Winter reads

Farmer at Fireside Reading by Vincent Van Gogh
Farmer at Fireside Reading by Vincent Van Gogh

Every year the Guardian does a seasonal series of literary suggestions for books to read during the long, winter nights. This year the theme is “Darkness In Literature”, and I contributed a piece on Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes:

The novel is drenched in darkness, every character a slice of night. Even the boys’ names reflect it: adventurous, reckless Jim Nightshade – a night-blooming flower, for sure – and bookish Will Halloway, almost Halloween in name. Then there’s Mr Dark, a moustache-twirling villain dressed in black, straight from the inky, monochrome illustrations of melodramas. READ THE FULL VERSION HERE

Here are some of the pieces I contributed for previous years:

2011: (Theme: Winter Reads) was on Patrick Hamilton’s The Midnight Bell:

The Midnight Bell offers succour to the people who pass through it, and provides the stage for their dramas. And while Hamilton’s trilogy might end with the gentle sound of a barmaid weeping, it also offers some kind of hope for the future, some sense that the “bottly glitter” of a winter pub is full of expectations and possibilities. READ THE FULL VERSION HERE

2010: (Theme: Season’s Readings, general Christmassy stories) was Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin:

Helprin’s portrait of a snow-bound New York from a 1900s that we just about recognise is peopled with Dickensian grotesques and fancies; gangs who battle in the streets, a race to build a bridge all the way to infinity, hidden communities surviving in corners of New York that never were, fantastical families in tumbledown houses at the centre of frozen lakes.


2009: (Theme: General Christmas reads) was on John Masefield’s A Box Of Delights:

Its Christmas setting in a snowbound corner of England (with particular resonances for this very festive season – all the grown-ups conspire to be snowed in elsewhere, leaving the children pretty much alone to enjoy their travails) and the dreamy, poetic language of author John Masefield come together to make it something of a seasonal classic that certainly bears repeat readings year after year. READ THE FULL VERSION HERE


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