( the facebook page - @MarkHaddonAuthor
is run by vintage books / doubleday
i don't have any input
and i don't see any of the comments...
predictably it has far more visitors )

  reading / watching

i started reading two books on holiday and failed to finished them, which isn’t unusual, except that they were two self-evidently good books (the testament of gideon mack by james robertson and wildwood by roger deakin, whose waterlog went some considerable way to changing my life). back home i picked up the methuen book of royal court plays 2000-2010 and i was gripped, partly because  of the quality of the writing and partly because i was learning something. 

being a writer i spend way way too much time thinking about myself, in spite of which it had never occurred to me that i never read purely for entertainment. i watch enjoyably crap tv and films for entertainment (see below), but when i read i want to learn something, something about the world or, better still, something i can carry over into my own writing. consequently reading something really good is sometimes a slow business, as i keep pausing to ponder and scribble.

all of which led to another revelation, that contemporary british theatre is so much more vital than the contemporary british novel. there are shit plays, of course. lots of them. but where are the novels which show you what it’s like to be black and british in the way that the plays of roy williams do? where is the novel as brutal and hilarious and prescient as simon stephens’ motortown? where are the novels are persistently experimental as those of martin crimp and caryl churchill? where are the novels which get anywhere near the sublime horror of sarah kane’s work? where are the novels dealing with the wars in iraq or afghanistan (the tricycle put on 13 at the same time – the great game).  where are the novels that pick you up and spit you out and make you think holy shit...

i know a novel is the quieter more conversational form. i know, most of the work i’m talking about is performed in subsidised, not-for-profit theatres (some of which will doubtless be culled in a couple of weeks’ time). i know, the audiences are smaller and more willing to be challenged, but, but, but…

oh well, maybe it’s just the time of the month.

(under a blue sky by david eldridge, fallout by roy williams, motortown by simon stephens, my child by mike Bartlett, enron by lucy prebble)

  the mill on the floss

to my shame i'd never actually read it before, despite my love of middlemarch. i don't think any other writer manages a tone which achieves this effortless balance of mockery, empathy, humour, seriousness, insight and sheer delight in language. and i really don't think it's worth writing fiction unless you make some small attempt to write prose with this density and this grace: 

Mrs. Glegg had both a front and a back parlor in her excellent house at St. Ogg's, so that she had two points of view from which she could observe the weakness of her fellow-beings, and reinforce her thankfulness for her own exceptional strength of mind. From her front window she could look down the Tofton Road, leading out of St. Ogg's, and note the growing tendency to "gadding about" in the wives of men not retired from business, together with a practice of wearing woven cotton stockings, which opened a dreary prospect for the coming generation; and from her back windows she could look down the pleasant garden and orchard which stretched to the river, and observe the folly of Mr. Glegg in spending his time among "them flowers and vegetables." For Mr. Glegg, having retired from active business as a wool-stapler for the purpose of enjoying himself through the rest of his life, had found this last occupation so much more severe than his business, that he had been driven into amateur hard labor as a dissipation, and habitually relaxed by doing the work of two ordinary gardeners. The economising of a gardener's wages might perhaps have induced Mrs. Glegg to wink at this folly, if it were possible for a healthy female mind even to simulate respect for a husband's hobby. But it is well known that this conjugal complacency belongs only to the weaker portion of the sex, who are scarcely alive to the responsibilities of a wife as a constituted check on her husband's pleasures, which are hardly ever of a rational or commendable kind.

  2 prints

stay tuned, 2010

super 16, 2010

  office chart 3



misfits / mill on the floss / firefly / the mawddach estuary

photo of mawddach estuary by benefit of hindsight under creative commons on flickr

  together pictures

we don't it so much now, but once upon a time, i.e. a year or so ago, when alfie and i were sitting in cafes and he'd finished his apple juice and millionaire's shortbread we'd sometimes do what we called together pictures where we both had to draw simultaneously from either side of the notebook.

only when i was reading through the eyes of a child in the latest edition of tate etc. did i realise that together paintings have a short and honourable tradition...


this one's by pablo picasso, his children paloma and claude and his wife francoise gilot.

this one's by michel basquiat and cora bischofberger

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