"The reasons we write fiction are both simple and complex. Simple in that we are story-telling creatures who must shape our experience and share it with others; complex in that we are all individuals with different motives and desires." Derek Johns is an agent and a novelist too, so he straddles both camps in his article 'Why Write Novels?' in the current issue of the Society of Authors' Journal. Possibly from beneath the brim of that first hat, he concludes: "The European novel was a function of 19th-century middle-class leisure time, just as chamber music was a function of chambers. Will it be superseded? We will always tell ourselves stories, but will those stories necessarily take the form of novels? And is the novel necessarily the highest, most evolved form of story-telling, as we have tended to think?"
Answers on a blog, email, poetry podium, or postcard, please.
Writers-on-radio corner: If you thought Alan Partridge far-fetched, spare four minutes to squirm at this interview with writer Hardeep Singh Kohli recently on local radio. Unbelievable but genuine.
"A misty Autumn day, smelling of empty benches... what will become of those memories of water and swans?" This was Saturday's Finale of 'Palace Intrusions' at Wells, as Artmusic threaded and wove together sunset and singing, candles and cellos - and awesome parkour free-running. A very different musical interlude from Acoustic Plus in Frome on Friday, featuring the 'Mendip Rock' of Cary Grace who's also my multi-talented web-designer.
Monday was a dramatic night: "A Number" at Salisbury Playhouse only lasted an hour but crammed in everything anyone who’s ever been a parent, or a child, might have wondered or worried about. What is the value of a person, when we’ve got 30% the same genes as a lettuce… and does it even matter? Not being unique is hardly a death-penalty offence, is it? Carol Churchill’s play is rightly highly acclaimed, though the staccato faux-naturalistic interrupty dialogue is occasionally jarring, but the acting (Pip Donaghy & Fergus O'Donnell ) was stunning and the overall impact both moving and shocking.
And another dramatic impact that night was suffered by my car, deemed by the guy from the Crash Repair Centre about the worst damaged he's seen. Thank Daewoo for airbags - you only need them once but when you do, you do.
And now I'm off to Half Moon Bay in California to meet up with old friends in a new place - and to bring some southwest-UK stylee performance poetry to deepwest-USA. I'm billed to do a set in Caffe Lucca, Montara, which gets great reviews on Yelp. "Espresso pulled to perfection and foam that is wickedly thick and fluffy" says Jonathan C, giving 5 stars: "The patio overlooks the Pacific, but has a window to keep the chill of the coastal breeze at bay and minimizes the noise pollution on Cabrillo Highway." Fellow reviewer Elizabeth H - is that really her on the surfboard? xtreme! - says it's her new favourite place. Mine too and I haven't even been there yet... Can't wait.