But maybe the optimal page size is larger than I thought

Image for post
Image for post
“Woman lying on a couch looking at her mobile phone”, by Supriya Bhonsle, via Mixkit

Last summer, I wrote a post claiming that PDF is better than ePub, even on small screens. I argued that, though screen sizes vary widely, from 5" phone screens (or smaller) to 27" desktop monitors and above, most people don’t want to read a book or long document in a window that’s much different in size or shape from a typical book. I had been looking for the optimal, one-size-fits-all dimensions that would be readable on any sized screen, and I concluded that 4" by 6" was probably the best fit. …


The first six issues

Image for post
Image for post

It’s now ten weeks since I started a new email newsletter, Talk about books, and I’ve just sent out the sixth issue: I intended to send one out every two weeks and I’ve found it quite manageable to stick to that. I’m aiming at a fairly in-depth discussion of books, stories and other writing, which usually means that I have to reread whatever it is that I’m writing about. …


Man reading on tablet
Man reading on tablet
“Man sitting in front of a fire reading from a tablet”​ by Supriya Bhonsle, via mixkit.co

In the middle of 2017, I started an email newsletter. It was called “Recommended short fiction on Medium” and the aim was to send out a weekly email which listed three short stories, published here on Medium, that I thought were worth reading. You can still see the residual traces of this newsletter in some of my old posts.

Even at the time, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea. Email seemed like old technology that had been overtaken by sleeker alternatives. People were already getting too much of it: even if they voluntarily signed up for more, they weren’t…


Work desk with a computer, books, coffee and snacks, by Kika Fuenzalida
Work desk with a computer, books, coffee and snacks, by Kika Fuenzalida
Work desk with a computer, books, coffee and snacks by Kika Fuenzalida via Mixkit

During the week, I found myself mulling over two or three posts that I might write at the weekend and post on my site. One was a reaction to the announcement that Bookshop.org has brought forward its United Kingdom opening and is now operating in partnership with independent UK bookshops and a book distributor. This would be a follow-up of sorts to my post from last weekend, “Who needs independent booksellers?”

The second was prompted by a blog post by Drew DeVault about Gemini, a hypertext protocol that is much simpler and more straightforward than HTML. Drew believes that the…


Cutting the final tie to Facebook

Image for post
Image for post
Microsoft Teams (image links to Teams site)

For ages now, WhatsApp has been my last remaining toe in the Facebook camp. All 3 of my sisters and a handful of friends that I particularly want to stay in contact with use it. But I’d really like to make a decisive break with all things Facebook. I deleted my Facebook account itself (then barely 18 months old) over three years ago. At the time, I believed I could continue to use Messenger to keep in touch with some of my former Facebook friends, but it turned out that the Facebook help page that had held out this possibility…


Sally Rooney, short story writer

Image for post
Image for post

Update 15 May 2020: In addition to the three stories discussed below, another short story by Sally Rooney is now available online, free to read. It’s “At the Clinic”, which was published in The White Review in 2016. It features the two main characters from Rooney’s second novel, Normal People.

Sally Rooney’s two novels to date, Conversations with Friends and Normal People, have been a phenomenal publishing success, so it’s worth reminding oneself that she first attracted attention as a short story writer. Shortly before the publication of Conversations with Friends, I saw that her story “Mr Salary” had been…


Why Litsy might not be a good fit for me

Image for post
Image for post
Logo from Litsy.com

Two years ago, I posted a piece titled Goodreads and the self-published author. I had joined Goodreads towards the end of 2015 because I’d just self-published an ebook and I’d read online that Goodreads was the place to go to promote it. (Though I’ve always been a reader, I hadn’t heard of Goodreads till then, and I don’t think I’d have been interested but for the fact that I had an ebook to promote.) Shortly after that Medium post, I asked Goodreads to delete my author profile, having in the meantime signed up for Litsy to see how well it…


Unless you want to (and I’ll bet you don’t)

A very wise blog post by Fiona Voss is getting some attention over on Micro.blog (a site that I’ve been using as an alternative to Twitter for the past 15 months). It’s “A blog is not a commitment”, and here’s a taste:

I’ve seen people who said the reason they haven’t started a blog is because they know they’d abandon it and feel guilty. I’ve heard people dismiss the very idea of blogging, saying that it serves no purpose except to make bloggers feel guilty for not posting often enough. …


Going deeper than a book review

Woman sitting at computer desk, typing on keyboard
Woman sitting at computer desk, typing on keyboard
Woman … typing on keyboard by Kika Fuenzalida, via MixKit

Since I wrote recently about the drawn-out death of the book review, I’ve found that I have rapidly shrinking patience with review-type writing about books and literature. I’d rather be reading the books themselves than reading about them. All the same, I still think there’s an important place for writing about books, just so long as it’s a bit deeper and more involved than the typical standard book review.

I don’t want to make extravagant claims for my own writing in that respect but for what it’s worth, I have been posting, at first here on Medium and more recently…


I wrote these two short verse paragraphs at the beginning of August 2019. It felt as if they were waiting for a third to round them off so I put them aside and, I’m afraid, forgot about them. No third paragraph has turned up, so I suppose this can best be described as a work-not-currently-in-progress.

Ahistorical Survey

Marvell’s Cromwell, 1654

Escape the mindscape, see it for
what it is: topography cut loose from place,
like velocity without position. What we want
has always been a contradiction:
to stand outside, beside, and watch ourselves
immersed in doings, goings-on — events,
dear God, events. …

Art Kavanagh

Writer of (mainly short) fiction, criticism/discussion and other stuff; aphantasic; antimasculine male, no pronoun preference https://www.artkavanagh.ie

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store