Christmas is upon us, and this year I’ve been given two memoirs as gifts: Instrumental by James Rhodes and M Train by Patti Smith.
It is late November in London. The sun rises at around 7.20am and sets around 4pm, giving those of us who live on the latitude 52.15 degrees North just over eight and a half hours of light each day.
‘My photographs show something which is abandoned yet somehow invisible.’ With these words, Rut Blees Luxemburg, a London-based artist working with photography, opened the eighth annual
We hear the sound as soon as we step out of the car. A high-pitched wail, forlorn but also urgent, threads through the forest.
‘What’s that?’ I ask Mamy, our guide.
‘That’s what everyone comes here to see,’ he replies.
The squalls come, one after the other, as if generated by a dark machine somewhere over the horizon. Here in this quarter of the Indian ocean the northern hemisphere summer months of June and July signal the ‘winter’ rains, or what passes for winter on these humid latitudes.
I am soon off to Iceland again, my second trip to the land of ice and fire. Iceland also happens to be ‘probably the world’s most bookish country,’ according to The Guardian.
Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Elizabeth Bishop, ‘Questions of Travel’
‘Always walk with a torch at night. There are snakes and scorpions around. Also leopard, hyena, even lion. One night last year we were sitting here having dinner and a male lion walked into the kitchen.’
‘Did he find anything to eat?’
Fiction is a restless form, in spite of a publishing industry which often just wants more of whatever sold well last year. Its innovation is located not only in the intellectual ambitions of its writers, but in history.
Of all animals, the lives of predators are perhaps the most difficult for us to imagine. I was reminded of this recently, when I interviewed the acclaimed writer Helen MacDonald for the UE