Category Archives: Fiction

Iain Banks from the Archives

Yesterday, we heard the sad news of the death of Iain Banks at the unacceptably young age of 59. Iain was never the darling of the literary establishment, but he was the favourite author of hundreds of thousands of passionate readers, and Tim had rated him one of the best of his generation since his stunning debut with The Wasp Factory in 1984. In 1995 Tim interviewed Iain on the occasion of the publication of his fourteenth novel, Whit. Iain was unfailingly friendly and forthcoming whenever we asked for access to him. With grateful thanks to Iain for his kindness to this site, we present this slightly edited version of … Continue reading

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Martin Amis from the Archive – London Fields

London Fields is in many ways the quintessential Martin Amis novel. At the end of the Twentieth century – ten years in the future when Tim interviewed him in 1989–there are looming portents of global catastrophe, which stand in for Amis’s fear of nuclear annihilation. There is sex, there is mystery, there are post-modern games with authorship, there are degenerate underclass characters, including one of Amis’s immortal creations in Keith Tallent, the would-be darts magus, and there are bucketloads of scabrous humour. But there is also tenderness and a heartfelt investment in children and the future. If Amis has never written anything better than London Fields since then, there is no shame … Continue reading

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John Mortimer from the archive – Rumpole And The Angel Of Death

John Mortimer occupied positions at the very top of not one but two professions. He was a great writer – we need think no further than A Voyage Around My Father, and he was one of the most eminent barristers and QCs of his generation. The happy collision of these two strings to his bow was of course Rumpole of the Bailey, and in 1995 Tim had the pleasure of discussing with him the tenth collection of stories, Rumpole And The Angel Of Death. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks-archive-johnmortimer.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Android | RSS

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Salman Rushdie from the archive – The Moor’s Last Sigh

Salman Rushdie is one of our most distinguished writers, having made a shattering entrance with Midnight’s Children (now coming out as a film). He ascended to an unwecome level of notoriety when The Satanic Verses provoked Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against him. But despite the terrifying contingency into which his life was pitched, he continued to write novels of seething vitality and, in 1995, Tim spoke with him about one of these: The Moor’s Last Sigh. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks-archive-salmanrushdie.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Android | RSS

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Terry Pratchett from the archive – Maskerade

Sir Terry Pratchett is a legend. The Discworld series set the gold standard for comic fantasy. Tim has been a fan since the very first book, and in this rare interview from 1995 he talked to Terry about the eighteenth Discworld book, Maskerade. Tim was delighted with the return of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, but the book really takes off when Agnes Nitt decides that she wants to become a diva, and we are treated to the grand guignol Discworld take on the world of opera… http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks-archive-terrypratchett.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Android | RSS

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Iain M Banks – The Hydrogen Sonata

The Gzilt came close to being one of the founding civilisations of the Culture, but they have come to the point where they are ready to Sublime to the next level of existence. You might think that their minds would be on higher things, but there are still political shenanigans to stir the pudding before they’re ready for Nirvana. Not least, there is the vexed question of which of the competing scavenger species lays claim to the technology and territory the Gzilt are giving up. Iain M Banks thinks of the Culture as his virtual train set, which he periodically takes out to play with for another five hundred pages. … Continue reading

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Christopher Fowler – Bryant and May and the Invisible Code

A woman dies for no apparent reason in a church in Fleet Street. A pair of children were playing Witch-Hunter nearby and they placed a curse on her. This is meat and drink to Bryant and May, the superannuated detectives in Christopher Fowler’s entertaining series. Further equally inexplicable deaths follow, but the detectives are obliged to undertake a job for their political boss whose glamorous, foreign wife is showing increasing signs of instability. Christopher Fowler gained an enviable reputation as a writer of what he calls ‘dark fiction’ and his brilliant feel for the underside of life feeds in satisfyingly to his more recent persona as a writer of cheerful … Continue reading

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Larry Watson – American Boy

Larry Watson is better known in his native America than in the UK, but Tim has been a fan since Larry’s first novel Montana 1948. Eight novels have followed, each one telling a compelling story in Larry’s characteristic limpid prose. His new book, American Boy, is a luminous coming of age story set in the early 1962 when grown ups had the sex and the teenagers were envious of them, the exact reverse of the present day. Larry in Wisconsin and Tim in Finchley discussed the book via the magic of Skype. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks_larrywatson-americanboy.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Android | RSS

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Russell Hoban – Angelica Lost And Found

Russell Hoban defies comparison with other writers. There is nobody else writing books like his. If his readership is select, he is nonetheless one of those writers whose new book we read as a matter of course. You never know what you’re going to get, except that it will delight and tease and intrigue, and take you in unexpected directions. A Russell Hoban novel is mysterious. You will think you have got hold of it, and want to share it with your friends, and then when you try to pin it down and tell someone about it, you will find that its solidities and vivid themes have escaped you like … Continue reading

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Iain Banks – Surface Detail

Is Iain Banks our best novelist? If our criteria are muscular prose, brilliant plotting and an apparently effortless manipulation of character then he certainly has a claim. At any rate he is among our most entertaining, robust and inventive writers. On the occasion of the publication of his new science fiction novel, Surface Detail, he talked to Tim Haigh, discussing such questions as why advanced civilisations would create Hells, whether continuity of consciousness is necessary to personhood, and whether suffering and anguish have any significance in virtual reality, while not neglecting big explosions in space, laser cannons, artificial intelligences of dubious sanity and why spaceships ought to have extravagantly strange … Continue reading

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