'Kismet - fate, destiny, quadr, karma, doom, wyrd - across the world these similar yet subtly different concepts have sprung up as responses to the same anxiety. They reassure us that whatever good or evil may befall is somehow meant to be: intended, written in the stars. Kismet is the opposite of luck. Luck is happenstance, the random fall of the dice. Kismet is destiny ordained by a higher power...'
In this essay I look at the Grimms' tale 'Maid Maleen', a fairy story that delves unusually deeply into the trauma caused by abandonment and suffering.
'I was in South Wales, standing on a real hill with a real stone in my hand, imaginatively inhabiting a children’s book I read for the first time in 1965, which has stayed with me ever since.'
Written for the academic collection 'New Fairy Tales', 'Gnomes' is a short story for adults with touches of mild horror and black comedy. Harold and Evelyn live blameless lives in their neat home on Laburnum Avenue - until the neighbour over the road plants his front garden out with gnomes.
A personal and emotional response to Mervyn Peake’s work for children, especially 'Letters From a Lost Uncle' and 'Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor'.