The pleasures and benefits of reading are still denied to many children - in 2012, one in eight left primary school unable to read to the required standard. Beanstalk trains volunteers to give one-to-one support to children who have fallen behind with their reading, using the delights of storytelling to enthuse and enrich them.
It was reported by The Telegraph recently that 'sex has been all but eradicated from Hollywood scripts over the past 18 months'. Apparently sex scenes are being shunned in favour of dazzling special effects and tellingly, only two films containing sex and nudity made the box office top ten in the UK last year. So what is the reason for Hollywood's languishing libido?
We sat in the kitchen for our writerly discussion. He held a sheaf of A4 paper, covered in typescript while I was armed with my favourite pen and my kitchen reading glasses. I slid them onto my nose, squinting around the scratches and food smudges. Two mugs of tea and a plate of just baked flapjacks sat on the table between us.
When BS Johnson first approached a literary agent with his debut novel Travelling People he received an outright rejection. The agent described the novel as 'pretentious and unsaleable,' according to Philip Tew, co-editor of a new compendium of Johnson's diverse output, Well Done God! Selected Prose and Drama of BS Johnson.
World War Two has become an epic of nostalgia entirely disconnected from the cause of anti-fascism, the sacrifices made by the Red Army on the Eastern Front once again hidden from history. Stalingrad, forgotten, scarcely meriting a mention in the mainstream media despite its fixation with all things WW2.
Saunders is a great one for internal reverie. We see directly into his characters' minds - their secret dreams and fantasies - before he reveals these reveries for what they are: delusions. If I have any criticism it is this: he has a habit of revisiting characters, themes and ideas, which in a collection of just ten stories, feels like a bit of a cheat. Nevertheless, this is an absorbing read.