The Old Man and the Sea


A Whole Life

The following is from the Man Booker shortlist site for 2015.

A Whole Life

Translated by Charlotte Collins

Published by Pan Macmillan, Picador

Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps, where he arrives as a young boy taken in by a farming family. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn’t ask for her hand in marriage but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. When Marie dies in an avalanche, pregnant with their first child, Andreas’s heart is broken. He leaves his valley just once more, to fight in WWII – where he is taken prisoner in the Caucasus – and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven. Like John Williams’ Stoner or Denis Johnson’s Train DreamsA Whole Life is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. It looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.

Robert Seethaler is an Austrian living in Berlin and is the author of four previous novels. He also works as an actor, most recently in Paulo Sorrentino’s Youth. 

Charlotte Collins studied English at Cambridge University. She worked as an actor and radio journalist in both Germany and the UK before becoming a literary translator, and has also translated Robert Seethaler’s novel The Tobacconist.

Last of the Amazons






One of the backdrops for Shantaram is a building site that has spawned the slum where many of the characters live. An article on the BBC website gives voice to some of the workers behind India’s construction boom. You can find the article here.


If you like Shantaram then you might like Badventuring too…it’s a blog by Tom Hartland, a young man from Wolverhampton who took off around India and beyond on a bike and wrote about his adventures along the way (there’s a link here)

“The best stories are born in adversity, honed in hardship and steeped in survival.

Let’s stop being second-hand story-tellers and get busy crafting our own tales!“

It’s ok lads. He’s fully recovered now….



Mr Phillips

How often do men really think about sex?

Every 7 seconds? That would be 514 times an hour.

19 times a day?

Or once a day?

Interesting piece here explores the data and the methodologies.


The Dry

The Beacon

psychologically and existentially penetrating

The Siege

Some useful background reading on the siege of Leningrad here.

The Utopia Experiment


Picture by Sandy McCook – Inverness 30th March ’07 Dr Dylan Evans with his Utopia Experiment based in Culbockie on the Black Isle.

By the end of the book Dylan has come to a very different view of the state of the world and the value of ‘progress’. Many of the ideas he starts to share are picked up and explored in more depth in Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker‘s book Enlightenment Now. There’s a fairly lengthy review of the book that summarises some of Pinker’s defence of enlightenment here.

utopia barn TUE 00197803

Adam TUE utopiaDM_468x312



Our only little piece of Utopia at Tim’s house


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

A satisfying trip down memory lane for most Rotters though Teacher John felt that it needed more commas.

If re-reading the book is not quite the experience you remembered from 35 years ago, then what do you make of the TV series? Here’s where Arthur Dent saves the day by pressing the improbability drive.

Curiously, despite sitting in stony silence through the film adaptation in 2005, watching the trailer again makes me think we were maybe a little harsh?