Awkward Conversations: Posh Party

A couple of weeks ago an old friend invited me to his housewarming party. He was renting, but the place was impressive: eight bedrooms and a pool, a new red sports car parked on the neat, sloping drive. He’d always been a bit of a show-off, but Phil’s also one of those decent guys who…

Bronze Snowflakes

I watch him slip a long, strong fingernail down the succulent crevice between two mandarin segments and pull them apart. It’s dark. I wait for him to place the orangey crescent into his mouth and imagine its sharp taste as he crushes it, chews the pith and swallows the remains when the liquid is gone….

Tony & Tarantula

Tony is sat working at his grey desk in the grey office he shares with thirty other accountants. At exactly four thirty, he will turn fifty. Tony’s wife, Joyce, is standing on the parquet floor of the kitchen in their semi-detached bungalow that very moment baking his favourite cake – the one topped with butterscotch…

Sex, Swearing, Violence and God: The Best Way To Ban A Book

From 2000 to 2009, nearly 5,100 challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom concerning the content of fiction books. Before we get to the fun bit, let’s have the fascinating bit. Here’s the breakdown of themes challenged: 1,577 were challenged due to “sexually explicit” material; 1,291 for “offensive language”; 989 owing to materials…

How To Make The Truth More Energetic, Scary or Heartbreaking

If you’re anything like me, you rave about the kinds of stories that take you somewhere special or make you feel something different. I like the fiction I read to tweak my internal settings and show me new things. Animal Farm made me feel anger and sadness, but taught me something important about life. American…