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!

Read Michael Duffy's latest interview with Gustave Flaubert

▼ Recent Reviews
Michael Dufy Interviews Gustave Flaubert

1 March 2024

Windhall by Ava Barry

23 February 2024

The Red and the Black by Stendhal

16 February 2024

The Consolations of Philosophy byb Alain de Botton

6 February 2024

Stendhal and William Hazlitt

1 February 2024

The Corner that Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner

29 January 2024

Shroud of Darkness by E.R.C. Lorac

11 January 2024

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

17 January 2024

Child of God bby Cormac McCarthy

12 January 2024

The Lake District Murder by John Bude

2 January 2024

Question 7 by Richard Flanagan

7 January 2024

The Exchange by John Grisham

3 January 2024

The Firm by John Grisham

30 November 2023

Michael Duffy Interviews W.H. Auden

1 January 2024

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod

10 December 2023

Coming Up for Air by George Orwell

30 December 2023

Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

22 December 2023

Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

13 December 2023

▼ Books Currently Being Read
The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton
The Complete Father Brown Stories
A bumbling detective with a mind to rival Sherlock Holmes . . .
Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Set in the early-twentieth century, Father Brown's world is quintessentially English; crime scenes await in country houses, rural parish churches and quaint gardens as well as foggy London streets and shadowy railway stations. Father Brown may be a kindly cleric, but his bumbling nature disguises a detective mind to rival Sherlock Holmes.

Father Brown makes for an improbable super-sleuth. But his innocence is the secret of his success. Refusing the scientific method of detection, he adopts instead an approach of simple sympathy, interpreting each crime as a work of art, and each criminal as a man no worse than himself.

Reading Progress
19 of 54 Stories Read
Ward No. 6 and Other Stories
Ward No. 6 and Other Stories
Anton Chekhov
Tales of madness, alienation, and insight . . .
Reviewer: bikerbuddy

Ward No. 6 and Other Stories 1892-1895 collects stories which show Anton Chekhov beginning to confront complex, ambiguous and often extreme emotions in his short fiction. These stories from the middle period of Chekhov's career include - influenced by his own experiences as a doctor - 'Ward No. 6', a savage indictment of the medical profession set in a mental hospital; 'The Black Monk', portraying an academic who has strange hallucinations, explores ideas of genius and insanity; 'Murder', in which religious fervour leads to violence; while in 'The Student', Chekhov's favourite story, a young man recounts a tale from the gospels and undergoes a spiritual epiphany. In all the stories collected here, Chekhov's characters face madness, alienation and frustration before they experience brief, ephemeral moments of insight, often earned at great cost, where they confront the reality of their existence.

Reading Progress
12 of 23 Stories Read
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Remarkably Bright Creatures
Shelby Van Pelt
An exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope . . .
Reviewer: Toriaz

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night cleaner shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Ever since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat over thirty years ago keeping busy has helped her cope. One night she meets Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium who sees everything, but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors – until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late...

Reading Progress
100% Complete
The Crocodile's Kill by Chris McGillion
The Crocodile's Kill
Chris McGillion
East Timor Crime Series #1 . . .
Reviewer: bikerbuddy

FBI Agent Sara Carter is mourning the fact that her father was killed trying to stop the abduction of her half sister years before. It's the reason she became a police officer and the reason for her robust policing style. When that style becomes a problem for her resident agent in charge, she is forced to accept a secondment to Interpol in East Timor. There she is assigned to investigate the abduction of babies in the mountains along the country's southern border with Indonesia. Interpol has reason to believe an international racket is involved.

Reading Progress
41% Complete
▼ Special Reading Projects

The Booker Prize winner for 2023 is Prophet Song by Paul Lynch.

‘From that first knock at the door, Prophet Song forces us out of our complacency as we follow the terrifying plight of a woman seeking to protect her family in an Ireland descending into totalitarianism. We felt unsettled from the start, submerged in – and haunted by – the sustained claustrophobia of Lynch’s powerfully constructed world. He flinches from nothing, depicting the reality of state violence and displacement and offering no easy consolations.’

- thebookerprizes.com

The 2023 Shortlist for the Booker Prize also included:

  • The Bee Sting, Paul Murray (Irish)
  • Western Lane, Chetna Maroo (British/Indian)
  • This Other Eden, Paul Harding (American)
  • If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery (American)
  • Study for Obedience, Sarah Bernstein (Canadian)
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.

43 of 68 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 9 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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