What constitutes a really great work of fiction?

We have all done it, set down eagerly to read a new book and come away disappointed after the first few pages. It is not easy to create a gripping tale, but when an author gets it right, the result is priceless. This got me thinking about the characteristics that are actually found in a […]

Storytails

Nick will be reading an extract from his novel, Love and Mayhem, at Storytails on Sunday 26th June 2011. Storytails is a free event featuring readings of short fictional stories from some professional, and some not-quite-so professional writers. Storytails is held on the last Sunday of every month from 3pm at The Drop, beneath The […]

Roof – The Broken-Hearted

Roof, Shelter’s magazine, September/October 2006 The plight of the homeless first really dawned on me when I was twenty-one and living in America. My friend, Justin, and I were fast running out of money and needed work: we’d prepaid the rent on a short-term let – a poky studio flat just big enough to swing […]

A Descent Into Darkness

It was the beginning of 2007 and life ambled along until the darkness struck, creeping up on me like a dense black cloud and then raining down on me, upon which my world was turned upside down for good. I was thirty-four years old, still single, and wondered whether I was destined to be a […]

I Aspire to Be Downwardly Mobile!

William Styron, in his wonderful short story, Shadrach, describes how his young ten-year-old protagonist loved the Dabneys because they were happy to bask in “casual squalor”, possessing a total absence “of the bourgeois aspirations and gentility which were my own inheritance.” This inheritance is ours also, every Briton’s, Thatcher’s free market crusade and promotion of […]

What Does it Mean to be a Man Today?

I’m due to become a father soon, and the following question is becoming increasingly pertinent in my mind: what does it mean to be a man today? As a young boy, I imagined that I’d make myself into a man by being rational, analytical, controlled, steadfast and independent. I would exercise these uniquely male characteristics […]

The Readers

My wife, an artist, took me to a performance of The Readers in Hackney the other night, an avant-garde performance art group led by two contemporary artists Ramon Salgado-Touzon and Jones Tensini. “What do they do?” I asked her dismissively, on the way to the venue. “Well, it’s hard to explain,” she replied. “They’re specialists […]

The Limitations of Lying on the Couch

Human Givens, Vol. 9, No. 2, Summer 2002 I want to recount my experience of psychoanalysis in the hope that I can determine exactly how effective and therapeutic it was for me. Did it alleviate my mental distress? Did it make me feel less miserable? Did it make me happier? I do not conduct this […]

Love and Mayhem, from Chapter 3

The bus he gets on is packed. He scans the bottom deck for an empty seat, then goes upstairs. As he reaches the top, he glances round and spots a vacant aisle seat two from the back. He sits down and almost immediately finds himself drifting into warm reflections about his time with Catherine in […]

Love and Mayhem, Chapter 34

The last few days, Catherine has felt like she is flying: she is happy all the time. And she feels like this now as she squints her eyes, peering through the branches at the blue above her, flying through the sky, over a lush landscape and towards a big city. And suddenly she is in […]