Michael Amherst

What is the point of fiction if not to expand horizons?

While Ian McEwan’s recent piece in the Guardian is not expressly termed a treatise on the value of art, it is hard to see it otherwise. What is the use of fiction, what can a novelist tell us of, ‘why the Industrial Revolution began, or how the Higgs boson confers mass on fundamental particles…?’ he

Having it both ways

A new paperback edition of The Stranger’s Child is released today. Michael Amherst reviews the book. The failure of Alan Hollinghurts’s The Stranger’s Child to make the Booker shortlist has been met with widespread shock. Yet arguably the greater shock is why the book ever received such rave reviews in the first place. The examination of

Creative writing courses made me a better reader

As I came to the end of my English degree I applied to several universities for further study on Joseph Conrad, along with UEA for their creative writing programme. Owing to a misunderstanding with my tutor her reference arrived at East Anglia late and I was told my application would be deferred to the following

More than just a pretty boy

There seems to be something of a fashion at the moment in panning James Franco’s literary debut, Palo Alto. If you are looking for motives they are not hard to find: Franco is nauseatingly prolific – not only did he host this year’s Oscar ceremony but he was also nominated for his performance in 127