Michael Duffy profiles some great writers of the last few centuries in a series of interviews that never happened based on things the authors actually said!

▼ Recent Reviews
Search History by Amy Taylor

12 September 2023

This Other Eden by Paul Harding

13 September 2023

The Agathas by Kathleen Glascow and Liz Lawson

4 September 2023

Michel Duffy Interview Gertrude Stein

1 September 2023

Babel or The Necessity of Violence by R.F. Kuang

28 August 2023

The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

13 August 2023

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

8 August 2023

The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov

6 August 2023

Kyrgios: The Smash Hits - Nick vs The World by Sam Harvey, Paul Harvey with Chris McLeod

4 August 2023

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

2 August 2023

Michael Duffy Interviews Vladimir Nabokov

1 August 2023

Timer Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov

18 July 2023

Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang

4 July 2023

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L.Sayers

26 June 2023

Tall Stories by Michael Duffy

27 June 2023

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

21 June 2023

They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie

19 June 2023

Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs

30 May 2023

▼ Books Currently Being Read
The Fraud
The Fraud
Zadie Smith
Based on a real trial from the 19th century . . .
Reviewer: bikerbuddy

It is 1873. Mrs Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper - and cousin by marriage - of a once famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years. Mrs Touchet is a woman of many interests - literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.

Andrew Bogle meanwhile grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realise. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.

The 'Tichborne Trial' captivates Mrs Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task...

Reading Progress
74% Complete
Crime in Kensington by Christopher St.John Sprigg
Crime in Kensington
Christopher St.John Sprigg
From the Golden Age of Crime . . .
Reviewer: Toriaz

Newly arrived in London, journalist Charles Venables has been invited by his friend Viola to stay – at least temporarily – at a residential hotel in Kensington. But there is something amiss at the genteel Garden Hotel. The prices are far too low. The residents are jittery and upset. On arriving, Charles overhears a threatening discussion between the proprietors Mr & Mrs Budge that suggests they are blackmailing some tenants. When the bedridden Mrs Budge disappears into thin air, it is clear that more than one inhabitant of the hotel has something to hide.

Is it Egyptian medical student Eppiloki who believes Charles is working undercover? The elderly Miss Geranium who receives messages from the prophet Ezekial, the fanatical Reverend Septimus Blood, or the cat-loving Miss Mumby? Soon, a set of gruesome discoveries point to murder, and Charles must work with Detective Inspector Bray of Scotland Yard to prevent the killer from acting again.

Reading Progress
Finished Reading - Review Pending
▼ Special Reading Projects

The Booker Prize winner for 2022 is The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Jarunatilaka. Shehan Karunatilka is the second Sri Lankan author to win the Booker Prize. Michael Ondaatje was the first with The English Patient in 1992.

‘Any one of the six shortlisted books would have been a worthy winner. What the judges particularly admired and enjoyed in The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida was the ambition of its scope, and the hilarious audacity of its narrative techniques. This is a metaphysical thriller, an afterlife noir that dissolves the boundaries not just of different genres, but of life and death, body and spirit, east and west. It is an entirely serious philosophical romp that takes the reader to ’the world’s dark heart’ — the murderous horrors of civil war Sri Lanka. And once there, the reader also discovers the tenderness and beauty, the love and loyalty, and the pursuit of an ideal that justify every human life.’

- thebookerprizes.com

The 2022 Shortlist for the Booker Prize also included:

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov

The International Booker Prize winner for 2023 is Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov. It is the first book originally written in Bulgarian to win the International Booker Prize.

‘Our winner, Time Shelter, is a brilliant novel, full of irony and melancholy. It is a profound work that deals with a very contemporary question: What happens to us when our memories disappear? Georgi Gospodinov succeeds marvellously in dealing with both individual and collective destinies and it is this complex balance between the intimate and the universal that convinced and touched us.’

- thebookerprizes.com

The 2023 Shortlist for the International Booker Prize also included:

  • Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind from Spanish
  • Standing Heavy by GauZ', translated by Frank Wynne from French
  • The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox from French
  • Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim from Korean
  • Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches from Catalan

View the list of all Booker Prize Winners and those we have so far reviewed by clicking here.

In the long term, we hope to review all the Booker Prize winners.

42 of 67 Booker winners reviewed
The Iliad by Homer

Long regarded as one of the pinnacles of Western literature, The Iliad tells the story of the Trojan War in its final days, as Achilles, the supreme Grecian warrior, withdraws from the conflict over a disagreement with Agamemnon.

The ancient Greeks regarded this epic poem as a representation of real history, and in the 19th century the Homer enthusiast and amateur archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, excavated what is now believed to be the site of the ancient conflict.

For this special reading project I plan to eventually provide summaries of each of the twenty four books of The Iliad, notes on characters and the Greek Gods, a character map and a general discussion at the end.

Click here to visit the main page for this special reading project.

(Please Note: This is an ongoing project and not all pages are complete)

Book 8 of 24
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD. His reign oversaw a period of relative peace in the empire, and he was the last of what was considered five good emperors.

Marcus Aurelius was also a stoic whose notebooks, written for his own benefit, have become a key text to understand stoic philosophy.

For this special reading project I provide the complete text of Marcus Aurelius notebooks, known to modern readers as Meditations, taken from a public domain edition hosted on Project Gutenberg. I hope to provide historical context and notes about the text as I read.

Click here to visit the main page under construction for this special reading project.

(Please Note: This is a planned project which has not yet been commenced)

Not Yet Started
The Golden Age of Crime

The Golden Age of Detective Fiction was an era of classic murder mystery novels, predominantly from the 1920s and 1930s. Well known writers of the Golden Age include Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ronald Knox, Anthony Berkeley and G. K. Chesterton.

But these books have roots in earlier works of detective fiction, and there are still mysteries being written today that would fit in with the ‘feel’ of the Golden Age (Anthony Horowitz is an excellent example of a modern day writer of contemporary ‘Golden Age’ mysteries).

For this special reading project I am reading as widely as possible from this era, but especially books by authors suggested by Martin Edwards' study of the period, The Golden Age of Murder.

Click here to visit the main page for this special reading project.

This project has no fixed completion
▼ Special Reading Projects Complete
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo
Our second long-term Special Reading Project, now complete!

I read Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo as a long term reading project. The book is long, over 1000 pages of small print and 118 chapters. I decided as I read, since I would not always have time to read it consistently, that I would make a chapter by chapter summary.

The novel begins in the period just before Napoleon's escape from the island of Elba. Edmond Dantes is arrested and imprisoned after he is framed as a Napoleon conspirator. This is the story of his escape, how he finds his fortune and seeks revenge on those who betrayed him.

For those interested in reading the book, or simply curious to find out more, click on the cover of the book or click here. You will have access to the full summary I wrote, character notes on the major characters, a downloadable character map I produced, as well as a quick access to my review of the book and a link to the Gutenberg Project, where you can download the book for free.

The Federalist Papers
Our first long-term Special Reading Project

The Federalist Papers were written in 1787 to 1788 to defend the new American Constitution against its critics. They explained the Constitution and have provided future generations guidance as to how the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be interpreted.

The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and America's fourth president, James Madison, cover issues of America's independence, including the need to ensure against foreign influence, as well as how the new Federal Government would operate. The Federalist Papers also deal with the separation of the powers of each branch of government, as well as government oversight, which includes the power of Congress to impeach. For these reasons, The Federalist Papers are still important documents which have been referred to in debates about the presidency of Donald Trump.

You can now read summaries and commentaries of all 85 Federalist papers here on the Reading Project.

Bookish Quote of the Day

The pictures below represent places we have travelled or enjoy. In each picture there is someone who is reading. The photos represent the portability of books and the idea that they might be enjoyed almost anywhere. Click on the Google Earth Symbol to view where each photograph was taken.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel from Supertree Grove

The Supertree is part of a group in Marina Bay Sands Gardens, with the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, as backdrop

Harry Hartog Bookstore, Penrith

Harry Hartog Bookstore is the newest and largest bookstore in the Penrith region, west of Sydney

Singapore, Flower Dome

The Flower Dome is located in Singapore's Gardens by the Bay

Singapore Botanic Gardens Bandstand

The Bandstand in Singapore Botanic Gardens was erected in 1930 and is now often used for wedding photos.

Swan Lake, Singapore Botanical Gardens

Swan Lake is a small part of Singapore's Botanical Gardens, established in 1859 and honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Old Government House, Parramatta

Residence of ten early governors of New South Wales between 1800 and 1847

Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney

Centred in Hyde Park, this Art Deco fountain features scenes from Greek Mythology

Everglades, Leura, Blue Mountains, Australia

A former residence, art gallery, cafe and garden which hosts outdoor theatrical performances

Rookwood Cemetery

Rookwood Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere and was used in the 19th Century as a place of recreation

New Parliament House, Canberra

New Parliament House is built into Capital Hill and was opened in 1988 in time for the Bicentennial Celebrations

Other recommended websites on Neocities!

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