Martin F. Mooney – your perfect literary companion in the Trump-Brexit era.

MMFM 2016 coverProfessor Martin F. Mooney is a fading poster boy of the inner-city elites: Left-leaning, middle-aged and too frisky with his female students, he’s looking for a way out of the university before he’s pushed. Politics seems the obvious next step. This contemporary satire set in Sydney, Australia is your perfect literary companion in the Trump-Brexit era.

Now available at iBooks, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Find out more about Stuart Campbell’s books here.

 

November books: Four novels, four good reads, and four stars each

stuart-head1-bw-hires-portraitOne of the oddest novels I’ve read in recent times is Himmler’s Cook by Franz-Olivier Giesbert. I was swept along by this off-key tale of Rose, the Armenian centenarian, reminiscing about her life from the haven of her Marseille restaurant. She survives the Armenian genocide, suffers multiple sexual predators, becomes great friends with Himmler, and makes plenty of tasty dishes along the way. It’s a clever story and a smart retelling of bits of twentieth century history, but in the end, not entirely satisfying. The difficulty I had was conceptualising Rose as a person rather than a literary device. Perhaps I was looking for too much.

Francis Guenette’s The Light Never Lies took me to British Columbia. This sequel to Guenette’s Disappearing in Plain Sight preserves the central device of the void left by the death of Caleb, husband of Izzy, the glamorous youth counsellor in the remote settlement of Crater Lake. While Guenette’s work is heavy on social issues – mental health, marriage equality, youth suicide, Indigenous rights – it presents a very persuasive reality of fraught relationships, emotional pinch points, gorgeous scenery, and wholesome food you can almost eat off the page. There are a lot of characters to get to know in this longish book, but perseverance pays off.

I read Peter Hobbs’s In the Orchard, the Swallows around the time that the progressive press was fulminating over Lionel Shriver’s remarks about cultural appropriation. I sit on the fence with this topic, having done plenty of cultural appropriation in my own writing. But I felt uncomfortable with Hobbs’s first-person story of a man in the remote border regions of Pakistan recalling his long imprisonment and banal, meaningless torture – the consequence of an innocent indiscretion with a would-be girlfriend in his adolescence. Yes, the text is poetic and lyrical, but I could not drive from my mind the thought, “How would the author know this boy’s experience?” The first-person technique is, I think, the difficulty: It eliminates the distance between the author and the narrator and leaves a taste of implausibility A fine read, nevertheless, if you can ignore the clamour about who’s allowed to write about what.

And this leads me to John M W Smith’s A Crazy Act in Uganda. Smith has solved the cultural appropriation problem in the first two of his Dictator Thriller Series (see also An Unlawful Act in Libya) by interposing himself (or someone like him) as the second-hand narrator of the story. Here, Smith’s literary avatar recounts a story told by an old man about a brutal episode in Idi Amin’s Uganda. Forty years previously the man, a disease epidemic expert, accepts a contract to work on a project to eliminate smallpox; but matters are more convoluted and evil than he expects, and some truly ghastly events ensue. I enjoyed this novella for the tension built into the plot and the cleverly calibrated balance between evil and expediency. There are no laughs to be had here, but I did wonder whether Smith could have injected some of the macabre humour of An Unlawful Act in Libya. But then Uganda’s history is perhaps just too dark for humour.

I write quirky novels about love, betrayal and redemption. You can read about my books here.

Should I rewrite history to make it fit my novel?

Arthur or Martha? © Sara Campbell 2015
Arthur or Martha?
© Sara Campbell 2015

I’ve got a problem.

I’m writing a novel* that includes episodes set in London in 1975. I want one of my characters to go to a concert by Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin at Southwark Cathedral.  The concert actually took place – I was there, and I remember that it was very long and I was very uncomfortable on the cold stone floor.

Trouble is, that concert was in 1972, not 1975.

Or was it? According to a website that catalogues Ravi Shankar’s tours from 1964 to 2012, the maestro didn’t play any concerts in London at all in the seventies. But then I found a copy of the concert program for sale on Italian eBay, and it’s eerily there in black and purple – 1972.

Should I rewrite history? All my  instincts tell me ‘no’ – I was, after all an academic researcher for years of my life, and  fiddling with evidence was on a level with shoplifting.

Is that particular concert so important to the book? Well, yes, but I suppose there is some other emblematic event that I could replace it with.

I’ll keep you posted.

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*The sequel to Cairo Mon Amour (to be published in London in 2017). The working title is Bury Me In Valletta.

Note on the portrait: I call this my querulous guinea pig picture, but somehow it acquired the title of Arthur or Martha?. For non-Australian readers, the origin of the phrase can be found here.

Stuart Campbell’s Books – Newsletter September 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 1.54.11 PMMy September 2016 Newsletter is now out. It’s brief and informative, and I’ll only be sending it out when I have news of a new release or a special promotion. You can get a copy here. If you want to subscribe, click here. I’m not keen on spam, so I’m using MailChip to manage my email list. That means that:

  • You  verify your choice to subscribe.
  • You can easily unsubscribe.
  • Your email address won’t be sold or passed on to anyone else.
  • My email distribution conforms with anti-spam legislation.

Publisher contract for Cairo Mon Amour

CMA redesign coverI’m pleased to announce that my novel ‘Cairo Mon Amour’ has been accepted for publication in 2017 by an international publisher, thanks to the great work of my agent Michael Cybulski and the team at New Authors Collective. Many thanks to those who have supported my efforts in bringing ‘Cairo Mon Amour’ to this point. I’ll be keeping my readers up to date with details of the release date as they come to hand.

‘An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity’ hits Amazon bestseller ranks in UK, Oz and Canada

canada sales 19:8:16A huge thank-you to my  readers and reviewers for helping to catapult An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity up the Amazon UK, Australia and Canada charts. I couldn’t have done it without you!

I hope I can reward your enthusiasm with my next novel Cairo Mon Amour, which will be released on 31 August. There’s a swish website here where you can read about it and even pre-order a copy for the promotional price of 99c.UK sales 19:8:16

Edward Said’s ‘Out of Place’ – a window into the mind of one of the world’s great thinkers

orientalismIt would be no exaggeration to say that Edward Said has been one of the major influences on my intellectual life. I’ve waited sixteen years to read his 2000 memoir Out of Place, which deals with his early life in Cairo, Palestine and Lebanon, and his education in the US.  Said began the book around the time of his leukemia diagnosis, which he explained as the impetus for the writing of this extraordinarily intimate account of his lifelong sense of dislocation. For me, Out of Place provided a key to understanding the emotional foundation of Orientalism, his entirely unemotional and razor-sharp critique of Western conceptions of the East.

I completed my early degrees in Arabic and Linguistics  just before Said’s  Orientalism  turned on its head the very concept of Oriental Studies, and I’ve spent many years pondering the intellectual upheaval that the book triggered in me. Looking back at my research career and my academic writing,  it is now obvious to me how heavily I was influenced by Said’s work – even if that was not particularly clear to me at the time. His ideas have also never been far from my mind  in my later life move into writing fiction.

I’m especially fascinated by the Cairo chapters in Out of Place given that I lived in Cairo in 1973 and 1974 and have just finished my novel Cairo Mon Amour set in that era.

I’m also struck by Said’s ultra-dry irony. Here’s a delicious example from his description of the stuffy English school he attended in Cairo  in the early fifties (along with Michel Shalhoub, later known as Omar Sharif):

“The incarnation of declining colonial authority was the headmaster, Mr. J. G. E. Price, whose forest of initials symbolized an affectation of pedigree and self-importance I’ve always associated with the British.”

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Learn more about Stuart’s books here.

My books discounted or free on Amazon this weekend 16-17 July

weekend discount 2Two of my books are on special this weekend on Amazon. Remember that you don’t need a Kindle to read them – just click on Read with our free App when you download the book.

Click here for The Making of Martin F. Mooney … and here for An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity.

Happy reading!

 

My challenge: Explain my novel ‘An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity’ in 80 seconds

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.25.07 PMMy challenge this week was to make an 80-second video promotion for my novel An Englishman’s Guide to Infidelity. I’ve used a DSLR camera previously for this kind of thing, but I just got an iPhone 6s, and it did the job just as well. I used iMovie to compile and edit the film, and Graphic to make the opening title. The only problem was getting the video file from the iPhone to my laptop because it was too big to email. In the end, I managed to do it with iCloud.

I wrote a script, but on the first few takes I kept peeping it at and my eyes were darting all over the place. I solved the problem by taking off my glasses so that I couldn’t see the script, and had to memorise it instead.

You can find my video here.

Let me know what you think!