Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Guardian Book Awards 2010

A couple of weeks ago The Poplar Tree attended a meeting at the Deansgate branch of Waterstones to find out more about becoming a judge on the Guardian Book Awards panel. The newspaper asked for members of the public to volunteer as judges and pick out the best new author from a shortlist of 10 books. Around sixty people turned up to the Deansgate branch, which had seven judging places up for grabs. To qualify you had to submit an entry form which included a short review (200 words) of a novel published within the past 12 months. Unfortunately The Poplar Tree wasn’t successful. For anyone who likes Chuck Palahniuk’s work, here is the short review I submitted:

Pygmy is a thirteen-year-old Communist agent hailing from an unknown territory somewhere in Eastern Asia. His homeland is seeking vengeance on America for alleged acts of terrorism, and he is sent on a state mission, while masquerading as a foreign exchange student, to implement ‘Operation Havoc’.

Pygmy doesn’t have the meteoric twist of Palahniuk’s other works such as Fight Club, or the back-to-front ending of Survivor, instead the culmination of Operation Havoc is played out over 20 or so pages of increasingly loose pidgin English. As Palahnuik struggles to collect the strands of his novel together, many unanswered questions remain and,  although this may be typical of Palahnuik’s style, in this instance, the effect sadly distances rather than intrigues the reader. Continue reading


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Filed under Books/Novels/Authors, Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions

The Manchester Literature Festival unveils its 2010 lineup…

You might have noticed some lyrical and mysterious posters appearing on inconspicuous walls around Manchester – The Poplar Tree has spotted a few in the Northern Quarter – it can now be revealed what they refer to (as if you haven’t already guessed by the above)…The Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) has unveiled its 2010 lineup and it’s bolder and bigger than ever before. Staged between the 14th – 25th October, the MLF promises to showcase unknown and established authors during events such as the Bugged Blog launch, to the ‘World of Moomin’ read by Sophia Jansson. And judging from its stylish new brochure, this year’s festival has something for everyone, young and old, poetry lovers or bookworms alike. Continue reading

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Elephant Spoon Thieving – The Poplar Tree debuts in print format (online)…but it’s a start

Last week The Poplar Tree submitted a short story to The Summer of Bugged a WordPress blog that asks readers to eavesdrop on conversations and write a piece of literature based upon what is heard. The official rules are that the eavesdropping must take place on July 1st, (for more specific details click on this link: For me, nothing of interest filtered through the air on this day, but I continued to listen out on my commute to work and when I went to the Whetherspoons near Manchester Town Hall for tea (the one with the nice toilets). I heard some interesting and bizarre things, the creme de la creme of which I whipped together in a short story entitled ‘Elephant Spoon Thieving.’ The nice people at Bugged Blog have published the story on their website – it’s great to see my name in ‘print’ again after three  years. So thanks Bugged Blog. ‘Elephant Spoon Thieving’ can be read here: it begins on page 2 of the PDF

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Filed under Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions