Archives for autobiography

#BookReview ‘Howards End is on the Landing’ by Susan Hill #amreading

I selected this book off my to-read shelf where it has sat for at least two years and, on reading the first paragraph, knew I must read on. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill is a gem of a memoir, a year in the life of a crime novelist who decides to read only the books on her bookshelves. But this is more than a review of books – it can be dipped in and out of, the chapters are conveniently short which makes you want to read ‘just another’ – because Hill attaches a personal story to each book, each author. I have always felt an affinity with Susan Hill; she was born eight miles from my own Yorkshire birthplace, and I was intrigued to learn about why she writes. I learned so much more; how her first novel was published when she was only eighteen, how she lives an ordinary life but mixes with some breath-stopping names. She met and/or knew TS Eliot, EM Forster, Cecil Day Lewis, Penelope Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Bowen; it is a mirror image of my reading list at university, except for the Bond. Above everything though, the book
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

I agree with… Matthew Thomas

Matthew Thomas: “It’s rooted in autobiography, that’s inescapable… But when I started, I had this anxiety about it and I tried to deny the autobiographical, for example, giving these characters professions that my parents didn’t have. But that really didn’t work. And strangely, when I loosened up and started putting actual autobiographical elements into the story, the more the characters took on a life of their own and became more fictional.” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, June 20, 2014] American author Matthew Thomas is talking here about writing his novel We Are Not Ourselves. It is a multi-layered family story which starts with Eileen Leary, the daughter of Irish immigrants, in mid -20th century New York. The location: where Thomas grew up. The occupations of Eileen and Ed, her husband: the same occupations as Thomas’ parents. Ed develops Alzheimer’s: so did Thomas’s father.  It is a character-driven story and one which in the beginning, though driven by his own life experiences, Thomas tried to separate from reality. It is an experience all authors are familiar with. I am asked regularly whether Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity is me, because we are both journalists. No, she is not, but
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Categories: On Writing.