles of New Voices of 2009? It’s gotta be a good thing right?

Words: Dean Samways

Keep coming back to The Scribbler for interviews with the New Voices of 2009 in the coming weeks

Stephen King denounces Stephanie Meyer & other writers

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Stephen King, the self-confessed greatest writer in the world

Stephen King, the self-confessed greatest writer in the world

Mediocre horror writer Stephen King has made it clear that he is not a fan of Twilight. In a new interview the writer commented on the teen vamp serialist, Stephanie Meyer, by saying she “can’t write worth a darn”, apparently.

In an interview with USA Weekend while promoting his new book, Stephen King Goes to the Movies, the best-selling novelist said Meyer can’t hold a candle to J.K. Rowling.

King said: “The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Curbing his attack slightly King explained while he’s no fan of Meyer’s writing, he does appreciate her storytelling for her target audience.

“People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books.

“A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.”

King is renowned for not mincing his words about fellow authors. He even highlights some in his book, On Writing.

In the same interview, King also called bestseller Dean Koontz “sometimes … just awful” and James Patterson “a terrible writer” who is “very, very successful.”

Have a look at a classic clip from Stephen King’s The Shining below:

Discussion:
So, do you think Meyer’s vampire’s suck or is King being unfair? What novelist to you rate and who is overrated? Comment in the reply box below

Words: Dean Samways

“And the winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award is…”

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Winner Sebastian Barry

Winner Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry has won the Costa Book of the Year Award after narrowly losing out in October’s Man Booker prize. The Irish novelist was announced as the winner at a ceremony in London on Thursday 27 January.

The winning book, The Secret Scripture, has been described as a moving account of a woman’s stolen life and her efforts to reclaim the past.

The judges heralded the book as an “exquisitely written love story that takes you on an unforgettable journey – you won’t read a better book this year.”

Barry was the bookmaker’s favourite to take the £25,000 prize beating what many considered to be the most acclaimed shortlist in the prize’s history. Sebastian wasn’t the only winner first time bestselling novelist Sadie Jones and her book The Outcast won the first book award whilst 91 years old Diana Athill became the oldest short listed winner for her historical memoires Somewhere Before The End.

Following the judging, Matthew Parris, chair of the final judges, said: “Sebastian Barry has created one of the great narrative voices in contemporary fiction in The Secret Scripture. It is a book of great brilliance, powerfully and beautifully written.”

The winners in each category are as followed:

Each shortlisted winner will take home £5,000 whilst the Sebastian Barry took home £25,000.

Watch Sebastian Barry talk about contemporary Irish voices below:

Discussion:
Has anyone read The Secret Scripture? What is it about Irish writers that makes them stand apart from some of their English counterparts?

Words: Seamus Swords

Booker Prize and Costa Awards judging panels announced

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Aravind Adiga with his Man Booker Prize winning novel White Tiger

Aravind Adiga with his Man Booker Prize winning novel White Tiger

The organisers behind two of the biggest book awards have announced the judging panels for their 2009 awards. The Man Booker Prize and The Costa Book Awards are some of the most respected in the literary world and anyone asked to judge these awards must see it as a great honour.

The judging panel for The Man Booker prize has been announced with the powers that be opting for a more ‘serious’ line-up. Heading up the critics is Today Program (BBC Radio 4) presenter Jim Naughtie providing some serious journalist clout and is definitely a more suited judge than last year’s choice Michael Portillo.

The remaining seats on the judging panel will be filled by literary editor of The Sunday Telegraph Michael Prodger, the writer Lucasta Miller, who has written a critically acclaimed book on the Bronte’s. Every literature judging panel has to include the token celebrity personality and this year that great honour has fallen to Sue Perkins of Mel and Sue fame. Check out the full panel right here.

The Costa Book Award has announced its judging panel (already touched on by The Scribbler) leaning towards a more broadcasting friendly collective. The judges include world renowned reporter Michael Buerk and comedian/actor Alexander Armstrong. The panel is headed up by columnist and broadcaster Matthew Parris. To see the full line-up and biographies of the judges click here.

Watch last year’s Man Booker Prize winner Aravind Adiga talks about his award winning book White Tiger:

Discussion:
Are the personalities listed here qualified enough to decide which piece of writing should win over another? Who would you like to see on a book award judging panel?

Words: Seamus Swords

Popular figures on books they just couldn’t put down this year

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The Guardian website yesterday published a very interesting article about the favourite books of some of Britain’s top public figures and literature critics.

To celebrate the final month of the year the piece talks to journalists, politicians, broadcasters, military types and many more who, collectively, make a very diverse and colourful cross-section of society. The chosen novels also throw up some intriguing results.

We’ve selected the best celebrity top books for your reading pleasure. To see the entire list click here.

Richard Curtis with fellow bookworm Stephen Fry (BBC)

Richard Curtis with fellow bookworm Stephen Fry (BBC)

Richard Curtis – Film director

“Now that Kurt Vonnegut has smoked his last cigarette, John le Carré is my favourite living author. A Most Wanted Man (Hodder & Stoughton) is full of classic le Carré delights – the plots that sneak up on you, the wonderful, compromised Englishmen, the richness of the writing, strangely allied to the feeling that he is just recording documentary fact. When I first started reading le Carré, his middle-aged British men reminded me of my schoolmasters and my father’s friends – now they’ve turned into me.”

Alistair Darling – Chancellor of the Exchequer

“The book I’ve enjoyed most this year is Ian McEwan‘s On Chesil Beach (Vintage). It’s a thoroughly evocative novel from one of the best writers of his generation. Reading it was a great escape from the Treasury.”

General Sir Mike Jackson – Soldier

“The British armed forces are much in the news and it is important that we understand what is being asked of our military. Lieutenant General Sir Hew Pike, one of my oldest comrades-in-arms, knows as much about the human dimension of soldiering as anyone I know, and in From the Front Line (Pen and Sword) he has put together a wonderful description of this human dimension as seen through the letters and diaries of the soldiers of his family over four generations.”

Andrew Marr chews the fat with PM Gordon Brown

Andrew Marr chews the fat with PM Gordon Brown (BBC)

Andrew Marr – Political journalist

“No question – the non-fiction book of the year is Richard Holmes‘s Age of Wonder (HarperCollins), not only beautifully written, but also kicking open a new perspective on the Romantic age, as scientific and artistic thinking began to diverge. But please let me also mention The Legend of Colton H Bryant (Simon & Schuster) by Alexandra Fuller, which is brilliant, moving and almost a new form – factually true fiction. And for fiction, a newcomer, Andrew Nicholl’s The Good Mayor (Black &White), a story of love, dreaming and loss, magical realism from Scotland. You will not be disappointed.”

David Miliband – Foreign Secretary

Counselor (HarperCollins) by the late Ted Sorensen, Kennedy‘s long-term adviser and speechwriter, is a reminder of the best instinct of American liberalism. Self-deprecating (which is touching), and in awe of everything JFK (which is less so), it shows how small-town America (in this case Lincoln, Nebraska) can produce people more like Michael Palin than Sarah Palin. Equality, hard graft and the frontier combine to produce something special. Barack Obama inherits its optimism.”

Michael Palin – Actor

“The surprise of the year was a modest gem of a book by Raja Shehadeh, called Palestinian Walks (Profile). Ostensibly a celebration of a lifetime spent walking the hills around Ramallah, Shehadeh’s book is also an elegy for a lost land, and an inventory of a natural environment that has been slowly whittled away by an ever-expanding Israeli state. Shehadeh’s love of his homeland and his naturalist’s eye make for a poetic little book that has big things to say.”

Jeremy Paxman with one of his larger books, we hope (BBC)

Jeremy Paxman with one of his larger books, we hope (BBC)

Jeremy Paxman – Television presenter

“I’d not expected to like Sebastian Barry‘s The Secret Scripture (Faber), of which I imagine the talkSPORT synopsis might be ‘an old woman inside an Irish loony bin tells her life story’. In fact, I found it mesmerising. It is a simultaneous narrative, in which a doctor attempts to discover why an elderly woman was committed to a Sligo asylum, while she confides her life story to a secret memoir, in which she tells, in intimate and moving detail, how the tides of modern Irish history washed against her life. Climate, countryside and a malignant Catholic priest are all brilliantly rendered. Barry’s prose is brisk and vivid and at times terribly moving.”

John Prescott (blog) – Politician

What Does China Think? (Fourth Estate) by Mark Leonard is an excellent analysis of the current debate under way in China regarding its future development. An especially important read for all of us concerned about finding global solutions to global problems.”

Kirsty Wark – Television presenter

Kate Summerscale‘s non-fiction whodunnit The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (Bloomsbury) reads like a thriller. She researched a famous murder in 1860, of a three-year-old boy in a country house whose inhabitants were siblings, parents, a governess and servants. But what gave this book such an edge was the author’s meticulous detailing, down to the weather on the day of the murder. Toni Morrison‘s latest novel A Mercy (Chatto) goes back to the 1680s and the chaotic beginnings of slavery. In her vivid story centring on one young slave, Florens, Morrison reveals the tragedy of slavery and how it also involved Native Americans and even whites.”

Vivienne Westwood – Fashion designer

“In The Road (Picador) by Cormac McCarthy – actually published last year – a man and his son are ‘on the road’ in a world where nothing lives except for a few human beings. The two must keep going to find food and to avoid groups of cannibals. This is a story of love so total that it shines like a beacon on our human resources for good. Though harrowing, it’s great literature.”

Toni Morrison also gets a special mention from President-elect Barack Obama as he and John McCain talk about their favourite books in a CBS interview below:

Discussion:
Later on today we will be posting a topic whereby you will be able to discuss your favourite reads of 2008 so be sure to come back for that, but right now let’s have some fun. What famous people would you like to think read what books? For example, the editor would like to think George W. Bush’s favourite book was Where The Wild Things Are (an easy one we know). Post your suggestions below and let’s all have a giggle.

Words: Dean Samways