Tag Archives: film

The Best Non-Books on Writing – Part 2


After the online reading material of the last post, I promised there would be a follow up in a weeks time. In an effort to keep you guessing – or rather in a total lack of effort to do anything – that post is now here just a few weeks later than scheduled but no more polished or thought out for all that extra time.

This post is a collection of links to things I and those around me have found useful creatively


Morton Feldman and John Cage in Conversation (Youtube)

This from friend of the blog Flo, who found much in this discussion of music that has helped with her writing.

In fact it is interesting to note how many of the links below relate as much if not more to music, the one art that is almost entirely unrepresentative but which seems to be a source of endless ekphrastism at least in the particular circle of eccentrics I’ve been landed with.

Watch the conversation here.


Meet the Composers (Podcast)

I’ve never listened to this, so have little to say on the subject, but best friend of the blog J S Loveard said it should be on the list. Listen here.

Glass in 12 Parts (Youtube)

Ditto this.

Ira Glass on creating stuff (Youtube)

And while we’re on the subject of the glass brothers….

Desert Island Discs

This hardly needs an introduction if you’re British, but for those who hail from outside these fair isles this BBC institution involves celebrities of all stripes, including writers, choosing a series of records which they would take with them if they were to be stranded on a desert island without hope of rescue.

The music is then used to punctuate an interview about their professional careers. It is a format that works even in the vast archive where the actual tracks have been taken out for copyright reasons.

You can hunt for your favourite castaways in the BBC radio archives here.

In Their Own Words (TV Series)

This is another favourite of JS’s. A documentary series based around interviews of various novelists it basically serves as an introduction to the 20th-Century novel as directed by the people who happened to have spent time in front of the camera.

Watch the trailer here.

Civilisation BBC TV Series

Commissioned by David Attenborough in his time as one of the admin top-brass in the then new colour channel BBC 2. To make full use of the new colour format this inspiring and beautiful walk through Western European art history was curated and told by Kenneth Clarke as he wanders through museums and churches pointing cameras at nice things and then talking about them. Like Planet Earth but for sculptures, tapestries and paint.

You can the DVDs on Amazon here.

A good companion read is E M Gombrich’s The Story of Art.

BBC Modern Writers Archive

Lord Reith’s commission has a lot to answer for on this list. Including the collection of interviews with writers (one of the sources for much of the In Their Own Words series). They’ve been collected, conveniently on the BBC website, so you can hear your favourite and least favourite writers talk at you from your own computer.

Find their trapped souls here.

Every Frame A Painting

A fabulous series of short video essays, which are lovely works of art in and of themselves. You can subscribe to the channel here.

I will also leave you with this, which remains one of my favourite clips about creating:


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September’s Reading, Part 1

Finally, actually bringing my reading posts up to date, here are the reviews of my September reading. I got through 10 books last month, so this comes in two parts.

Part One:

1. Seven Brief Lessons in Physics by Carlo Rovelli, who doesn’t say a lot and doesn’t take up much room saying it.


Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

This reprint of seven physics articles originally published in an Italian newspaper are fairly uplifting in their rhetoric, but are somewhat lacking in content. Hampered by the newspaper word count he is barely able to say anything substantial, and as he chose not to expand them for the book, so the whole thing was pretty disappointing.

I would not recommend.

2. The Gap of Time: The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson, who is wrong about the play.


The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

This is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series in which writers are asked to do a modern day reboot of various Shakespeare plays. Winterson chose (poorly) to do The Winter’s Tale which is half of a great play followed by an eisteddfod.

But she massively improves on the source material, somehow getting away left, right and centre with terrible modernisations (Autolycus sells cars, his business is called Autos Like Us; King Leontes becomes Leo Kaiser; Bohemia becomes Little Bohemia in New Orleans; etc…) and generally creating a sort of magical realism that works as a beautiful modern version of the Romance genre. It is great.

Would highly recommend.

3. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, who must be a laugh at parties.


Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

A well written prequel to Jane Eyre, which is fabulously sordid and miserable. In a mostly good, but not super pleasant way. Which seems a good summary of Jean Rhys’ work in general.

Would recommend to those who don’t mind getting their brains a bit grimy.

4. The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot by Lyndall Gordon, who has a just terrible first name.


The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot by Lyndall Gordon

Really interesting and well written account of the great poets life. With close biographical readings of his work and a lot of disappointing information about his attitude to women and the Jews.

The books can be somewhat repetitive as it winds back and forward over his life looking at various themes in his works, but otherwise:

Would recommend.

5. How to Read A Film: Movies, Media, and Beyond: Art Technology, Language, History, Theory by James Monaco, whose titles contain too much punctuation.


How to Read a Film by James Monaco

A great introductory text for anyone interested in film. It has sections on how films get made, the history of film technology and art, an overview of film theory, and a bunch of less interesting chapters on other media.

Would recommend to those interested in getting a quick-ish overview of film.

Part two to follow soon.

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