Psychologically, I anticipated it being very painful to get rid of so many books and setups that I’d found comfortable over the years, but not so. Many age-friendly comics and graphic novels went to my nephew, who’s a bit of a Marvel fan. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to interest my daughter in comics, but she’s a voracious reader of everything else she can lay her hands on, so who am I to complain? So, we’re down to two (admittedly quite big) bookcases jam-packed with the books that are left. Standing in front of the British Heart Foundation book chute at the tip, wondering whether to get rid of Howard Jackson’s ‘Analysing English Grammar’ from university was worth it. It went, as did so many other books we hadn’t looked at since university, or hadn’t read, or had read but would never read again. My unread Ernest Hemingway collection survived though. I will read them. Honest. Sorting through like this unearthed some gems that went straight to the top of the re-read pile, hence me revisiting Darryl Cunningham’s ‘Psychiatric Tales’ and ‘Science Tales’, and Tom Gauld’s ‘Goliath’ last week. Next up is reminding myself of the joys of Magnus Mills’ oeuvre.
Then there’s the Kindle. That’s where most new fiction and non-fiction is going, as much as I love the solidity of a real hardback (that said, yesterday I bought Sting’s ‘Broken Music’ at a second hand bookshop – once read, it either stays or something else goes: one in, one out), so it was that I came to download a book that came as a real surprise.
‘The Venice Project’ by Philip Gwynne Jones (available for Kindle and in paperback) is extraordinarily well written, Phil’s voice echoing through every line. I know this because (vested interest ahead) Phil’s a friend from many years back. I was in the sixth form; Phil was a couple of years older at university. We were both part of a group of friends that – ahem – played role playing games such as Call of Cthulhu and Runequest (not Dungeon and Dragons, we were above that – serious players, and damn, we wrote good stuff). It coincided with that time in life when drinking and girls become important as well so, living in a small Welsh seaside town, it all came together nicely. Our holidays driving around Scotland and Wales and sleeping in cars and tents are fond memories, bridging that gap into adulthood. Phil played guitar at my wedding as I attempted to sing ‘Sultans of Swing’ (long story), and the last time I saw him was at his wedding at a castle just outside Edinburgh. ‘The Venice Project’ picks up where looming redundancy sends Phil and his wife Caroline to Venice to live, having retrained as English teachers and taking a massive leap. We seem to have faced similar book dilemmas. I recommend this book not because Phil’s a friend but because it’s so well-written and so different from the other let’s-live-in-another-country-for-a-year-and-aren't foreigners-funny memoirs. It isn't like that at all. There are good reasons why Phil and Caroline chose Venice. Check out the sample on Amazon.
And so that brings us to writing. ‘Amnesia Agents’ crawls along. I’ll be posting up some other short fiction soon. In the meantime, forget you saw me.