Short Story Month: ‘The Last Shaman’

In 1952, after the Chinese Revolution the leaders of the Oroquen agreed to give up their superstitions and religious practices. Over three nights in July a special ritual was held by the whole community to drive away the spirits from the land. Read more here…

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Review of ‘The Dressing-Up Box’ by David Constantine

David Constantine, The Dressing-Up Box, Comma Press, £14.99 In the third short story in this collection, Siding with the Weeds, Joe goes to visit his old friend Bert. Details of place are meticulously realised; Bert lives on a cul-de-sac on an estate of ‘Sunshine Houses, all with key-hole porches, around a green’. At the back…

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Short Story Month: ‘Callow’

Keith’s mother had once told him it had taken four years of trying before he was born and then another eight for Tim to come along. At Christmas. He remembered being nonplussed, and a little outraged by the gift of a new baby brother, which he definitely hadn’t asked for. Read more here…

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Review of Nikolai Leskov stories

A new edition of the selected stories of Nikolai Leskov (1831-95)! Although less widely known than Tolstoy or Chekhov, he was admired by both. First published by Dostoevsky, Leskov is credited with creating the most comprehensive portrayals of Russian life in the 19th century. His novella, Lady Macbeth of Mtensk was made into an opera…

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What Manchester means to me

When I was a child I lived in a council flat on the seventh floor of a tower block in Ashton-under-Lyne. I spent a lot of time on the balcony, looking out towards Manchester. Manchester to me was a long line of bright lights on the horizon. It was also the city where my mum…

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From Court to Cloister

From Court to Cloister After nine years of research there is one moment that stands out to me, among all the remarkable events of the Wars of the Roses. The event I am talking about took place in October 1459, at the Battle of Ludlow, which is also known as the Battle of Ludford Bridge…

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Reading the Market

  Obviously, people read for different reasons; to switch off, to turn on, to be informed about the world they live in or to escape from it; for research or for relaxation.  Various studies into reading fiction have investigated this, though none of them comprehensively. In 2005 the British Marketing Council conducted a survey into…

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