In praise of talented storytellers Forsyth, Follett

If you’re partial to thrillers but aren’t familiar with either man, find a copy of The Day of the Jackal or Eye of the Needle and enjoy a riveting read

In praise of talented storytellers Forsyth, FollettThis summer marks the 50th anniversary of Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal. It’d be hard to conceive of a more spectacular novelistic debut. Forsyth was a “flat broke,” unemployed English journalist in his early 30s. Hopefully, a novel would help clear his debts. While the book’s inspiration was the failed 1962 assassination attempt…

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothing

A profile of someone who has been in the public eye most of his life but achieved little of note isn’t a worthwhile subject

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothingPrince Harry is writing a book. Hmm. The crickets are pretty loud today.  All kidding aside, it’s true. “The Duke of Sussex is to publish an intimate memoir of his life,” the Daily Telegraph’s Victoria Ward wrote on July 19, “which he has vowed will be ‘accurate and wholly truthful.’” The book will be published by…

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant output

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant outputLarry McMurtry, who died recently aged 84, was an American writer and a prodigious worker. Beginning in 1961, he produced dozens of books, plus various screenplays for movies and television. Sometimes the screenplays were adaptations of his own literary output and sometimes they weren’t. McMurtry was born in rural Texas in 1936. And while it…

Good Seuss, bad Seuss, less Seuss, no Seuss?

Ignoring, desensitizing or eliminating history is the wrong approach. Learning, engaging and explaining will have a more positive effect

Good Seuss, bad Seuss, less Seuss, no Seuss?Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was one of the world’s most influential authors of children’s literature. The talented political cartoonist, illustrator and poet released over 60 memorable and beloved tales. Those tales included The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Green Eggs and…

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the bill

While not scrupulously accurate, it is still quite engrossing

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the billAn electrician in to do some wiring work a couple of months ago ran his eye over the media shelf, noticed the Vikings DVD set and announced that The Last Kingdom was better. So in the midst of a pandemic winter, we tracked down the extant four seasons and gave it a whirl. The series…

Atwood’s childhood works reveals early glimmers of creativity

Compilation of juvenilia hints at the famed author’s first influences – and a characteristic sense of humour, say U of A experts

Margaret Atwood was only seven when she got her first bitter taste of literary rejection. She wrote a play called The Giant, the Gost (sic) and the Moon and staged it with paper puppets and a cardboard set. It conveyed the weighty themes of lying, crime and punishment, “as befits a future novelist,” recalls the…

Father Brown is G.K. Chesterton’s most durable creation

He was an early and vocal critic of Nazism., an unapologetic opponent of eugenics and derisive towards the concept of racial purity

Father Brown is G.K. Chesterton’s most durable creationG.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936, just two weeks into his 63rd year. During his lifetime, he was one of England’s most notable writers. His output was truly prodigious, including novels, poems, short stories, newspaper columns and such. Today, it’s probably fair to say that he’s best remembered for…

The perpetual fascination with Robin Hood

The bawdy, brutal outlaw of the original ballads doesn’t fit with the noble figure of popular mid-20th-century presentations

The perpetual fascination with Robin HoodAs historical figures go, Robin Hood is a source of perpetual fascination. Mind you, I use the term “historical figure” very loosely because there’s no convincing evidence that he ever existed. Or at least not in anything resembling the legend we’re familiar with. While the earliest written stories date back to ballads printed in the…

Finding new value – and a great back story – in an old film

D-Day the Sixth of June was based on an award-winning novel by Canadian journalist Lionel Shapiro

Finding new value – and a great back story – in an old filmTurner Classic Movies marked the American Memorial Day weekend by showing a string of war films, one of which was D-Day the Sixth of June. Released in 1956 and based on a novel published the previous year, I’d seen it at the local cinema in Dublin, Ireland, more than 60 years ago. Back then, I’d…

In praise of trashy paperbacks

What could be bad about stories that are pacey, and replete with nefarious dealings, treachery, passion and lust? They're great fun and you won't nod off reading them

In praise of trashy paperbacksApart from childhood forays into the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, most of my fiction reading was done in the 1960s and 1970s. And the ubiquity of reasonably-priced paperback novels was a huge facilitator. A goodly portion of what I consumed can be described as respectable. Somerset Maugham, John O’Hara and…
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