Howard Norman

Howard Norman's memories of the strange incidents of his life compose his memoir. In 2003, his family rented their house to a poet, who killed her son and then herself in the Normans' home. Norman, his wife and daughter decided to continue living there, giving a certain weight to the title of his memoir, I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place.

But his book begins in a very different place, with the story of Norman's childhood, a bookmobile and a swan.

The latest addition to a body of work that includes six novels, a short story collection, and editorship of several folk tale anthologies, I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place is just the right sort of read for those who usually take in non-fiction with a grim reluctance, as if it were cod liver oil. I was drawn by its promise of a memoir structured around five "incidents of arresting strangeness" in the author's life. I was not disappointed.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.