Blog : Posts tagged with 'Jan Mark'

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All The Dead Writers And Me: Jan Mark

In which we remember a great writer


This post has been a long time coming. Ever since I read her obituary, I’ve been meaning to write it, and been putting it off; and that was back in January.

Jan Mark is probably one of the writers who has meant the most to me over the years, at least in terms of understanding writing, and storytelling. She was mostly known as a children’s writer, producing prizewinning, wonderful work such as Thunder And Lightnings. My own favourite piece from her children’s books was a short story, “Nule”,* about two children who treat one of their house’s newel posts as if it’s human, then start to worry that it’s becoming slightly too human.

My favourite book of hers, though, is her single “adult” book, Zeno Was Here. It’s a love story, a very touching one, but it’s mostly about writing itself. It’s about the writing process, the nature of writing, and the feeling of being written about. It’s a novel about the structure of novels, and it’s the book which introduced me to the works of Flann O’Brien.** It’s about coincidence. It ends with the kind of bone-jarring unexpected coincidence that just doesn’t happen in novels; and then you remember that a hundred pages earlier, the characters were discussing just why those sort of events don’t happen in novels, when they crop up in real life all the time.

It’s quite an obscure book, and – as far as I know – has been out of print for ten years, at least. I found my copy of it by just the sort of coincidences that don’t happen in books: finding out that it existed, and going to my local library to see if they had a copy, I found it among the fifty or so tatty things on the “Withdrawn, For Sale” table. It’s only right, I suppose, that you should find a book about coincidence in that sort of way. If you find a copy yourself, read it, because it deserves to be better-known.

* from the collection Nothing To Be Afraid Of

** Another writer I’ve been meaning to post about, but haven’t

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End of the week

In which we’re glad it’s Friday


Hurrah, it’s Friday again. I have a busy busy weekend ahead, though, so I’ll probably be more tired on Monday than I am now.

I haven’t bothered to find out how the local elections went, but I have discovered one thing: one of the Labour candidates round here is Colleague M’s ex.* If he’s won, I’ll have to tell you more about him some time.

Tip for you, if you’re thinking of buying a digital camera: don’t get a Samsung. Big Dave did, and frankly it just didn’t work. It would crash, lock up, or just not take photos – when you went back to look at the memory card, nothing but blank black images. So it’s back at the shop now, and Big Dave has his money back. I tried to persuade him he should buy an expensive SLR, but he wasn’t having any of it.

I was thinking that my post about Flann O’Brien hasn’t made it onto the site yet – but then I remembered that neither has my planned post about the late Jan Mark. The problem with literary posts is that I feel I need to reread all the relevant books first, which really acts as nothing more than a delay…

The Plain People Of The Internet: Hang on a minute. If Jan Mark is the late Jan Mark, why isn’t Flann O’Brien late also, as they are both equally as dead as the other?

Myself: Shut up, you.

Anyway, time to get away and get on with the rest of the day. The sooner Friday’s over, the sooner it’s the weekend. I’m going off to a certain club again tomorrow** – hopefully I’ll talk to people this time.

* Recent readers might not have come across Colleague M – I haven’t heard much from her at all since she became Ex-Colleague M.

** Yes, that one.

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Month

In which we celebrate


I’m feeling rather pleased with myself at managing to fulfil two of my resolutions so far this month. I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2, and I’ve managed to post every day this month. Even when I didn’t have very much to say – this post is cheating, frankly.

Next month I definitely won’t manage it, because I’ve already got a couple of holidays planned. I do have a few things I’m thinking about posting though. For one thing, I need to tell you about Colleague M’s Sudden Surprise Resignation from work. And write that item about Jan Mark’s book Zeno Was Here that I promised the other week. Not to mention re-write that post about mythology and the Tower of London that I accidentally deleted the other day. Which would you like to see first?

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Unrelated things

In which there is both good and bad


Two small things today, because I’m too sleepy to write more.

Firstly, some lovely photos of the dying Glasgow Subway in the 1970s.*

Secondly, reading the paper at lunchtime, I turned to the obituaries to find that one of my favourite writers, Jan Mark, died recently. Although she was known as a children’s writer, her “adult novel” Zeno Was Here is a lovely novel, and one of my favourite books. I’ll write more about it soon.

* Link via qwghlm.co.uk

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