How men and women think, and whether there is a difference, is one of the abiding puzzles of life. We all want to understand other people. Many of us want to understand the opposite sex.
How can we understand men, or women?
One of the wisest writers on relationships between the sexes was the 19th century British writer Anthony Trollope. My piece Trollope: 11 reasons to read him sets out his awesome qualities (links in bold italics are to other posts on this blog) – including the fact that much of what he wrote is still 100% current. More Trollope links are at the end of this post.
Trollope’s 1869 novel He Knew He Was Right examines relations between the sexes in detail. You can explore quotations from the book below on men (6), on women (9), on relationships (22), on literary criticism (1) and finally (as a reminder of Trollope’s wit and continued relevance) on “the railway sandwich”.
Nothing changes. Enjoy!
My Trollope Society edition of “He Knew He Was Right” has 823 pages
The reader may be quite certain that Colonel Osborne had no premeditated evil intention when he allowed himself to become the intimate friend of his old friend’s daughter. There was nothing fiendish in his nature. He was not a man who boasted of his conquests. He was not a ravening wolf going about seeking whom he might devour, (more…)
“You have 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention,” crime writer Mark Billingham says. Outside, the ocean rushes by, waves flecked with white horses. The wreck of the Titanic lies 150 miles south.
Not a bad place for a literary festival
My friends Phreddie and Rosalind put me onto the Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival at Sea. “Sebastian Faulks, Louis de Bernières, Victoria Hislop, P.J. O’Rourke – what can go wrong?” they said. I checked it out. The package included a flight to New York, three nights in a hotel, then seven nights on Cunard’s “Queen Mary 2” in the company of literary greats, plus a top team of (more…)
‘Are the James Bond novels any good?’ a friend asked me the other day.
‘They are anachronistic, homophobic and sexist,’ I replied. ‘But James Bond himself is a splendid creation and some of the novels tell a terrific yarn.’
The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Goldfinger” is almost parodic
Unfortunately, Goldfinger is my least favourite Bond book so far (I have read, this time round, Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever and From Russia with Love – reviews below). The narrative is short on drive and tension and the plot makes no sense. Why, for example, when (no spoilers here) Bond has driven villain Auric Goldfinger to a paroxysm of suspicion, (more…)
I wrote the following story as flash fiction at a writing course I attended recently at Loutro on Crete (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site). Unlike my recently-released collection, Seven Hotel Stories, it is not a comedy.
Taxi to London
I had my head down over my exam revision when the hospital called.
‘Is this Dave Ellingsworth?’ The girl’s voice was so calm I felt my adrenalin spike.
‘This is Dave.’
‘You are in a relationship with Joanne Jones, is that correct?’
‘JJ, yes, Joanne, I know her, yes.’
‘In a relationship? I can only speak to next of kin.’
I felt a sense of despair, and weightlessness. Was I in a relationship? JJ had said she thought we were. But I thought I had ended it last night.
‘Sure. In a relationship.’
‘She took some pills. She is out of danger now. She asked if you could come and see her.’ The woman on the phone sounded like she thought I should go. (more…)
I have finished reading from my book Seven Hotel Stories when a guy in the audience raises his hand.
‘How much of these stories is made up, and how much is real?’ he asks. ‘And in general, how do you use your real life to create fiction?’
This struck me as a great question. How much of fiction is the writer’s experience, and how much is made up? Suppose you work as a lawyer, or in an insurance office, and are not an astronaut, a detective, or an assassin? Can you still write about something thrilling?
Marilyn Monroe trained hard to become an actress
Here are five ways you can turn your experience into compelling fiction:
(i) anyone can write great stuff: don’t worry about who you are, or what you do. All you need is a paper and a pen, or a screen and a keyboard. The trick is to get started (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site);
(ii) do use what you know to help write your story: whatever you can do and however you live, you can draw on your life experience to create rich, multi-layered fiction. John Grisham started out repairing roads, then became a lawyer – he used his legal knowledge to write The Firm. Tom Clancy worked in insurance: his hero Jack Ryan is, like Clancy, of Irish Catholic stock; (more…)
Have you seen the classic 1949 British thriller The Third Man (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site)? If not, watch it immediately! Either way, consider the following nuggets I recently unearthed about possibly the best film of all time.
My review at the link above sets out 8 reasons The Third Man is movie magic. But did you know:
(i) The Third Man was nearly never made. In early discussions, producer David O Selznick said a film called “The Third Man” could never be a hit. You can find out more in Frederick Baker’s 2004 documentary Shadowing the Third Man;
(ii) the classic ending to the movie, which I shall not reveal here, was nearly changed. Graham Greene, who wrote the screenplay, initially planned for an upbeat final scene with Anna and Holly Martins forming a relationship. How this could have squared with the rest of the story, which leads inexorably to the magnificent ending as it was eventually released, I have no idea;