Quote of the Decade

The World Tonight: Radio 4: 9th August
Brendan O’Neill – ‘Spiked’ magazine said, during a discussion about Twitter;



Only men, of course, fit the definition – ‘people’.

This foot-up-to-the-neck-innit, followed Caroline Criado Perez’ opinions on ‘equal pay’ and ‘women are more likely to be raped than men’.
Man says – ‘insults’.
Woman says – ‘threats’.
Man says – ‘small minority’, (referring to twitter-insults) but one cannot have a ‘small minority’ any more than a ‘first priority’.
Man also states – ‘Neither is there any misogyny in Britain’.


Writing Murder


                   The 2013 Winchester Writers’ Conference
                Announcing the winner to our writing competition:
        Hampshire Chronicle Short Story Competition; Murder in Mind

                                  Winner: Patricia Morgan

Murder in Mind, ‘Best of Three’ Adjudication:

This is a razon-sharp story . . . truly outstanding, and hence this year’s winner.The sharpness in the story reflects the nature of the subject matter, and is reminiscent of Martin Amis’ very slick writing about the criminal underworld. (think as well of Peter Greenaway’s, and, of course, Quentin Tarantino’s extrememly graphic rendering of similar situations in film). A gangster, Mr Red, kidnaps the executes his enemies depending on the answer they give to the question ‘what will happen to me when I’m dead?’ The situation is tense, the sentences are duly short, spiky, they don’t necaeesarily join up in obvious or predictable ways (there are even very short, one-sentence paragraphs as well). The similies are unusual: ‘All three men wore, if not black, then dark clothes, as if they were spawned in the night and had stayed there’. Like the prisoners in the story, we don’t know what’s going to happen next . . . which is thrilling for us . . .

Mr Red’s question ‘what will happen to me when I’m dead?’ determines the fate of the three prisoners.

The first prisoner gives an honest answer, ‘You will burn in hell.’ He is executed but the writing so enjoys telling the deatils that it is aesthetically thrilling . . .

The implication of the story is that writing is nothing less than a life and death matter. Thus its moral, at a ‘metafictional’ level of reference, reinforces the idea (which is as old as Greek tradgedy) that art is our trump card in the face of human suffering.

Patricia Morgan plays a mean game of cards with this splendid short story, ‘Best of Three’.

This is part of the appraisal by Professor Farnell, University of Winchester Arts Faculty, he adds, in an e mail to me; Each year in the short story competition there is always one entry that is clearly outstanding, and this makes my task as adjudicator all the easier. This year that outstanding entry was yours (ahead of previous winners of the competition).

Best-Of-2013-CoverIf you want to read what happens . . .

Winchester Writers’ Conference Best of 2013 is available for £8.95 in which ‘Best of Three’ takes pride of place at the beginning.


http://store.winchester.ac.uk/browse/product.asp compid=1&modid=1&catid=56

Splicing and Slicing


I am half way through Karin Slaughter’s latest book, ‘Criminal’. Well written? Yes. Plot, Fairisle knitting, in fact, I decided after a row of exhilarating chapters which threw me forward then back 30 years, I would separate the splices.

I am well aware of the method/tool/ devise of splicing and it can be exciting, BUT Slaughter has made it, for me, irritating.

I devour 1970 then hurtle to ‘present day’, wow, I have indigestion, not good at bed time. I will experiment by reading all 1970, then the rest of ‘present day’. She’s too clever by half.
     I ventured into a detailed and visceral description of a tortured, woman. Slaughter’s mind had been there, looking, recording. Too much for me. I stepped out.
    When the plot drags because author research takes centre stage, I read the first line of every paragraph until she’s finished. This has happened two days in a row.
     Yesterday I thought the book too long, I needed closure. And too plot-driven, even though the characters are strong. A successful writer well into her craft, can loose sight. Patricia Cornwell, a very successful crime writer, did. After ten cracking good stories with Kay Scarpetta, lots of character involvement for the reader, she became boring, tried to get herself out of the hole she knew she was in, but didn’t succeed.
     There is a big difference between ‘flashback’ and ‘splicing’. Lackberg makes enormous use of flashback bordering on splicing. ‘Criminal’ makes use of both. It is indeed a mouthful.
     But, like chocolate, it’s moreish, and gobble-inducing writing causes reader indigestion.
     I did a rough word count; 144.000.
     Shall I jump to the last chapter? Here goes. I shall find out whodunit and whether the three protagonists end up fitting together or not.