Ishiguro’s new novel provides the opportunity to take a second look at Kathy from Never Let Me Go

I haven’t read Kazuo Ishiguro’s very recent novel, Klara and the Sun yet. I’ll probably wait (at least) until it’s out in mass market paperback, as I tend to do with new novels. But, although I’ve no immediate plans to read it, I’ve been enjoying the buzz around its release, which has led me to read several reviews, including that by Vox’s Constance Grady. As I’ve written before, I’m sceptical about the value and the future of the book review, but Grady is one of a handful of reviewers whose work I still read regularly.

She finds Ishiguro’s newest work…


The first six issues

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…


The deceptive attraction of overkill

I have moved this post to my own site. Sorry for the inconvenience of an extra click.

I’m now sending out a newsletter, Talk about books, every two weeks, containing exactly book discussion and criticism. Follow the link to sign up.


I have moved this post to my own site. Sorry for the inconvenience of an extra click.

I’m now sending out a newsletter, Talk about books, every two weeks, containing book discussion and criticism. Follow the link to sign up.


Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

I’ve never before done a retrospective review of the year just ended, but 2018 was unusually significant for me. It was in April that I eventually recognized (having sceptically read Blake Ross’s post on the subject two years earlier) that most people, unlike me, can form mental images. I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the mind, by memory and the nature of thought. It’s quite a biggie to discover, many decades on, that there’s a fundamental fact about these phenomena that nobody’s ever told me about — because they naturally assumed I already knew.

My responses to this…


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Motivation is a matter of sticks and carrots. Obvious, isn’t it? I’ve known this in theory for as long as I can remember but I’ve got within shouting distance of retirement age without feeling it as something which is of any practical importance to the way I live my life. Whatever the “carrot” may be, I can’t see it because of my aphantasia. I suppose that the theory is that you shouldn’t see the stick because it’s behind you and you’re looking forward towards the carrot. Instead, I guess, you’re supposed to be aware of the stick from experience (and…


Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash

In the eight months or so since I found out that aphantasia exists, and that I’ve got it, my perception of many things to do with my own behaviour has changed significantly. I believe I’ve got a better understanding of why I’m so bad at planning, prioritizing and scheduling; I accept that my episodic memory isn’t nearly as good as I’d assumed it was; and I’m now aware that my self-conception differs from the self-image presumably held by people who can visualize. …


Verbal and non-verbal working memory

Six weeks ago, I wrote that aphantasia can look a bit like ADHD. Since then, I’ve been trying to find out more about the resemblances, and maybe even connections, between the two “conditions”, one a disorder and the other not (even) a disability. I found some significant part of what I was looking for recently when a Reddit user named margobisbee posted a link to this YouTube video in which Russell Barkley, a recognized expert on the subject of ADHD, speaks about executive function impairment. According to Dr Barkley, there are at least 5 different types of executive function which…


Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

Update: Thanks for visiting this page. You may find my follow-up post, “Aphantasia’s Effect on Executive Function”, to be more useful. In it, I discuss a video by Dr Russell Barkley (an acknowledged expert on ADHD), in which he examines the link between a visual imagination and the particular executive function known as nonverbal working memory.

My first post to mention aphantasia, nearly five months ago, recounts how I asked to be referred for assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorder, having wondered on and off over a period of 10 years whether I might have that condition. (It turns out that…

Art Kavanagh

Writer of (mainly short) fiction, criticism/discussion and other stuff; I discovered in my late 50s that I’m aphantasic https://www.artkavanagh.ie

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