The Novel as a Fizzing Bomb in Your Brain

Hazlitt drops in on Nick Harkaway, née Nicholas Cornwell, at his London local. Discussed: his new novel Tigerman, writing as a compressed statement of identity, and the anxieties of paternal influence.

Is it helpful for you to get out of your house?

Yeah, I find it quite difficult to write in silence. Lots of writers get into this thing where if a sparrow farts outside their window—“Oh my God, person from Porlock! I can never finish Kublai Khan.”

You’re referring to your father, right?

Yes, I might conceivably be thinking of him. An enormous number of people feel that way. I counter it by making sure there’s ambient noise I can deal with. Here is perfect. It’s very dangerous to sit at those tables by the window [where the ceiling is angled down]. Everybody can hear your conversation down below, and you can hear theirs. I sat at one of those tables doing some work, and there was a woman discussing in extremely indiscreet terms the details of her divorce at the table below, and I wanted to go down there and say, “Lady, I now know everything I didn’t need to know about your sex life with your ex-husband.”

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Home Theatre Review: “A Film With Me In It” starring “Black Books” star Dylan Moran!!! No I’m not actually in it but thanks for thinking I could be!!! This is a dark comedy from the UK about an out of work actor and screenwriter who suffer a series or terrible tragedies IN ONE NIGHT!!!! How many deadly accidents in a row can one man take?!?! You would think that if someone came into your home and suffered a terrible accident that cost them their life, that you would be able to handle it. Just call the cops and they will take care of everything. But what if it wasn’t just one person who accidentally kicks the bucket in your comfy little home? Now what? Still think the police will see it all as a coincidence? What about 3 people dying in your home on the same night? Or 4? I don’t know. I lost count. Point is, DON’T DIE!! Watch this movie instead. It could save your life!!! Living is good unless you hate movies. Then maybe this is a bad idea. Writer and co-star Mike Doherty crafts a brilliant, smart, dark, and crazy story. I truly recommend giving it a shot. For you Netflix instant streaming fans….IT’S AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW!!!! Or just get it from Netflix in general. Check your local library. Is there still a Blockbuster nearby? Hmm, go check and then rent this movie. That’s all I’m going to say. I need to go accident-proof my house!! If every accident in this movie was a STAR then I would say it deserved every star it got!! Does that makes sense?

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‘Ghosts are the Fucked-Up Dead’: An Interview with David Mitchell

The author of Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks and, most recently, Slade House, on supernatural forces and the ice in his heart.


Often ghost stories are based on a strange premise: If you’re dead, but you’re still around in some way, presumably you can go off and do whatever you want. Why stay at the same house all the time? Surely there are much more interesting things to do with your afterlife. Here, you’ve offered a rationale for why your supernatural beings hang around.

Yeah, rationale is important, and the further off the path of realism you go, the more you’d better keep your house in order regarding motives. Nothing kills disbelief like inconsistency and absurdity. My research in real-life psychics and paranormal investigators suggests that [hanging around] happens because ghosts are the fucked-up dead; they don’t know they’re dead, and they stay around because they think they have the right to be here, and these damned people are invading their spaces and just ignoring them. Or they’ve been bent out of mental health by guilt or by abuse or by unfinished business.

There’s an obvious tie to your other books right at the beginning—the moon-grey cat that appears in every one of your novels appears, and he’s an ex-cat: his eyes are being licked at by flies.

That’s a message to my über-readers to say there’s going to be no help here. Don’t rely on this magic cat fairy to come along and save the day—it’s gone. Cats don’t really die, but as long as you think it’s gone, that’s mission accomplished.

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