New Reading

A large pile of books has accumulated in my study – probably far too many to read in a year even at one a week (which I find impossible at present). Among these are a number of Stephen King and author I haven’t read much of yet but am going to need to.

Recent Reads. The aim is reading ever day. Not just papers, journals, etc but fiction.

After some persuasion I read Paula Hawkins Girl on a Train (Black Swan)a few weeks back. This is not one I’d have picked – even on a by one-get-one-free offer. And it did take a lot of perseverance to get past the first few pages. I’ve always said if it doesn’t grab my attention in the first couple of pages it’s a no go. Having said that, Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet, took me a couple of chapters before I was comfortable. In his case I stuck at it because of the author’s fame rather than the content. I suppose when you’re that successful you can afford to drag it out for a few more chapters and it’s still a book I need to finish, or re-read and finish. Paula Hawkins book did become a gripping read. I literally ate the last few chapters in my eagerness to get to the end.

Next on the list was Life After Life (Black Swan) by Kate Atkinson. This is an intriguing book and took some reading. No spoiler alert but it took me a while. In the end you’re gripped and hooked. It was a very clever premise and one has to admire authors who can dream up this sort of structure. Not one I’d read again, nor did I find it easy to explain the plot to anyone else but worth reading.

The third in line was Kate Mosse’s Taxidermist’s Daughter (Pan/Orion). Kate Mosse I like having read Sepulchre, Labyrinth and Winters Ghosts – the latter some months back. I’ve got used to her technique – now extremely popular it would seem – of alternate historical recounting. Every other chapter covers either what is happening to another key character as their two stories merge or what’s happened in the past. It no doubt has a name but I’ll stick with AHR. More soon.


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Rudolph Patrick Holzapfel 1938-2005

This week I’m celebrating the life and work of my friend and mentor Rudi Holzapfel.

Rudi died of cancer on 6 February 2005 and it seems the time has passed so quickly. He was a wonderful, caring and talented man. I first met him when we worked together in a bookshop – me because I was just starting my career, Rudi because he needed to work while preparing his PhD on the works of James Clarence Mangan.

I had never met anyone who said they were a poet – writer, artist, musician, yes – but never a poet. I came to know him very well both at work and outside when we were able to escape the draconian clutches of the people who ran the shop. I was fascinated by how and what he wrote and fortunate to witness his work first hand when he wrote a poem ‘The Employee’ based on my work in the store. I still have the original written on a sheet of brown wrapping paper we used to pack piles of books for the students. It was published in the The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (1970) and has even been set to music, though how and to what end escapes me.

I moved on to a new job and a new world and Rudi moved away, but not before he persuaded me that I could write and indeed that should write. He mentored me, critique my writing and pushed me to that goal. As I browse through the pile of memorabilia he gave me with the words: ‘Keep this safe. One day I might be famous’, and through my collection of his published works I’m saddened that such a great talent has gone for good. But he leaves behind a wealth of wonderful material. A list of books and audio readings by Rudi can be found at

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Book Fair Trailblazer Awards 2017

The London Book Fair has announced the winners of the second Trailblazer Awards celebrating young talent under the age of 30 in publishing who have demonstrated innovation, creativity, passion for the industry, ambition, and a desire to be the best at what they do.

The winners are:

  • Anna Russo, Sales Executive at Hodder Education
  • Caroline Tatam, Platform Marketing Executive at Cambridge University Press
  • Claire O’Neill, Business Affairs Manager at Audible
  • Željka Marošević, Co-Publisher at Daunt Books Publishing
  • Heather McDaid, Publisher at 404 INK / Scot Lit Fest

The five winners will each receive: VIP entry to The London Book Fair 2017; Membership to The Club at the Ivy pop-up at the Fair; Inclusion in the LBF International Excellence Awards.

The Trailblazer Awards were founded by The London Book Fair in 2015 and are supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch.


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