Posts Tagged Marlborough LitFest

Bits and Pieces plus a Bookish Competition

I’m writing this in a coffee shop (hence the picture!) and there are a few things to share with you this time (not counting my excitement about this, which happens in exactly a fortnight).Coffee Shop Writing

Firstly, I recently heard from a writing acquaintance of mine in South Africa, Arnie Witkin, who has featured on this blog before. Arnie self-published It’s not a Big Thing in Life a couple of years ago. It’s full of interesting life lessons and was written originally for his teenage grandchildren, but the project mushroomed. Initially sales were slow but Arnie contacted me to let me know that The Western Cape Education Department is now distributing his book to each of its 6,000 Life Orientation teachers in the province. Life Orientation is a compulsory subject in schools in South Africa. Which just goes to show that, in this writing life, you never know what is just around the corner. And the only way to find out is to put yourself out there and give things a try!

Secondly, I have a couple of books to recommend. In my book group we’ve just read A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. It’s the first Waugh that I’ve read and I was pleasantly surprised. It was written in the 1930s and is very easy to read. It contains both humour and darker moments. But the most interesting thing about it is the ending, which comes across as completely out of synch with the rest of the book. Further research indicates that Waugh took an earlier short story and simply appended it to form the ending of the novel (incidentally the short story is reputed to have given Stephen King the idea for his novel, Misery) but the serialisation of the novel has a completely different, tamer ending. I find writing endings extremely difficult – maybe I’m in good company and Waugh did too!
The second book is The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. It’s one of those books where you get lost in the story but learn something new too – such as the origin of ‘bumf’ – a handful of paper used as ‘bum fodder’ in WWI in the absence of toilet paper. Set in the early twentieth century it’s a fictionalised account of the publication of the first Oxford English Dictionary. Well worth a read.

Thirdly, the 2023 Marlborough Literature Festival Love Books Competition has just opened for entries. You have until Friday June 30th 2023 to submit up to 750 words about a book that you love and would recommend to others. The winner in each age group (includes adults) receives £300 and the runner-up in each age group will receive £100.

Finally, I have reached the heady heights of being interviewed by the lovely people at The Bookshelf Cafe!

And that’s it for now. Happy reading and writing!

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