Quote of The Week

"One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it's too late."

Pablo Picasso



The featured item in “Writing Life” this week is a long article on how to write memoir, originally given as a talk at a Hofstra University writers’ conference.

This speaks straight to my present activity and obsession, which is to write a (good) memoir by myself and about myself. At the end of 2015 I published what I called a “non-memoir” called Lucky Man, which consists entirely of personal essays. Although I am proud of the book, it is something of a cheat. It reveals very little that is personal, and gives no narrative at all.

So with the encouragement of a publisher and the focus provided by my own advice on memoir writing (which I only just rediscovered) I am trying to write a “real” memoir. Eight chapters are done so far, and I am only up to 1986. My life was more complicated than I had thought.

If you have ever thought about memoir writing, read this article first. You will find it either inspiring or annoying.

The selected essay this week is on bulls, bullfighting and the tradition of the Fete Votive in the south of France. It should speak for itself.

This site will be quiet for at least three or four weeks, while I travel from France to England to the United States. Wish me luck.

Just a reminder of my two newest books.

Not Quite a Stranger: Essays on Life in France is a collection of more or less humorous pieces recording my many visits to that beautiful and baffling country over a period of fifty years.

Lucky Man is the non-memoir that replaced the memoir I had originally intended to write, and am writing now. Various fragments of my life – mostly essays and miscellaneous non-fiction – had been accumulating like Radon gas in the basement for many decades. These I arranged into thematic sections on learning, teaching, working, travelling and so on, in a kind of biographical tapas that the curious reader can dip into at any point, according to taste.

More details at Amazon.com and on the Books and Audio page of this site.

Topics of the Week

Writing Life: “It’s All About Me,” a comprehensive article on how to write a memoir.

The Featured Essay: “A Lot of Bulls” reports from the south of France on the continuing popularity of entertainments featuring cruelty to animals.


My previous podcast site has been disabled, for reasons known only to the deities who control the Internet. In the near future all my broadcasts will be available ad podcasts on iTunes and Google. Watch this space for details.