Monthly Archives: January 2012

The alchemy of Peter Carey

For his latest novel, The Chemistry of Tears, Peter Carey takes as his inspiration Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, and a particular automaton, a mechanical marvel by John Joseph Merlin that is on display at the Bowes Museum. Carey then takes down from the shelf his secret recipe: one part fabulist fancy, one part earthy larrikin humour,

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The weeds in the writer’s garden

Sue Healy’s post about finding time to write arrived in my mailbox at an apt moment. I’m working long hours and arriving home depleted and sore-eyed. I would add another hazard to Sue’s list: the language of your workplace can be ruinous for your writing. Corporate managers and bureaucrats, for example, mistake complex sentence structures and windy phrases for formality.

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Caxton’s gadget

Is that a book in your pocket, or are you nostalgic this evening? No, it’s not an edition of On the Road that you can read. It’s a passport cover bearing the Penguin Classics branding. Which makes me wonder: are sales of Penguin-branded stationery, bags, passport covers and mugs now outstripping Penguin’s book sales? Is the Penguin brand fetish stronger

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