I am and always have been a voracious reader. I’ve gone through numerous phases – Sci Fi, Fantasy, Crime Novels, what is now known as YA, and commercial and literary fiction. I also enjoy biographies, history and philosophy, and writing about writing. My favourite poets are Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats.
My books are on Amazon and Goodreads, and both replicate posts on this blog. I am the current chairman of the Hong Kong Writers’ Circle, I am sometimes asked to review books for the Hong Kong Review of Books, and the Hong Kong Free Press publishes some of my rants. I am also a (somewhat grandiosely titled) Professional Reader at Net Galley.
But although I’m a bookworm, I spend more time outside the house than in it. I’ve done blue ocean yachting, high-altitude trekking, and made some progress at aikido until I did my back in. I also torture my neighbours and the local feline population with my guitar talents.
All of this needs money and time, so instead of whoring myself out to a day job, I run my own computer consulting company in Hong Kong, where I’ve lived for my adult life. You can read about that here.
Fiction is fuel to our greatest faculty, the imagination. To imagine something is to create an image of it in our mind. Be it James Bond extracting himself from the clutches of SPECTRE, Raskoinikov committing the perfect murder or Frodo succumbing to the lure of the one ring, fiction enlivens our world with images that are of it, yet not of it. Because those images are so intense, they deepen and enliven our understanding of the world: they take us to cultures, places and times we could never visit where we meet the people we’ve always most wanted or feared to meet. We suspend our belief only to gain deeper insight, we laugh only to have reason to cry, and we rejoice in the power of the word.
My father was a rock-climber and mountaineer, my mother a sailor: I got the bug early. For me, the natural world – not the “environment” – is a place of fear and promise, of escape and hope. I am constantly redefining my relationship with it, yet, looking out of my flat at the edge of the world’s most crowded square mile, I reflect on the huge portion of the world’s urban population who have no such relationship, whose lives are confined to four concrete walls and a smartphone.
If that sounds like a term from the same lexicon as “military intelligence,” think again. “Philosophy” as a word carries a whole lot of baggage, but “critical thinking” is an activity which enables us to lead better-lived lives. When something is wrong, yet you can’t quite put your finger on why; when a speech offends you even when nothing offensive was said, when you’re asked to fill out a whole load of forms which request the same information time and again, that’s your faculty for critical thinking engaging. Mine engages a lot, and you can find out why on the blog.
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