Love loves to love love – Dishing out the Valentine’s Day love

It’s Valentine’s Day! I’ve got a big, sloppy Valentine for Dan Rhodes – oh so aptly his latest book is a crop of teeny stories that skewer love and marriage. Dan does both anti-romance and the most exquisite, heartfelt portraits of love and passion – so he’s a winner for both romantics and cynics.

He has written a list for The Guardian of top 10 marriage tales. One of his picks is The Man Who Went Into the West by Byron Rogers :

Writers are weirdoes, and you must never marry one. We don’t come much weirder than the great poet RS Thomas, and this riotous biography is a beauty. Amazingly, he had a wife. Give this a read and imagine how strange it must have been to be married to (or even by) the rhyming vicar of Manafon.

And another reason to lavish love on Dan is he has my equal favourite author website (first equal with Jasper Fforde).


Christchurch Art Gallery shopWhen it comes to music, I give a big smoochy Valentine to Aussie Paul Kelly. A: for coming to play in Christchurch A big plea to other bands and musicians: Come and visit! We won’t bite! We love music. B for some lovely lovesongs like Winter Coat and Give in to my love.

And when it comes to art, I’d like to do a big shoutout for our own Christchurch Art Gallery. They don’t have their gallery, but they keep us in arty goodness. A Caxton exhibition has just kicked off at Central Library Peterborough. There is a great show at the NG Gallery by leading Canterbury artists Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond.

Their blog is full of interesting and quirky art (and life) insights. Plus their fab shop is handily located next to Central Library Tuam (and the Re:START). It has a range of art stuff, but also lots of great gifts, art t-shirts, David Bowie paperdolls and more. Arohanui!

Have a gander at some of our previous posts about Valentine’s Day  – the bright and dark sides:

And share your Valentine – who would you like to give some love too? Who are the authors and artists who ring your bell?

Quirky short love stories

I randomly picked up Anthropology and a hundred other stories and read it all in a lunch hour.  Each of the 101 short stories are 101 words long and cover the same subject – relationships.

The stories  range from the darkly cynical to the bizarre yet moving. Meet Amber who liked to go to supermarkets naked, or Opal and her imaginary horse. Then there is Lola who carved a wooden statue of the speaker only to decide she liked the statue better. Angelique drives the speaker to stick pins in his face, Paris is literally catatonic after her bike is stolen, while one nameless girlfriend can only think of smoking as a past time for her job application.

These stories made me laugh out loud and filled in a bleak lunch hour during a mid week blah fest. I recommend this book by Dan Rhodes to all those with short attention spans who are looking for the quirky.

My favourite author

Gold by Dan RhodesHere’s a question for you – Who’s your favourite contemporary author?
Who do you rush out and buy/or put a hold on – in the sure knowledge that their genius is going to work for you?

Mine is Dan Rhodes. I’ve only mentioned him here once before, as he wrote about the underrated virtue of brevity in fiction.

I picked up his first book Anthropology and a hundred other stories off a book shelf in the central library – totally a case of judging a book by its cover (small, powder blue, stick figure). It looked cute, and it was – 101 stories of 101 words. It could be gimmicky, but the stories were so clever and bittersweet I became a Dan Fan.

MisadventuresSince then, he has written another book of stories, and two novels. The latest is Gold which has a background of pub quizzes (hooray!).  His web site is a good insight into his wit and drollery.

Looking at his literary recommendations I was spooked to find he name checks two of my other favourite books namely Misadventures by Sylvia Smith and The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. What is the common thread that links these authors? Humour, humanity, a sense of the ridiculous, dryness, ingenuity, idiosyncracy, beauty … (and sized at around the 200 page mark).

Check out his web site and the pretend pub quiz where you can win pot noodles and a copy of his latest book (I scored 7/10 – how’d you go?).