Friday, 17 November 2017

Being Human in 2017

It’s time for being human.

The 2017 Being Human Festival has been launched with the Nottingham events kicking off at Broadway Cinema. Being Human aims to engage the public with the best of the innovative research taking place across the humanities. Many of the free events happening locally will appeal to those of a literary leaning as Nottingham's theme is "How to lose and find yourself in words".

The launch celebrated the art of short story writing and featured the BBC National Short Story Award winner Cynan Jones. Jones may have taken a six and a half hour train ride to be there but the other two guests were more familiar in these parts. Jon McGregor and Alison Moore, themselves fine exponents of the short story, were joined by Nottingham University professor of modern English literature James Moran, compère for the evening’s Q&A.

It was a well-attended, top quality offering at an excellent venue, all supported by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature whose Director Sandeep Mahal introduced the speakers.

Jones treated us to a reading from his winning tale ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ - which you can hear here - and talked about his use of suggestion and triggers. He’s an engaging, interesting speaker who likes the idea that if a novel is a bonfire then a short story is a firework, and he’s especially interested in what happens after the bang has died. He applies universalities but also asks questions of his readers.

Another writer that demands his readers put a shift in is Jon McGregor, who approaches short story writing in much the same way he writes his novels. The insight into his writing of BBC Radio 4’s The Reservoir Tapes however was most revealing. Rather than expecting commitment from a reader he wrote each line as though the listener has a finger hovering over the off button. You can hear The Reservoir Tapes via this link.

Another link for you is the Collected Stories of Lydia Davis which McGregor recommended.

Alison Moore added to the debate on what constitutes a Short Story, Novelette, Novella and a Novel? Moore’s novels are exactly that, not novellas, as they are often called, and for the record she likes novelette more than novella anyway. Moore spoke about her darker short stories and how the shorter form lends itself better to her horror.
McGregor’s distinction (between a short story and novel) was clear: a short story is read in one sitting, a novel usually isn’t. For Jones, the story dictates the length. He doesn't set out with any word limit in mind. 
If you want to attend a great devout in one-sitting event take a gander at these:

(Re)connecting with nature through the power of wild words
A Free Event at Attenborough Nature Centre, November 18, 10am–3pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Nottingham Wildlife Trust
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Dr Rob Lambert will host a day exploring our lost connection with nature (particularly in modern urban environments) due to our busy, fast-paced technological lives. Explore the value of ‘wild words’, writing and language in a wild setting. Through discussion, workshops and interactive sessions participants will unlock and share the power of language to reconnect minds and bodies with nature all around us. Connecting with nature is, after all, part of being human. Activities will be suitable for a wide range of ages.


Gallery Tour of the exhibition ‘Collected Words’
A Free Event at Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, on November 20, 11am-12pm
Join one of the curators for a guided tour of the Manuscripts and Special Collections’ City of Literature exhibition ‘Collected Words’. Hear some of the stories behind the unique archives, manuscripts and rare printed books on display. Learn why DH Lawrence’s Pansies had to be smuggled into the country, discover the writings of Margaret Cavendish of Welbeck Abbey, the world’s first female science-fiction author known as ‘Mad Madge’, and view a masterpiece of medieval poetry.


Migration stories – then and now
A Free Event at Nottingham Central Library on November 18, 1pm-3:45pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Nottingham Library Services
Explore and create stories about migrants to the East Midlands from over a thousand years ago. Men, women and children from Scandinavia settled across the region in the Viking Age (AD 750-1100). Once here, the new residents engaged and interacted with existing communities in farming and trade, while maintaining aspects of their own culture such as language, dress and religion. Today their traces can be seen in the place-names of the East Midlands, and in the objects they brought with them and used here that survive until today. Get creative! With the support of creative writers, participants will develop short stories, poems and plays which weave together the experiences of past and present migrants.


The rise, fall and revival of the modern bookshop
A Free Event at Five Leaves Bookshop, on November 21, 7pm-8pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Five Leaves Bookshop. 
A few years ago it appeared that bookshops were in a state of terminal decline. Between 2005 and 2011 nearly 2000 bookshops had closed in Britain, a sign that the days of physical bricks and mortar bookshops were coming to a close. However, in 2015 the American Booksellers’ Association announced a rise in the number of new independent bookshops, and boldly claimed that the word ‘endangered’ could be decoupled from the word ‘bookstores’.
This discussion, led by Professor Andrew Thacker, will explore how independent bookshops such as City Lights in San Francisco (publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl) and Shakespeare and Company in Paris (publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses) have been important institutions in the development of modern literature and culture. The discussion will consider what the modern bookshop can learn from looking at these earlier examples of book selling, and what the future prospects are for the independent bookshop.

Your first digital story
A Free Event at The Mac Suite, National Videogame Arcade, on November 22, 5pm-7pm, organised by University of Nottingham with National Videogame Arcade.
Ever thought about creating and publishing your own digital story? If so, this event, hosted by the National Videogame Arcade, is for you. Participants will take part in a two-hour ‘storyfest’ workshop led by Dr Spencer Jordan, in which you’ll be introduced to the Twine digital platform and taken through the basics of interactive, digital narrative building. You’ll create your own story and then be shown how you can publish it to the web.
No skills or knowledge of digital storytelling is necessary. Simply bring enthusiasm and lots of creativity.


Losing yourself in a book – the ‘Boots Booklovers Library’
A Free Event at Five Leaves Bookshop on November 22, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Five Leaves Bookshop.
Between 1899 and 1966 Boots the Chemist operated an extensive, national, circulating library, one which was renowned for service and the environment it created for subscribers. Come and find out why Jesse Boot went to the trouble of running such a popular service as a loss leader. This talk will remember the style and elegance of the libraries which were show pieces of contemporary interior design and most importantly the stories of the librarians who worked there.
Drawing on archive research and oral histories, hear how the libraries celebrated the reading year with a calendar of displays, subscription drives, holiday influxes and joining in with local events.
Discussion led by Dr Nickianne Moody of Liverpool John Moores University and Boots archivist Judith Wright.


Lost authors: Geoffrey Trease
A Free Event at Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, on November 24, 2pm-3:30pm, organised by University of Nottingham.
Nottingham-born Geoffrey Trease was a successful 20th-century writer of historical fiction for children. This workshop will re-exam the impact of Trease through two of his books, his very first book, Bows Against the Barons (1934) and Tales out of School (1949). Both are radical books in their very own way: Bows Against the Barons is an early depiction of Robin Hood as a radical anti-establishment leader in the shape of Wat Tyler, and Tales out of School challenges ideas about the role of fiction in the education of young readers.
This talk, which explores literature and its place in Nottingham’s local history and culture, will be led by Dr Gaby Neher.


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Book Booklovers’ Library

In David Lean’s 1945 film Brief Encounter, the character Laura is pictured in what looks like a public library; there’s a ‘holiday reads’ section, a smiling librarian, and a desk surrounded by shelves of books. Laura narrates:  “I changed my book at Boots. Miss Lewis had at last managed to get the new *Kate O’Brien for me. I believe she’d kept it hidden under the counter for two days.”


*Kate O’Brien explored gay themes in her writing and she spearheaded a challenge to the Irish Censorship Act.
From here Laura walks seamlessly into a chemist’s in a move that wouldn’t have surprised viewers at the time, many of whom would have recognised that she was in a branch of Boots. Brief Encounter is reflecting the opening scene in Noel Coward’s Still Life (the play on which the film is based) in which he states that an attractive woman ‘is reading a Boots library book at which she occasionally smiles.’


You might not be aware but between 1899 and 1966 Boots ran a circulating library: Books and Boots were known bedfellows. Within John Betjeman’s poem ‘In Westminster Abbey’ are the lines:
‘Think of what our Nation stands for,
Books from Boots' and country lanes,
Free speech, free passes, class distinction,
Democracy and proper drains.’


So how did a Nottingham enterprise became the largest library of its type in the world, lending 38 million books a year?
Let’s start at the beginning. Nottingham’s Sarah Boot of Woolpack Lane in the Lace Market was keen on natural remedies or ‘medical botany’. Her Methodist son, John, was drawn to these treatments as a means of providing affordable healthcare to the poor. To this end he opened a shop on Goose Gate in Hockley, uncatchily known as the British and American Botanic Establishment. Back in the mid-19th Century the shop provided homemade remedies and private consultations.
The store's is now home to The Larder restaurant and a branch of Oxfam

 John Boot’s own health suffered and he died in 1860 leaving a young family. His only son Jesse, aged 10 at the time, revived the business (with the help of his mother and friends) and Boots grew. Work-related stress now began taking its toll on Jesse’s health, so much so that he considered selling up. While on a forced holiday - his sister insisted he take a break - in Jersey, Jesse met Florence Rowe, the daughter of a book seller. She was 12 years his junior and the life and soul of any party. Opposites attracted and Jesse returned to Nottingham a year later with his Mrs Boot (today, a branch of Boots sits on the site of the Rowe family’s bookshop in St Helier’s).

Florence Boot, nee Rowe, she'd probably be known today as FloBo.  
Florence quickly became a key member of the business influencing its direction. Even when their children came along she took them to work with her, placing a cot in the corner of the office. It was Florence that came up with the idea of the stores having a book department and, later, libraries. Wanting to boost poor literacy levels amongst the working class she installing a revolving bookcase in the smaller Goose Gate store. Boots first proper library followed in the building/store on Pelham Street that’s now Zara. This shop was the first Boots that was more of a department store, or as they called them, a ‘Wonderstore’, with a café, hairdressers and gift department.
 
 
 

Unlike the many subscription libraries that were around at the time, Boots libraries, known as Booklovers’ Libraries, were well-stocked with fiction, even titles they’d rather not stock. In 1905 Jesse Boot acknowledged:  “Whilst we do not intend to dictate to our readers as to either the quality or the range of their reading…we afford for the perusal of all literature, including some books that, personally, we regret to see published…”

Harrods, WHSmith and The Times all had similar libraries but by the turn of the 1900s the Boots Booklovers’ Library was the largest of its type in the world. In the big stores the libraries were upstairs, with the stairs at the back, making readers pass through the merchandise. Rivals often had their libraries in basements. Boots libraries had views. They also had a much more organised distribution system uniquely offering an inter-store exchange of books.

Mercer Stretch was their first Head Librarian, a prestigious position which commanded the same salary as the Head Pharmacist and General Manager. F R Richardson, head librarian from 1911 to 1941, had previously selected books for Queen Victoria. Any work within the libraries was a desirable role. The ‘First Literary Course’ provided librarians with an understanding of the publishing trade and knowledge of bestsellers, on which they were tested. Whilst all the chief librarians were men, all the shop floor librarians were women. The juniors would be required to dust the books every morning, a task that taught where each title was placed. By the age of 21 the workers were often moved to other stores, sent ‘on relief’. It was said that working at a Boots library helped a woman’s social standing and marriage prospects. As the women had to leave work when they got married some were reluctant to wed, with reports of long engagements. As 70% of the libraries’ members were also women, they provided an important social hub and, unlike in many public libraries, talking was acceptable.

There were many marketing campaigns for the libraries.
Boots had three types of membership. Their most expensive subscription being ‘On-Demand’, entitling readers to borrow any volume in circulation which, by the 1930s, meant any book from any branch, delivered within 3 days of ordering. Snob-appeal existed with this more expensive membership. The Class A books were at eye level, with the Class B ones requiring bending or tip-toeing for perusal. There were special rates for book groups and educational societies, with schools taking advantage of the offers (and yes, they also stocked children’s books).

All members received a token and date of renewal. This could be attached to the borrowed book through a hole in the spine, the token then acting as a bookmark. Red labels were displayed on potentially offensive books which, once returned, were placed below the counter (as in Brief Encounter). All the other books wore green labels.

The libraries presence gave Boots a status that helped them gain trust for other services.  Many years later Amazon adopted the same strategy, knowing that an association with items as enriching and respected as books would help sell other products.

Inside the Pelham Street 'Wonderstore'
Once inside a Boots library there was no sense that you were inside a chemist’s. The architect Percy Richard Morley Horder, who specialised in English country houses (and was responsible for the Trent Building in the University of Nottingham), was hired to design the departments, and they were adorned with rugs, sofas, plants and flowers.

The libraries ran as loss leaders but managed to break even most years. At the height of their popularity a staggering 38 million books were exchanged in one year via hundreds of Boots stores. With overseas subscribers and foreign travellers taking books with them the famous green label was found all over the world. During the Second World War the number of subscribers increased to a million and books were being bought for the libraries at the rate of 1,250,000 a year. Boots had real buying power and some publishers pandered to them. If a new title was not chosen by Boots it would most likely suffer.

One publisher that turned the tables on Boots was Penguin who became, in part, responsible for the demise of the library departments. People liked to ‘own’ books and affordable Penguin paperbacks made this possible. And the publisher was canny enough not to make their books suitable for hardcovers. Libraries needed a way to make their books protected against the damage of rereading. TV was another nail in the coffin, as were improvements in public libraries with fiction much more accessible.

WHSmith’s libraries closed in 1961, The Times’ a year later. Boots held on a little longer, selling off 800,000 second hand books in one year and by 1965 the end was nigh. The book departments began moving into the libraries and in 1966 the Booklovers’ Libraries closed. Social lives suffered.

For 67 years, Boots libraries had brought books to the people, and it all began here in Nottingham.

There’s a book about the story of Boots Booklovers Library by Jackie Winter, entitled ‘Lipsticks and Library Books’.

You might prefer to discover more about the Boots Booklovers’ Libraries on November 22nd, 2017 as part of the national Being Human festival.

The free event: Losing yourself in a book – the ‘Boots Booklovers Library’ is at Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham.

There will be a discussion led by Dr Nickianne Moody of Liverpool John Moores University and Sophie Clapp Head Archivist at Boots, on November 22, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm. Light refreshments included

Please book your place via fiveleaves.bookshopevents@gmail.com

 

 

 
 
 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Being Human Festival


Now in its fourth year the Being Human Festival is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. It highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world. There are over 300 free activities taking place across the UK and you can view the full programme here.

Between November 17th and 25th Nottingham is playing its part in the festival with a series of talks and activities. Here is NottsLit’s pick of those events:

How to lose and find yourself in words. The launch
A Free Event at Broadway Cinema, November 17, 6pm-7:30pm, organised by the University of Nottingham in association with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.
Hear the inside story of the BBC National Short Story Award with the 2017 judge and author Jon McGregor, winner of this year’s National Short Story Prize, Welsh novelist and TV scriptwriter, Cynan Jones, and special guests. Cynan was presented with the £15,000 prize for his story ‘The Edge of the Shoal’. The panel, chaired by Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, will explore how to lose and find yourself in words – the special power in short stories to capture the imagination of the reader.


(Re)connecting with nature through the power of wild words
A Free Event at Attenborough Nature Centre, November 18, 10am–3pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Nottingham Wildlife Trust
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Dr Rob Lambert will host a day exploring our lost connection with nature (particularly in modern urban environments) due to our busy, fast-paced technological lives. Explore the value of ‘wild words’, writing and language in a wild setting. Through discussion, workshops and interactive sessions participants will unlock and share the power of language to reconnect minds and bodies with nature all around us. Connecting with nature is, after all, part of being human. Activities will be suitable for a wide range of ages.


Gallery Tour of the exhibition ‘Collected Words’
A Free Event at Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, on November 20, 11am-12pm
Join one of the curators for a guided tour of the Manuscripts and Special Collections’ City of Literature exhibition ‘Collected Words’. Hear some of the stories behind the unique archives, manuscripts and rare printed books on display. Learn why DH Lawrence’s Pansies had to be smuggled into the country, discover the writings of Margaret Cavendish of Welbeck Abbey, the world’s first female science-fiction author known as ‘Mad Madge’, and view a masterpiece of medieval poetry.


Migration stories – then and now
A Free Event at Nottingham Central Library on November 18, 1pm-3:45pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Nottingham Library Services
Explore and create stories about migrants to the East Midlands from over a thousand years ago. Men, women and children from Scandinavia settled across the region in the Viking Age (AD 750-1100). Once here, the new residents engaged and interacted with existing communities in farming and trade, while maintaining aspects of their own culture such as language, dress and religion. Today their traces can be seen in the place-names of the East Midlands, and in the objects they brought with them and used here that survive until today. Get creative! With the support of creative writers, participants will develop short stories, poems and plays which weave together the experiences of past and present migrants.


The rise, fall and revival of the modern bookshop
A Free Event at Five Leaves Bookshop, on November 21, 7pm-8pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Five Leaves Bookshop. 
A few years ago it appeared that bookshops were in a state of terminal decline. Between 2005 and 2011 nearly 2000 bookshops had closed in Britain, a sign that the days of physical bricks and mortar bookshops were coming to a close. However, in 2015 the American Booksellers’ Association announced a rise in the number of new independent bookshops, and boldly claimed that the word ‘endangered’ could be decoupled from the word ‘bookstores’.
This discussion, led by Professor Andrew Thacker, will explore how independent bookshops such as City Lights in San Francisco (publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl) and Shakespeare and Company in Paris (publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses) have been important institutions in the development of modern literature and culture. The discussion will consider what the modern bookshop can learn from looking at these earlier examples of book selling, and what the future prospects are for the independent bookshop.

Your first digital story
A Free Event at The Mac Suite, National Videogame Arcade, on November 22, 5pm-7pm, organised by University of Nottingham with National Videogame Arcade.
Ever thought about creating and publishing your own digital story? If so, this event, hosted by the National Videogame Arcade, is for you. Participants will take part in a two-hour ‘storyfest’ workshop led by Dr Spencer Jordan, in which you’ll be introduced to the Twine digital platform and taken through the basics of interactive, digital narrative building. You’ll create your own story and then be shown how you can publish it to the web.
No skills or knowledge of digital storytelling is necessary. Simply bring enthusiasm and lots of creativity.


Losing yourself in a book – the ‘Boots Booklovers Library’
A Free Event at Five Leaves Bookshop on November 22, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Five Leaves Bookshop.
Between 1899 and 1966 Boots the Chemist operated an extensive, national, circulating library, one which was renowned for service and the environment it created for subscribers. Come and find out why Jesse Boot went to the trouble of running such a popular service as a loss leader. This talk will remember the style and elegance of the libraries which were show pieces of contemporary interior design and most importantly the stories of the librarians who worked there.
Drawing on archive research and oral histories, hear how the libraries celebrated the reading year with a calendar of displays, subscription drives, holiday influxes and joining in with local events.
Discussion led by Dr Nickianne Moody of Liverpool John Moores University and Boots archivist Judith Wright.


Lost authors: Geoffrey Trease
A Free Event at Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, on November 24, 2pm-3:30pm, organised by University of Nottingham.
Nottingham-born Geoffrey Trease was a successful 20th-century writer of historical fiction for children. This workshop will re-exam the impact of Trease through two of his books, his very first book, Bows Against the Barons (1934) and Tales out of School (1949). Both are radical books in their very own way: Bows Against the Barons is an early depiction of Robin Hood as a radical anti-establishment leader in the shape of Wat Tyler, and Tales out of School challenges ideas about the role of fiction in the education of young readers.
This talk, which explores literature and its place in Nottingham’s local history and culture, will be led by Dr Gaby Neher.


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Favourite First Lines


In the words of a Jon McGregor title, there are So Many Ways To Begin. I’ve been in search of the best beginnings, or more specifically first lines, from Notts fiction and discovered a variety of gems. As Graham Greene’s opening sentence in The End of the Affair explains, A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

The same can be said for the opener. A good first sentence often occurs at a key point of conflict or interest. They operate to hook the reader and sometimes they can stand alone, memorable and compelling. Several years ago, I compiled a list of my favourite first lines from crime fiction. You can read them at the bottom of this post but, before you do, allow me to present some of the best opening sentences - in my opinion - from stories or authors associated in some way with Nottinghamshire.

Probably the best-known first line that can be associated with Nottingham is:

All children, except one, grow up.
Peter Pan by J M Barrie. The story is said to have been partly influenced by the writer's time in Nottingham in 1883/4.

And now for our best offerings:

Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. It's possible that there would have been no Brighton Rock if its author had not spent time in Nottingham, in 1925/6.
 
The moment I heard how McAra died I should have walked away.
The Ghost by Robert Harris

Even on the night she died, Rose Shepherd couldn’t sleep.
Scared To Live by Stephen Booth

I knew I was a target when I opened the cottage door that morning and found, sitting on the doorstep, a pair of false teeth.
Dead on Course by Glenis Wilson

Life through a phone is a lie.
Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

He approached her from behind – as he had done every night since he started to visit her.
Dream Lover by D Michelle Gent

People think when someone is stabbed they just fall down on the ground and die.
Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson

There were ghosts at the loch house long before we arrived with ours.
The Lives of Ghosts by Megan Taylor

Mr. Broke of Covenden had for the enlightenment of his middle life one son and six daughters.
Broke of Covenden by J C Snaith

Some people’d say I was destined for all this killing when Uncle Frank came into my life but it goes back further than that.

The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan

They break down the door at the end of December and carry the body away.
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence

Our best exponent of the first sentence could well be Alan Sillitoe. Here are a few of his finest:

The rowdy gang of singers who sat at the scattered tables saw Arthur walk unsteadily to the head of the stairs, and though they must have all know he was dead drunk, and seen the danger he would soon be in, no one attempted to talk to him and lead him back to his seat.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe

As soon as I got to Borstal they made me a long-distance cross-country runner.
The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe

I remember childhood as an intense and wonderful love-affair that was stamped out by the wilful circumstances of growing up.
A Start in Life by Alan Sillitoe

Facing each other across the table they took care their eyes wouldn’t meet, experienced to know that the ley lines of mutual attraction ought not be played with irresponsibility.
Alligator Playground by Alan Sillitoe

And the award for the longest first sentence (from a Nottingham book) goes to:

It was the night Milt Jackson came to town: Milt Jackson, who for more than twenty years had been a member of one of the most famous jazz groups in the world, the Modern Jazz Quartet; who had gone into the studio on Christmas Eve, 1954, and along with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, recorded one of Resnick’s all-time favourite pieces, ‘Bag’s Groove’; the same Milt Jackson who was standing now behind his vibraphone on the stage of the Broadway Media Centre’s Cinema Two, brought there with his new quartet as part of the Centre’s Film and Jazz Festival; Milt, handsome and dapper in his dark grey suit, black handkerchief poking folded from its breast pocket, floral tie, wedding ring broad on his finger and catching the light as he reaches down for the yellow mallets resting across his instrument; Milton ‘Bags’ Jackson, born Detroit, Michigan on New Year’s Day, 1923, and looking nothing like his seventy-three years, turning now to nod at the young piano player – relatively young – and the crowd that is packed into the auditorium, Resnick amongst them, holds its breath, and as Jackson raises a mallet shoulder high to strike the first note, the bleeper attached to the inside pocket of Resnick’s jacket intrudes its own insistent sound.
Still Water by John Harvey

If you’re wondering if John Harvey’s got a great shorter first line in him, try this belter:

The man running down the middle of the Alfreton Road at five past three that Sunday morning was, as Divine would say later, absolutely stark bollock naked.
Living Proof by John Harvey

With attention now turned to crime fiction, here’s that list I referred to, of my favourite first sentences from crime fiction. Enjoy:

This time there would be no witnesses.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

It was the bright yellow tape that finally convinced me my sister was dead.
The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.
City of Glass by Paul Auster

They were in one of the “I” states when Zeke told Isaac he had to ride in the trunk for a little while.
By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman

I wasn’t doing any work that day, just catching up on my foot-dangling.
Goldfish by Raymond Chandler

I rode a streetcar to the edge of the city limits, then I started to walk, swinging the old thumb whenever I saw a car coming.
After Dark, My Sweet by Jim Thompson

When the guy with asthma finally came in from the fire escape, Parker rabbit-punched him and took his gun away.
The Mourner by Richard Stark

I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug.
Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis

We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.
Darker Than Amber by John D MacDonald

It is cold at six-forty in the morning on a March day in Paris, and seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad.
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

It’s hard to get lost when you’re coming home from work.
Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley

Some years later, on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin’s feet were placed in a tub of cement.
Dennis Lehane by Live By Night

A big noisy wind out of the northeast, full of February chill, herded the tourists off the afternoon beach, driving them to cover, complaining bitterly.
The Quick Red Fox by John D MacDonald

The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there'.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

She was ten years old, but knew enough to wipe clean the handle of the bloody kitchen knife.
A Bitter Taste by Annie Hauxwell

I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte.
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Arthur Henry Spain, butcher, of Harlow Place, Flaxborough, awoke one morning from a dream in which he had been asking all his customers how to spell ‘phlegm’ and thought – quite inconsequentially: I haven’t seen anything of Lilian lately.
Lonelyheart 4122 by Colin Watson

Winter came in like an antichrist with a bomb.
The Pusher by Ed McBain

The night of my mother's funeral, Linda Dawson cried on my shoulder, put her tongue in my mouth and asked me to find her husband.
The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes

It is one of the sorry human habits to play the game of: What was I doing when it happened?
The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper by John D MacDonald

Death is my beat.
The Poet by Michael Connelly

An hour before her shift started, an hour before she was even supposed to be there, they rolled the first corpse through the door.
Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen

Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Jack Reacher ordered espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived he saw a man’s life change forever.
The Hard Way by Lee Child

I never knew her in life.
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

There were two armed men in his backyard when Detective Ash Rashid came home from work, and neither looked happy to see him.
The Outsider by Chris Culver

The business of murder took time, patience, skill, and a tolerance for the monotonous.
Vengeance in Death by J D Robb

I was standing on my head in the middle of my office when the door opened and the best looking woman I’d seen in three weeks walked in.
Stalking The Angel by Robert Crais

Four months and twenty-two days after he stopped taking his medication, Robin Greaves dragged the chair out from under the desk and sat down opposite the private investigator.
Two-Way Split by Allan Guthrie

The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of the Dancers.
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

When the car stopped rolling, Parker kicked out the windshield and crawled through onto the wrinkled hood, Glock first.
Backflash by Richard Stark

One evening, it was towards the end of October, Harry Arno said to the woman he’d been seeing on and off the past few years, “I’ve made a decision. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before in my life.”
Pronto by Elmore Leonard

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.
Firebreak by Richard Stark

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.
A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Meet our new Young Poet Laureate

Georgina Wilding has been named as Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate, a title she’ll keep for two years.

Nottingham born and bred, Georgina is already established on the poetry scene, beginning her poetry career working with the Mouthy Poets. She has a degree in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Nottingham and is the founding editor of Notts-based poetry publishing house, Mud Press.


On her new title, she said: “I am in absolute awe of the opportunity that’s been given to me. Both Nottingham and poetry are home to me, and I cannot wait to officially marry the two together for this prestigious role.”

The judging panel for the Nottingham YPL, which included London’s Young Poet Laureate and the founder of the Nottingham Poetry Festival, and the Director of Nottingham City of Literature, have said: “Georgina Wilding’s poetry, performance presence and ambitions to use the power of poetry to change lives made an immediate impression on the judges. She will play a fantastic role in promoting poetry to young people, and young people will love and be inspired by her.”
Georgina will be leading five residencies in venues across the city, including City Arts, Lakeside Arts Centre and Hyson Green Library. She will also be working internationally through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Her first outing as the new YPL will be a workshop at Hockley Hustle. NottsLit wishes her all the best, and looks forward to seeing what she will achieve in the role.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Our first Young Poet Laureate

Nottingham’s first ever Young Poet Laureate.

And the winner is...announced tomorrow. Here are the shortlisted poets:

Tyrone, Georgina, Chris and Cleo

Tyrone Moran-Healy
Ty Healy is a rapper/poet from Nottingham, England. Between being one of the frontmen for legendary Nottingham collective ‘1st Blood’ & one half of DJ and Rapper duo ‘Green Ratt’, Ty Healy has since started to work on solo material which has taken the spoken word route. The poetry side of this art form has taken centre stage as Ty establishes himself in the local Nottingham poetry community. His new spoken word project is due to be released called #BURY - a collection of poems recited over lush production inspired by various other genres of music.

Georgina Wilding
@WildingGeorgina 
Georgina is the Founding Editor of Mud Press - Nottingham’s own independent poetry publishing house. She’s been commissioned by organisations such as the BBC to write and perform for both radio and TV, has toured her poetry across the UK and Germany, and recently performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She has a first class degree in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Nottingham, and began her career in poetry working within the spoken word collective, Mouthy Poets.
 
Chris McLoughlin
Chris is a writer and workshop facilitator based in Nottingham. Chris’ writing focusses primarily on mental health and enabling others to discuss grief through writing. His aim is to create a platform for those suffering silently, and for readers and audiences to feel less alone. Chris has received a Distinction in MA Creative Writing from the University of Nottingham, been Artistic Director of Mouthy Poets, and is now pursuing a full-time career in writing.
 
Cleo Asabre-Holt
Cleo is a Nottingham-based Spoken Word Poet and creative writing Workshop Facilitator who has performed throughout the Midlands, London, and internationally. Cleo has also performed widely in Nottingham including headline and feature slots for Hockley Hustle, Poetercize, and Poetry is Dead Good. Always one for wearing her heart on her sleeve, Cleo’s poetry is an honest exploration of nature, relationships, childhood, and the urge to dance. She’s also unafraid to tackle vulnerable issues such as mental illness and societal discomfort. Cleo was recently awarded the prestigious M3C Scholarship to undertake a Masters in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham.

 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Bookshops in Notts

The trail below is a work in progress so please contact me with the name/details of any Nottinghamshire bookshop missing from this list.

A Walking Tour of Nottingham’s Bookshops – from the oldest to the newest

We begin at Jermy & Westerman.

293 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, NG1 3FS
Website
Open: Mon-Sat 11am-5pm

Nottingham’s best second-hand bookshop was established in 1978. The shop, which also sells some new books, has been owned by Geoff & Richard Blore (father and son) since 1987. The ground floor houses antiquarian books of local relevance as well as a tearoom. As the stairs climb upwards, so do their eclectic mix of books, which cover every wall and crevice. The shop was one of the host venues for the Nottingham Poetry Festival 2017, with performances from Nottingham poets Andrew Martin, Trevor Wright, Rosie Garner and Henry Normal.

Head down Mansfield Road, to the Intu Victoria Centre.


Once inside the main thoroughfare, look ahead, diagonally right, and you'll notice a branch of WHSmith.


124-126, Victoria Centre, Victoria Street, Nottingham, NG1 3QD
Website
Twitter @WHSmith
Open: Mon-Sat 8:30am-5:30pm, Sun 10:30am-4:30pm

This store hosts celebrity appearances and book signings. All its fiction, non-fiction and magazines are on the ground floor but for our next stop you’ll need to take the escalator up a level.



Head along a little farther and seek out the Victoria Market, Nottingham’s largest indoor market.



On the left hand side is Mary and Tony’s Books.



Victoria Market, Nottingham, NG1 3PS
Open: t.b.c.

In the middle of the last century D P Storey had a bookstall on the old Nottingham market. Mr Storey is now 98 years old and, unsurprisingly, retired, but his passion for bookselling has been inherited by his daughter. Mary began working with him when she left school and still sells books as one half of Mary & Tony's Books. They changed the name from D P Storey to Mary and Tony’s as that’s how customers referred to them. These friendly sellers of second-hand books (and the odd new book) are one of the few survivors from the time the market moved to the Vicky Centre back in the mid-1970s.
Tony, one half of Tony and Mary's

Head down and exit the shopping centre, then take a left on Lower Parliament Street.


As you pass Argos, note that it was about here in 1826 that Susannah Wright set up her first freethought bookstall, in what was then the Tradesmen's Mart. After one week, she moved across to Goose Gate in Hockley, and that’s where we are headed as we cross the road and cut through to Broad Street.



On the right is Rough Trade.

5 Broad Street, Nottingham, NG1 3AJ
Website
Twitter @roughtradenottm
Open: Mon-Thurs 10am-10pm (Music Floor 8pm), Fri-Sat 10am-11pm (Music Floor 8pm), Sun 11am-10pm (Music Floor 7pm)

The Nottingham branch of Rough Trade opened in 2014. More associated with music, Rough Trade also sells new books and hosts literary events, supporting local authors and poets alike.

At the end of Broad Street you might fancy turning left and taking a look inside Bookwise.


10 Goose Gate, Nottingham, NG1 1FF
Twitter @BookwiseNottm
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm

Proceeds from this charity shop go to Music for Everyone, a music-education charity which provides imaginative music participation opportunities across Nottingham and the region. As the CDs are front of house you’ll find most of the second-hand books upstairs.

There are more preloved books to be discovered at Oxfam.

16-22 Goose Gate, Nottingham, NG1 1FF
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sun 12-4pm

This stylish branch of Oxfam opened in 2009.

Up the hill we join Carlton Street. Carry on to Byron’s green plaque then continue down Victoria Street.



At Bridlesmith Gate turn left. From here you’ll see Nottingham’s largest bookshop, Waterstones.


1-5 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham, NG1 2GR
Website
Twitter @WaterstonesNG
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-6:30pm, Sun 11am-5pm

This grand Victorian building fills five floors, a coffee shop and a large events’ room.

From Waterstones take a walk down St Peter’s Gate.

On the left is St Peter’s Church which has a small Christian bookshop at the entrance to a large coffee shop.



Open: Mon-Fri 10am-2:30pm

Move along to Wheeler Gate.



For over a century there was a bookshop on Wheeler Gate (1897-2005). The once impressive store is now flats and a Sainsbury’s Express.

At the end of the street you might fancy a short trip up Friar Lane to Forbidden Planet, if the comic, manga, anime, graphic-art forms of fantasy are your bag.


19-23 Friar Lane, Nottingham, NG1 6DA
Website
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pm, Sun 11:00am-4pm

Otherwise, continue up Beastmarket Hill and take the natural left of Angel Row (if it’s a Thursday or Friday).

Opposite Central Library is West End Arcade, inside which you’ll discover Books and Pieces.


19 West End Arcade, Angel Row, Nottingham, NG1 6JN
Open: Thurs & Fri daytime.

It’s a small unit, rammed with thousands of used books.

Walking back towards the Old Market Square you’ll pass Market Street on your left. Up here is Page 45.


9 Market Street, Nottingham, NG1 6HY
Website
Twitter @PageFortyFive

Created in 1994, Page 45 sells comics and graphic novels, as well as second-hand books. It’s an award-winning shop of which Neil Gaiman said, “I’ve long thought that Page 45 is the best graphic novel shop I’ve ever been to…”

Also on Market Street is Oxfam Books & Music.


19 Market Street, Nottingham NG1 6HX

After the delights of Market Street continue back along Low Pavement, to the Nottingham Tourism Centre.


1-4 Smithy Row, Nottingham, NG1 2BY
Open:  Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:30pm

Another award-winning venue, the Tourism Centre stocks a decent selection of books of local interest.


Looking across and right from here is The Works.

14 Long Row, Nottingham City Centre, Nottingham, NG1 2DH
Website 

The Works has a good stock of new books with commercial fiction and non-fiction at reasonable prices.

Next door is our final destination, Five Leaves Bookshop.

14a Long Row, Nottingham, NG1 2DH
Website
Twitter @FiveLeavesBooks
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5:30pm, Sun 12-4pm

Radical and independent, Five Leaves opened their doors in 2013. They stock a good selection of new books with sections devoted to poetry, beat writers, art, travel, anarchism, Jewish interest, LGBT issues, black history, philosophy and spiritualism. The venue hosts book launches, poetry readings and more with a busy programme of literary events. They even run their own mini-festival, Bread and Roses.

Other City Centre Bookshops

Bargain Book Time
12 Broadwalk, Broadmarsh, Nottingham, NG1 7LE
Open: Mon-Sat 9-5.30pm, Sun 10:30am-4:30pm

This store opened in 2010 and has a wide selection of new books.

Ideas on Paper
Unit 4b, Cobden Chambers, Nottingham, NG1 2ED
Website
Twitter @Ideas_on_Paper

A selection of magazines, journals, and books on fashion, art, culture, design, business, economics, food, wine and travel. The shop focuses on independent publications.

WHSmith


38 Listergate, Nottingham, NG1 7DD

Blackwells University Bookshop

Chaucer Building, Goldsmith St, Nottingham, NG1 5LT

More Notts Bookshops

The BOOKCASE


50 Main Street, Lowdham, Nottingham, NG14 7BE
Website
Twitter @TheBookcase1
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5:30pm, Sat 9am-4pm

An award-winning independent bookshop situated in the heart of Lowdham. This small but perfectly formed shop was founded in 1996.

Strays Newark


17-21 Boar Lane, Newark, NG24 1AJ
Website
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-12noon, Sun 9am-5pm.

A family owned business that has been selling books in Newark since 1994, specialising in books for children and young adults, they also stock local titles, history, travel and literature.

Gladstone Books

No.2 Bull Yard, (off King St & Queen St via Harmans Walk), Southwell, Nottinghamshire, NG25 0EH
Website 
Open: Thurs-Fri mornings and afternoons, Sat morning.

About 3000 high quality books are on display, with good selections of classical and modern fiction, history, poetry, essays, biographies, local and natural history, gardening, various arts and crafts, philosophy, theology, sociology, politics and reference books.

Beeston Bookshop
58 High Road, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2JQ

Beeston Bookshop is a long established 'remaindered' bookshop selling discontinued books.

Book Law Publications

382 Carlton Hill, Carlton, Nottingham, NG4 1AJ

Established in 1987, they specialise in transport books, which this family business also publishes.

The Mustard Seed
2 Main Road, Gedling, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG4 3HP
Website
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm

A Christian bookshop and tearoom, it’s been around for over 30 years.

Blackwells University Bookshop

University of Nottingham, Portland Building, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD
Twitter @BlackwellsUofN ‏

Blackwells University Bookshop

Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane, Clifton, NG11 8NS

The Works

43 Market Place, Newark, NG24 1EG
Website
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pmm, Sun 10am-4pm

Caliver Books

40a Percy Street, Eastwood, Nottingham, NG16 3EP
Website
Open: Mon-Sat 9:30am-4.45pm

Purveyors of military and historical books.

Bookworm

1 Spa Lane, Retford, Nottinghamshire, DN22 6EA

Oxfam Bookshop

12 Central Avenue, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 5GR

Bookwise, Newark 

Church Street, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1DT  
Open: Mon-Sat 9:30am-4:30pm.

Bookwise, Southwell

2 Queen Street, Southwell, NG25 0AA
Open: Mon-Sat 9:30am-4:30pm.

WHSmith

54 Bridge Place, Worksop, S80 1JN     

WHSmith

Four Seasons Shopping Centre, Mansfield, NG18 1SN      

WHSmith

24-26 Front Street, Arnold, NG5 7EL

WHSmith

Kingsmill Hospital, Mansfield Road, Sutton-In-Ashfield, NG17 4JL

WHSmith

Market Place, Newark        

WHSmith

55 High Street, Long Eaton, Nottingham, NG10 1HZ

WHSmith

25 High Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 2JQ

Oxfam

142 Front Street, Arnold, Nottingham, NG5 7EG

Oxfam

25 Plains Road, Mapperley, Nottingham, NG3 5LG

Oxfam

650 Mansfield Road, Sherwood, Nottingham, NG5 2GA

Oxfam

58 High Road, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2JP