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Wednesday, 1 July 2015


I have read a lot of great books in the past few months but two stand out for particular reasons - or one reason they both share.  They are written by writers talking a lot about writing and the business of being a writer, as well as other things that affect them, interest them, annoy them and inspire them.

I recommend both books highly as they are especially useful and entertaining for writers trying to be better writers.  Don't miss them. Outstanding.

The first is a collection of non-fiction pieces by Sir Terry Pratchett, including speeches, newspaper articles, notes and observations, etc.

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction (Paperback)

Terry Pratchett in his own words. With a foreword by Neil Gaiman Terry Pratchett earned a place in the hearts of readers the world over with his bestselling Discworld series - but in recent years he became equally well-known as an outspoken campaigner for causes including Alzheimer's research and animal rights. A Slip of the Keyboard brings together the best of Pratchett's non fiction writing on his life, on his work, and on the weirdness of the world: from Granny Pratchett to Gandalf's love life; from banana daiquiris to books that inspired him; from getting started as a writer to the injustices that he fought to end. With his trademark humour, humanity and unforgettable way with words, this collection offers an insight behind the scenes of Discworld into a much loved and much missed figure - man and boy, bibliophile and computer geek, champion of hats, orang-utans and the right to a good death.
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9780552167727

The second is by Carlo Gebler, a collection comprising memoir, opinions on literature and the literary business, why he writes and how he must keep going to earn a crust.
Confessions of a Catastrophist (Paperback)

Catastrophist, a person who regards historical or political events as progressively disastrous; a pessimist.   - Oxford English Dictionary
Over a long career, Carlo 
Gébler has written an enormous variety of material including drama for the screen, stage and radio, long and short fiction, memoir, history and travel. He has not, however, written a cookery book though he realizes he might have to. If he does it will be called Burnt Dinners, of course.
When he started writing seriously in the late 1970s there was no internet and 
publishers liked to lunch. Three decades on the literary world has changed: most significantly, it seems no longer congenial or welcoming to literature or those who try to make literature.
As a catastrophist who never doubted from the moment he started that 
conditions in what he calls the Kingdom of Letters would only get worse, Carlo Gébler is not in the least surprised by how things have turned out. It was always going to go downhill (how could it not?) and in his Confessions he describes that process but in his own personal, idiosyncratic and caustic way.
The book is an intriguing mixture of pungent, fierce and striking memoir with 
pithy mordant notes on the literary trade, on the books he’s written and why he wrote them, and on the difficult business of negotiating a way through the thickets and trying to make a living.
It is not a sour book (hopefully): it is a funny book (hopefully), it is unquestionably 
a true book, true about literature and the innumerable humiliations peculiar to it.

Publisher: Lagan Press
ISBN : 9781908188372

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