Thomas Buddenbrook on the beginning of the end in Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks: Happiness and success are inside us. We have to reach deep and hold tight. And the moment something begins to subside, to relax, to grow weary, then everything around us is turned loose, resists us, rebels, moves beyond our influence. And then it’sContinue reading “Decline”

More death (and love)

And while we’re on the theme of death and the Great War, here’s Joanna Cannan in High Table: Look on, Cynic, your dozen years, to the time when such words as these will be explained away as wartime hysteria, when such a marriage as is planned now, in this brief, pink-and-white haven, will be dissolvedContinue reading “More death (and love)”

Seven Ages of Woman

She had a beautiful mother, serene in a sepia photograph who cried over every debt; her father was happy-go-lucky, a charmer and very bright; a Methodist grandfather killed himself; her grandmother’s hair grew down to her knees. Cycling the three miles to grammar school in a uniform sizes too large with a second-hand hockey stickContinue reading “Seven Ages of Woman”

Saying goodbye

The flesh drained back on to the pillow so his nose poked up surprising, sharp, a single flower placed beside his head, below his green-pyjama’d shoulders – fragile, like a child laid lovingly to sleep. There were signs his nose had bled – otherwise he looked tidy and so still. His eyes were closed, his mouth fixedContinue reading “Saying goodbye”

A Dying Song

‘The hills are alive’ he sang every day as he dressed, until he was breathless and pumped full of drugs. In the end his heart couldn’t cope – perhaps it was all for the best. He carried on working and lived with habitual zest – tenacious of life, he’d never call illness a friend. ‘The hills areContinue reading “A Dying Song”