Footless giant – A visit to Kafka’s Prague

I’M ON A FLYING VISIT to Prague. I have been to Prague before, but over twenty years ago, and I’d forgotten how beautiful and unspoilt the place is. And, of course, it being Prague, my thoughts turn almost instantly to Franz Kafka. This powerful association between city and writer is reinforced when I open the […]

Three Poets in Key West, Florida

She had heard the news in the post office. Two women were talking and she picked up one of them saying something like, ‘— Yes, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens, right here, can you believe it?’ She listened some more but they started gossiping about church matters so she had to interrupt. Excuse me. Did […]

Our man in Antibes

I am in Antibes and I’m a bit lost as the GPS on my phone keeps packing up. Furthermore, there is something of a fracas on the street I’m heading down. A red pompier truck has parked itself squarely in the roadway, blue lights flashing, traffic is backed up and people are stepping out of […]

Virtual Vienna

I AM IN VIENNA. Or, rather, I should be in Vienna. Put it this way, I would like to be in Vienna, right now, on the Austrian leg of a mini book tour – Salzburg, Vienna, Zurich, Munich – for the reissue in Germany of my novel Die blaue Stunde (The Blue Afternoon). But force […]

What war was like

If poetry was the literary form of the First World War, it was fiction that best expressed the reality of the Second. My next-door neighbour for many years, Colonel Peter Peyman, was a veteran of Dunkirk. As a young subaltern he’d fought in the rearguard and had been lucky to be evacuated. After his death […]