Thursday, 15 October 2020

within the big story

I am a man of relatively simple (arguably unsophisticated) literary tastes. I very much enjoy a good tale, an escapist distraction. I read compulsively, anything I can get my hands on. In the absence of any other available distraction, I'd read the ingredients list on a cereal box if I had to.

As long as I had my reading glasses. These days my near sight isn't what it used to be, and seems to deteriorate annually.

So all my reading is done electronically. But then that does mean my book is always to hand in my pocket now, and should I finish a particular episode in an ongoing series in the dead of night, the following book is always immediately available at the touch of a finger to a screen.

It does sadden me as to what that must've done to the high street bookshop. And I am entirely complicit. But then that's just a small cameo of the greater peril of our times. And again, I am entirely complicit. Although I can say I've never actually bought a car, boat or guitar online.

I read an interesting interview with Bernard Cornwell on the Guardian's website this morning. He's one of my favourite modern authors. Very much looking forward to reading the final instalment of The Last Kingdom, and utterly delighted to read that he's revisiting Sharpe; the latter was, back when books were published on paper and virtuously purchased on weekend trips to town in high street bookshops, my gateway drug into the world of Cornwell.

He makes the observation that historical novels generally have a big story and a little story. Obviously a winning formulae, because that describes every book he's ever written and I've read and loved them all.

I often wish I'd had the time, focus and patience to write a book. I'd like to think I'd have the talent. And I guess without the commitment to actually do it, I can happily go on telling myself that without risk of disproving it.

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