7 Following


Fortysomething, photographer slacker, working in IT, living in Greenwich; failed polymath; drinks and eats too much, reads too little...

Diaspora City: The London New Writing Anthology

Diaspora City: The London New Writing Anthology - Nick McDowell, John Berger, Efe Okogu, Fern Spitzer, James Fellows, Ursula Barnes, Ben Okri, Sandra Danby, Tony Clelford, Toby Litt, Richard Tromans, Maggie Gee, Iain Sinclair, Aydin Mehmet Ali, Charles  Buchan, Ambalavaner Sivanandan After nearly three years of living next-door to a library, it was about time I actually joined; I have this renewed fervour for reading all of a sudden. So, earlier this week when I found myself working from home to avoid an audit in the office I popped along with identification and asked to join up. My local library is a fairly pokey affair – the patrons outnumbered the staff three to one and the one member of staff seemed surprised to find so many of us there. Apparently it takes a while to type my name into a computer and print a membership card, so I was invited to "look around" while I waited. Once I'd finished, I looked around again (taking in the children's section this time for some variety) until the lady called my name. Of course, now I'd spent so long 'looking around' I felt uncomfortable just leaving with my new membership card. To have hung around for 30 minutes and not even come away with a book might imply I was wasting her time. Luckily, near the desk with a rack of 'Recommended Books' and on it was an attractive anthology of new and exciting London authors. Never mind that I already had a to-read list of over 100 books, or that published in 2003 none of them would be particularly new anymore, part of my unwritten contract with the librarian was that I had to take a library book.

Diaspora City's The River Underground tells the story of Husman, a Gambian cleaner on the Underground. He embarks on an unexpected rebound relationship with a girl who strikes up a conversation with him. Maggie Gee's The Artist describes the artist Isaac who paints and repairs the house for Mary and her husband. There is obviously something special about Isaac, and while Mary recognises that she can't quite connect with him. Charles Buchan's To Effervesce is a quirky story, more so in the telling than the content. Each letter of the alphabet is taken in turn to tell the story of Arnauld's life as a waiter, although why it suddenly stopped at V was beyond me. And Ursula Barnes's delightful tale of an old man who decides to help out in the local school, helping immigrant children speak English, in Every Colour Under the Sun.