The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov (translated Bryan Karetnyk). When is someone you killed dead? Mystery, guilt, love, philosophy, and death in a very Russian thriller. This review first appeared in Nudge Books (now NB). Continue reading
It’s natural for us to assume that the Great War was not just a formative experience, but the formative experience for anyone who fought in it. We also tend to assume that the experience was disillusioning at best, and psychologically ruinous at worst. The truth is, unsurprisingly, more subtle and varied. Continue reading
The Mirror of the Sea, Joseph Conrad’s book about people, ships and the sea, is full of good things, even if you’re only really interested in people. Here he discusses handling ships and dealing with people—this passage is what I used to think about when being trained in communication, assertiveness, management techniques and the like on work courses. Nothing in the HR-approved training material ever came close. Continue reading
Russell Brand doesn’t vote. Having been goaded about this by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in 2013, Brand wrote a book, Revolution, to show that he’s both right and in earnest. Many people are angered by others not voting, it’s a shibboleth of sorts, but Brand’s position seems reasonable to me; there are many causes for indignant scepticism in public life and much of it is a sham. I don’t share his seeming surprise, though, that wealth buys influence and that rich and powerful people generally want to protect and expand their wealth and power. You’d think someone on the threshold of middle-age (he’s 39) would have noticed a little earlier. This is what George Orwell published in 1941, when he was 38. Continue reading
Among the most graceful of birds, they have the ugliest faces; in the countenance of a seagull we observe all the bitter hatred and malignance which we usually associate with the faces of money-lenders or book censors.
Some of the best BBC dramas can be the most irritating. By the best I mean those they’re most pleased with, whose cushions they are forever plumping, whose production values are the most ambitious. Take, say, the increasingly indistinguishable Sherlock and Dr Who, for which the structure, pacing, editing, characterization, mannerisms, tics and assumptions have become hauntingly similar. Continue reading
Andy Hamilton is an author, broadcaster, foraging guide and accidental expert—he has an unusual dedication to following wherever his interests take him. Mostly this has been to the areas of alcohol and self-sufficiency, frequently in the overlap between the two. His published books include The Selfsufficient-ish Bible (2009, co-authored with his twin brother), Booze for Free (2011) and Brewing Britain (2013).
Andy contributes to various TV and radio shows on subjects ranging from survival and foraging through to home brewing and gardening. Highlights include telling BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo how to make the perfect elderflower champagne and nearly taking the Autumnwatch cast’s teeth out with his toffee apples. His most recent appearance was on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme (‘Wild Booze’). He regularly blogs about home brewing, beer, foraging and gardening on his website, while you can also follow him on Twitter.
Image reproduced with permission from Woodland Landscape II (36″ x 72″, woodcut, ed. 5), © Eve Stockton 2005.
This began with a wager—write a children’s novel in six weeks. I didn’t win, but then there’s this adult short story instead. It’s something of a curiosity, a period piece and a Great War not-coming-of-age tale. Continue reading