Monthly Archives: March 2008

Captain Tramplemousse

Adele Geras alerted me to this, so I’ll pass it on. I’m far too old for MySpace, and this was one of my very few visits. It’s a song called Captain Tramplemousse, sung by The Wurpy Quade (yes, really).

The Captain is a character in a short story by Adele in her collection Apricots At Midnight. This is actually one of my Adele favourites, because it’s so nicely old-fashioned and comfortable, if you know what I mean. It could have been written a very long time ago, and it features patchwork and the memories that different pieces of fabric can have for you.


No, not the people who live in Finland. Those others, who keep popping up in fiction. What’s with the name Finn? It tends to be a certain type of fictional character who’s called Finn, or Finnigan. I wonder why?

My most recent example is Finnigan in Sonya Hartnett’s Surrender. He’s a real wild one.

Linda Newbery has a mysterious, if older, Finnigan in her new book Nevermore.

And the free boy in What I Was by Meg Rosoff is called Finn.

I’m fairly sure Celia Rees has a Finn in one of her horror books, set in South West Wales. Again, a sort of free spirit.

I love the name, but find it strange how it gets used. I wonder about the thought processes that determine what name an author gives their characters. Is it along the lines of “I’ve got this outsider type, romantic character, so let’s go in the Celtic/Irish direction and name him Finn”?

Even Kian in Cathy Cassidy’s Scarlett has the same ring to it. What other romantic names of this kind are there?


There’s been a pleasing regularity with things recently.

Author travels from North America to Britain. Gets to go on Woman’s Hour. Meets with the witch. Presumably goes home to Canada and Chicago again, mission accomplished.

So, after Budge Wilson last week, it’s Sara Paretsky this week. As I might have mentioned once or twice. (Don’t want to bore anyone. Much.)

Sara Paretsky, Manchester

Heard Sara speak at the big bookshop last night. If it hadn’t been for Sara, I may well have exited again, so uncomfortable was the venue. This morning it is the turn of the much smaller bookshop.

Will report back later, as usual. If there is a delay, it’s purely down to complete brain exhaustion.

Website for Siobhan’s trust

Here is the new address for anyone wanting to donate to Siobhan Dowd’s Trust.

I’ve been profiled…

You can read some not very interesting facts about me on Normblog today.

Talking to Budge Wilson

My talk with Budge Wilson about her book Before Green Gables is up under interviews. She’s a lovely lady, so do read it.

Bleeding Kansas

Sara Paretsky has a new book out. It’s not a V I Warshawski. It’s not even crime. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted Sara to leave crime behind, but that was before I read Bleeding Kansas.

I’m beginning to feel that Sara can write anything, and it will be very good. There was the Writing In An Age Of Silence last year, which wasn’t even fiction, but extremely good, and an interesting view of America today and yesterday.

That’s what Bleeding Kansas is, too: A reflexion on what rural America thinks and does. I’m still trying to work out whether the book is mainly anti-war, or if Sara also wanted to highlight the religious bigotry in rural areas. The book could even be a dig at naive city dwellers, who can’t just take their city ways into the country.

Bleeding Kansas tells the stories of several families in Kansas, and in particular how they deal with the Iraq war, and the presence of modern witches in their midst. There’s also a, possibly, Hebrew speaking calf, which causes tension between families who haven’t got on well for quite a while, but who still need to live as neighbours.

There is a fourteen-year-old girl called Lara, who reminds me a lot of V I. Her father Jim is a very decent man, who struggles with everything that happens to his family, and still hangs on to his integrity. Contrast that with their neighbours’ son who “had been an enthusiastic bully since he started first grade”, and his awful father, and really horrendous grandmother.

This is a great portrait of a less familiar America.