Back when I was but a cut of a lad attending Saint Malachy's College in Belfast, my English master - well the examinations board really - insisted that I read Charles Dickens' Great Expectations in furtherance of my literary education. Now, being a mere lad, with want to do all and everything deemed possible other than read Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, it is safe to say that I was less than enthusiastic. I was proved wrong though, because I lapped it up - the depth of the story, the vibrant characters, the just downright brilliance of the writing - Dickins' mastery blew me away, and began my love affair with books.
From there on, I progressed to other classics - both accepted and modern - yet, like many seduced by the newness of contemporary fiction, I strayed and it was a good fifteen years before I rediscovered Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Stoker, Hardy, and the like. Now I make it a point to either find, or reread, at least six or seven classic novels every year. Not a great number, but it keeps my hand in.
Many people disregard the allure of the classic writers, seeing them as old, established, and jaded. Yet, in their day, these writers were the revolutionaries, cutting edge writing with cutting edge messages, and I challenge anyone looking at them anew to place themselves in the mindset of the reader of the time - even swap mental genders if you like - and see them as they were intended. Not a curriculum book for lethargic adolescents, but dynamic observations of the world these writers lived in.
My first suggestion for those who either haven't read it before, or wish to pick it up again, is Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. In my opinion, one of the best put together stories of the time, with its underlying current of insurgency and a poking a cheeky two fingers up at the inflexible Victorian mindset.
Enjoy the rediscovery or discovery ... and have a funky month.
My movie of the month:
Stargate Universe - Again, I know it's not a movie - but, like Battlestar Galactica, it is worthy of mention as such. The episodes where character driven and the story-lines an obsession. Fantastic stuff that, if the people who make it have their way, will remain unfinished without season 4 - which is like ending Rocky the second before he gets into the ring - and how ludicrous would that be?
My book of the month:
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde. Everything I said above, plus just a brilliant story - do yourself a massive favour and read it.
My artist of the moment:
Paul Hickey; London - STILL Once in while someone comes along who has vision, nerve, and the raw rebellious energy to take some materials and turn them into stories. As a writer, I like my art to speak to me, to tell me something, and to just plain please the eye. Paul Hickey's work does all that for me - so much so, I had to track him down and buy one. You can see what he does so brilliantly at:
Amazon Bestselling Author of The Silver Mist
Information about Martin and his novels can be found at: