Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Simplify Then Add lightness

This post has been coming for a while now, but I've kept putting it off with an absolute tsunami of excuses, prevarications & mental sleight of hand. yet it still was there a marked date that just needed recognition. Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will be painfully aware of how it has limped along in the recent past and that I've struggled to maintain any consistency with its output. This has been due to a lot of different factors that I won't go into as they are really just a catalogue of excuses hiding the actuality that maintaining The Parrish Lantern, in the way I'd like is no longer feasible, in fact the conditions in which I once sang out from this blog no longer exist. This was finally brought to a point that I could no longer  ignore & I came to realise  that the "marked date" had finally arrived when I was thinking about this new year and my aims, which was beautifully & succinctly summed up by a quote I saw on Pinterest :

In light of this I thank all of you who have been on this journey with me & apologise for the impromptu stops along the way, but this is now the end point of The Parrish Lantern, journey. So I now say goodbye, wish you well on your own continued travels and hope to see you around this world of books that we all have created a part of. May your new year bring you all you need & at least some of what you wish for.

Parrish Lantern 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Yugoslavia, My Fatherland – Goran Vojnović

What would you do if after years of believing one of your parents was dead, 
you then found out that they were alive & that your other parent had lied?

What would you do if you found out that one of your parents was a fugitive war criminal, one of those people you see on the news photographed smiling next to a mass grave?

Would you want to know more?

Would you want to meet the person?

How would you react to this individual, this fugitive, this killer --- your parent?

When Vladan Borojević Google's the name of his father Nedelko, a former officer in the Yugoslav People’s Army, supposedly killed in the civil war after the decay of Yugoslavia, he unexpectedly discovers a dark family secret. The story which then unfolds takes him back to the catastrophic events of 1991, when he first heard the military term deployment and his idyllic childhood came to a sudden end.

Seventeen years later Vladan’s discovery that he is the son of a fugitive war criminal sends him off on a journey round the Balkans to find his elusive father. On the way, he also finds out how the falling apart of his family is closely linked with the disintegration of the world they used to live in. The story of the Borojević family strings and juxtaposes images of the Balkans past and present, but mainly deals with the tragic fates of people who managed to avoid the bombs, but were unable to escape the war.

Vladan’s tale starts the day his father is seconded, this is also the day that an eleven year old Vladan deems his idyllic childhood is over. From this moment his father becomes an ever decreasing figure in his life till the day his mother claims news of his death and he disappears from his life for what he thought would be forever.

In 213 pages Yugoslavia, My Fatherland, documents the effect of the war in the Balkans. Through Vladan’s personal family crisis, we follow a nation’s past and its attempts to understand, reconcile and forgive itself collectively and as individuals. This is also a tale of identity as a nation and Vladan try to work out who they are and how that perception fits in to a modern state.

Goran Vojnović (b. 1980) graduated from the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television in Ljubljana, where he specialised in film and television directing and screen-writing. The film Good Luck Nedim (he co-wrote the script with Marko Šantić) won the Heart of Sarajevo Award and was nominated for the European Film Academy’s Best Short Film Award in 2006. He has directed three short films himself and his first feature film Piran/Pirano premiered in 2010. Vojnović is considered one of the most talented authors of his generation. Film magazines and newspapers regularly publish his articles and columns. His bestselling début novel Southern Scum go home! (2008) reaped all the major literary awards in Slovenia, has been reprinted five times and translated into numerous foreign languages. A collection of his columns from a Slovene daily newspaper and weekly magazine have also been published as a book under the title When Jimmy Choo meets Fidel Castro (2010), which was translated into Serbian.

Dr Noah Charney is a professor of art history at American University of Rome and University of Ljubljana. He is also an award-winning writer for numerous publications, including The Guardian, The Atlantic, Salon, The Times and Esquire. He is the best-selling author of many books, including The Art Thief and The Art of Forgery. He lives in Slovenia, where he collaborates with local authors and publishers on books such as this one.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Japan, 1936. An old eccentric artist living with seven women has been found dead - in a room locked from the inside. His diaries reveal alchemy, astrology and a complicated plan to kill all seven women and to use parts of each women to create an ideal women. Shortly afterwards, the plan is carried out: the women are found dismembered and buried across rural Japan. By 1979, these Tokyo Zodiac Murders had been obsessing a nation for decades, but not one of them has been solved. A mystery-obsessed illustrator and a talented astrologer sets off around the country - and you follow, carrying the enigma of the Zodiac murderer through madness, missed leads and magic tricks. You have all the clues, but can you solve the mystery before they do?

The author challenges you to solve this mystery, as this book belongs to the popular honkaku, “orthodox” or “authentic” sub-genre of murder mysteries, unlike psychological thrillers this genre tends to focus on plotting and on following the trail of laid clues. The idea is that the reader is not lead astray by the writer, but placed in the same setting as the book’s protagonists, given the same opportunities to solve the mystery - in fact there are several points that Soji Shimada actually stops the tale and tells you that you have all the clues necessary to solve the puzzle and challenges you to do so before the book’s own heroes. Honkaku writers tend to shy away from any form of social criticism, setting themselves apart from writers such as Ryū Murakami, Natsuo Kirino and Shuichi Yoshida, hearkening back to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie & Edgar Allen Poe. This style of fiction was predominant around the 1920s and 30s, but had been written since at least 1911, the genre even came to be codified with its own set of rules which were either Knox's "Ten Commandments" (or "Decalogue") (Ronald Knox) or the similar but more detailed list of prerequisites prepared by S. S. Van Dine in an article entitled "Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories" this appeared in The American Magazine in September 1928 and were commonly referred to as  Van Dine's Commandments – in this list the rules of engagement are:

  1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.

 2. No wilful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.

  3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.

 4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering someone a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. Its false pretences.

5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.

6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic book.

 7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much bother for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader's trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded.

8. The problem of the crime must be solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, Ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic séances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has a chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.

9. There must be but one detective — that is, but one protagonist of deduction — one Deus ex Machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn't know who his conductor is. It's like making the reader run a race with a relay team.

 10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story — that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom he takes an interest.

 11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person — one that wouldn't ordinarily come under suspicion.

12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.

13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremediably spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.

14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the Jules Verne manner, he is outside the bounds of detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure.

15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent — provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face-that all the clues really pointed to the culprit — and that, if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying.

16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no "atmospheric" preoccupations. Such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyse it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude.

17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by housebreakers and bandits are the province of the police departments — not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.

18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to hoodwink the trusting and kind-hearted reader.

19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plotting and war politics belong in a different category of fiction — in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemütlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader's everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.

20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author's ineptitude and lack of originality. (a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect. (b) The bogus spiritualistic séance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away. (c) Forged fingerprints. (d) The dummy-figure alibi. (e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar. (f)The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person. (g) The hypodermic syringe and the knock-out drops. (h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in. (i) the word association test for guilt. (j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unravelled by the sleuth.

Although written in 1928, for the most part these rules appeared to be adhered to and The Tokyo Zodiac Murders would with utmost grace be welcomed amongst the classics of this period, in fact such is the complexity of plot and the sheer elegance of the solution to this book, Shimada’s writing would be in the forefront of any of the writing to have come out at that period of time. I’ve chosen to write very little about the book itself and more about its genre, my reasoning is that to reveal too much about the plot itself would be breaking the rules by revealing details, thereby giving the reader a head start over the books detectives and negating the veracity of the challenge and, although I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and have even advised my wife (who is a big Agatha Christie fan) to give it a go, once I started researching the backstory this appealed to my sense of history and added a detail that to me at the very least enhances the reading experience.

 For any fan of The Golden Age of Detective Fiction and writers such as Margery Allingham (1904–1966), Anthony Berkeley (aka Francis Iles, 1893–1971), Agatha Christie (1890–1976), Freeman Wills Crofts (1879–1957), R. Austin Freeman (1862–1943), Michael Innes (1906–1993), Philip MacDonald (1900–1980), Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957), Josephine Tey (1896–1952), Anne Hocking (1890–1966), Edmund Crispin (1921-1978), Cyril Hare (1900-1958), this book will be an instantly loved addition to their library, anyone who is a fan of the  modern exponent of this style writers such as Sarah CaudwellRuth Dudley EdwardsPeter Lovesey and Simon Brett, or of the television series Murder, She Wrote, will also find delight in the plot detail, the elegance in which the solution is revealed and in the challenge set by the author to be beat his own detectives.

Born in 1948 in Hiroshima prefecture, Soji Shimada has been dubbed the 'God of Mystery' by international audiences. A novelist, essayist and short-story writer, he made his literary début in 1981 with The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, which was shortlisted for the Edogawa Rampo Prize. Blending classical detective fiction with grisly violence and elements of the occult, he has gone on to publish several highly acclaimed series of mystery fiction, including the casebooks of Kiyoshi Mitarai and Takeshi Yoshiki.

 He is the author of 100+ works in total. In 2009 Shimada received the prestigious Japan Mystery Literature Award in recognition of his life's work.

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders is part of Pushkin Vertigo, a crime imprint. Starting by Pushkin Press in September 2015 the imprint will publish crime classics from around the world, focusing on tours-de-force works written between the 1920s and 1970s by international masters of the genre, with spine-tingling jackets designed by Jamie Keenan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

National Poetry Day 2015

Since 1994 National Poetry Day has engaged millions of people with poetry through a range of live events and web-based activities for people throughout the country. Such a variety of poetry is written and read that each year the day is given a new theme, in order to highlight particular poets

National Poetry Day 2015 is today (08/10/15) and the theme is Light. The Poetry Society and Southbank Centre have once again assembled a team of Young Producers aged 18-25 who will curate a day of illuminating poetry readings, workshops and installations. 

National Poetry Day Live will see an afternoon of free readings will take place in Royal Festival Hall, London featuring performances from some of the UK’s biggest and newest talents in poetry and spoken word, including Karen McCarthy Woolf, Michael Symmons Roberts, Rachel Rooney, John Hegley, and more. Working with Jaybird Live Literature, there will be a special evening event featuring new work by a range of contemporary poets who will examine what’s illuminated and what stays in the shadows. and styles of poetry. 


Be part of National Poetry Day & think, act,love, live & dream like a poet. The day is a chance to break with the tyranny of prose for 24 hours by sharing poetry in every conceivable way, with the hashtags


#nationalpoetryday and #thinkofapoem.

Contains Strong Language!!!!!

Contains Strong Language is a major season celebrating the disruptive power of poetry, centred around National Poetry Day on 8 October.
The BBC is putting poetry at the heart of the schedules across its services, with new commissions from many of our major poets.
You can view the trailer below, along with details of just few of the highlights - for more details check out the full schedule or read the BBC press release.

My Brilliant Image - Hafez

I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!