Venezuela Frozen

    The morning crawled slowly slowly up the garbage bag’s skin. In a red-tinted back street a garbage truck stands like a colossus. The boy wakes up and goes for breakfast, eating from the garbage truck’s ass. A cold morning wind blows in from the foaming sea. The boy shivers; until he hears his…

The Origins of Travel: Grace Under Pressure

  We are often told that travel is freedom. It’s a romantic view of what is essentially leisurely migration. I don’t see it that way. Not anymore. Wanderlust: one of the most beautiful words in the English language (and typically of Germanic origins) is an evocative word that breathes mountain air and wistful breezes. But…

The Ghostly Cries of Istanbul

She had barely run out the door when her mother cried out to her: “it’s just a plane!” But the girl didn’t hear her, or anything, only the shrill engine of the plane; she saw her mother’s hand reaching out to her, but she turned away and cried: “bombs! Bombs are coming!” “Is this a…

Day of the Dead

In the Xicotencatl, somewhere in the soul-deserting streets of the Coyoacan neighbourhood, Alicia found La Santa Gula. It was the only place in the whole of Mexico City where she could hope to speak Maltese. Her Spanish was pitiful, lazy, and speaking it elicited painful memories that used to be happy. No: she changed too…

Silhouettes on the Sea

On Sea   The word hovers in the lilting air It sucks in all meaning into itself. Ravenous, greedy, a vacuum crunching up all life All so it can devour all meaning. To cannibalise it, for meaning is also a word, And strip away that universe of connotation Until all something is rendered nothing. The…

Championing Our Divisive Modern History

    As a devoted admirer of the art of history, a tour guide and a writer who lives on an island so densely packed and renowned for its history you would be right to expect a historical novel or two from me. I recently read an article about Jon Cassar, a Hollywood producer of…

Hekk Ikun

Hekk Ikun   Mur aqbadlu jdejh. Mur zejjen il-kwiekeb mieghu. Mur sorgi fuq il-lewn maghzul, Mieghu.   Kollox mieghu. Ja melodija tas-sejjieh, Ara, mohhok hemm: Ser titlaqli jdejja Biex tmur hdejh, U ara, hares sew, Kif tmur tigri wara dak it-tifel B’ghajnejh Zonqor u xaghru xemxi U tbissimtu moderna daqs l-eternita’ – Araha titlaqli jdejja…

My Favourite Passages From The Shadows of Paradise

    I   Writing. A piece of fucking writing, Johnny mumbled to himself with awe-struck delight as he walked back to his seat. For a brief, intense time after that Johnny started telling the world, with the typically local graceless bravado, that he was going to be a writer! He suddenly spent hours reading,…

A Poetic Foundation

  The poetic foundation of a new novel…     I   That one embrace, Arms clasped Fingers entwined; That lasts lifetimes.   Mine’s and yours. If only I knew it then.   II   I would forsake the tides of history To guarantee your happiness: And I will. But quickly, before the clouds Veil…

Hardcore Writers no. 3 Ways of Escape – Graham Greene

    During his period as journalist Graham Greene did some work writing film reviews. Here is what he had to say about one of Shirley Temple’s early, childhood films: “ Her admirers — middle aged men and clergymen — respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed…

Third-World, First Rate

  For centuries now the Western world has held a monopoly on literature. Think of the literary greats and your mind rushes to Londoners, Americans, Frenchmen, Russians. This happens even if you are the most open-minded of people. And in a way it is only fair: the novel is a European invention. It gestated in…

Destinations Made Sacred By Literature

    “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway, The Moveable Feast             “India, the new myth–a collective fiction in which anything was possible, a fable rivalled…