John Simmons, Rob Williams & Tim Rich (ed.)
Common Ground: around Britain in 30 writers
Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2006, 914.104 COM
Common ground is a celebratory tour around literary Britain. Discussing the relationships between writers and the places where, or about which they write, and commenting on the way both writer an place mutually enrich each other, Common ground also asks what is "the influence of the places that nurtured those works - on ourselves and our subjects?"
Common ground is certainly not an attempt to document every author who has ever become heavily associated with a particular place in Britain, and it is not until you learn more about 26, the not-for-profit literary organization that produced this book, that you begin to understand why it features such an eclectic mix of some the most famous of all British writers, and a number of considerably lesser know writers. For a start, the book is written by 30 different members of the 26 organization, each of whom was responding to an organization wide challenge to write a piece about an author-place relationship that meant something special specifically to themselves. As a group, 26 are concerned with words in general, and many of their founders come from the worlds of advertising, journalism and communications, and so they are perfectly happy to include lyrical musicians such a Van Morrison or the somewhat obscure Stuart Murdoch of the band Belle & Sebastian as "writers". The result is a varied and engaging discussion of both writers that you are familiar with, and those you are almost certainly not. Not only is Common ground a pleasure to read, it just might renew some of your enthusiasm for different literature and music too.
Contributors of note include Ali Smith (winner of the Whitbread Novel Award 2005) and acclaimed novelist Niall Griffiths.