Today is the birthday of Jan Morris. In my book, she ranks alongside John Updike, Lawrence Durrell and PG Wodehouse as one of the four finest 20th century writers in English. Continue reading “The wonderful Jan Morris, writer extraordinaire”
What was the internet like before Google? It’s time to look back because we just crossed a milestone. Continue reading “The internet before Google”
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments”, is the most popular poem for reading or reciting at weddings in Britain, said the Guardian in 2011. The Poetry Foundation website has a list of wedding poems chosen by its editors, a list that includes poems like Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways, John Donne’s The Good Morrow and Anne Bradstreet’s To My Dear and Loving Husband. My own favourites include more recent poems. Continue reading “A Vow and more wedding poems”
After a long time, I came across poems by Kamala Das and Nissim Ezekiel. I found Love, by Kamala Das, in Penguin’s Poems for Weddings, selected by Laura Barber, and Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher, by Nissim Ezekiel, in The Picador Book of Weddings, edited by Peter Forbes. The poems stirred old memories. Kamala Das was a sensation in her time. Here she is on her favourite theme. Continue reading “Kamala Das and Nissim Ezekiel”
Brexit shocked the world. But the writing had been on the wall. It had been foreseen nearly 50 years ago – by an English writer, naturally. Today is his birthday.
JB Priestley (September 13, 1894 – August 14, 1984 ) might have been forgotten by now had his play, An Inspector Calls, not been one of the prescribed texts for the English literature GCSE examination. Only a couple of his books can still be found in Singapore’s National Library Board catalogue. But he was one of the most popular writers and broadcasters of his time. Continue reading “JB Priestley: 50 years before Brexit”
Yesterday was the birthday of DH Lawrence (September 11, 1885 – March 2, 1930). So I read again one of his poems which I have liked ever since I came across it in my last days in high school. The poem is called Piano. Continue reading “DH Lawrence: Piano, and Sons and Lovers”
If You Want to Write is a book I love to go back to. I like the author, Brenda Ueland, because she genuinely encourages you to write. She doesn’t tell you how to write dialogue, construct a plot or create a character. First published in 1938, the book doesn’t go into technical details at all. Instead, you are encouraged to find your voice, be true to yourself, and write honestly and freely. Continue reading “If you want to write”
Is the American Century Over? That is the title is a slim, little monograph by the American political scientist Joseph Nye published in 2015. He agrees with Time magazine founder Henry Luce, who wrote a remarkable essay in 1941 during the Second World War that the 20th century was the American century.
No, the American century is not over, concludes Joseph Nye after looking at China and America and briefly at Europe, Russia, Japan, India and Brazil. Continue reading “Joseph Nye and the American century”
Has there ever been a more haunting crime writer than Raymond Chandler? I was about to say “stylish”, but that hardly describes a writer so romantic, with a voice so distinct, as Chandler. Born on July 23, 1888, he died on March 26, 1959, but he is readable as ever. He will still put a spell on you if you open any of his books and walk down the mean streets with his detective, Philip Marlowe. Continue reading “Going down mean streets with Philip Marlowe and Raymond Chandler”
Why is The Secret such a phenomenal bestseller? Written by the Australian Rhonda Byrne and published in 2006, the book about the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction is still No 1 in the New Thought category on Amazon.com. The New Thought movement originated in America in the 19th century and stresses the importance of positive thinking among other things. Continue reading “The secret of Rhonda Byrne”