The ghosts of Pyongyang

The Korean People’s Army put us on a bus and took us away. All I had were my clothes and my passport as I took a seat on the right and got comfortable for the ride to destination unknown. This is a little like we’re going to prison, said the Frenchman to my left. Except…

One for the Monet, one for the road

Picasso, Dali, Renoir, Degas, Monet and Manet — I have gazed in awe at all of them. Reflections of moonlight dappling across a river, mist-like tutus of nubile ballerinas, ants crawling across melting faces held up by sticks — it hardly matters whether the artist was going blind, a bit of a pervert or made…

My only son to be drafted? Over my dead body…

Originally published in the Bangkok Post Sunday on April 10, 2016. So it has come to this: Army chief Teerachai Nakvanich has told his subordinates not to murder or torture each other. That this even needs saying is a national disgrace. Private Songtham Mudmad was murdered by fellow army recruits last weekend, and while he…

Jimmy Carr on offence

The best defence is showing you’re not offended, and for Jimmy Carr the easiest way to do that is to laugh. Carr knows a thing or two about offending people — it’s bound to happen when joking about everything from disability and dwarf shortages to car crashes. No subject is off limits for the English…

New year, new look, new everything

Welcome to the new michaelruffles.com. For now it just looks new. But other new things are coming. Together we will make the internet great again.

All this fuss over The Martian…

… and the world has forgotten a similarly (completely different) novel that is totally scientifically accurate (if there were sparrows on Mars or time-travelling assassins) set on the Red Planet. While Andy Weir’s excellent book and Ridley Scott’s excellent movie are being read and watched by millions, the plight of the Paranoid Androids in their…

A Game Of Clones: A pitch to publishers everywhere.

Looking for the next Song of Ice and Fire? Well, fret not, you’ve found it. Here are the forthcoming dozen violent, sexy and confusing time-travel thrillers starring the Tempus Fugitive himself, Justin Thyme. They’ll be written as soon as a publisher gets in touch and waves a massive advance my way.

A few uncensored thoughts about Dorian Gray…

The Picture of Dorian Gray has always been, for me, a disappointing novel. Oscar Wilde is one of my favourites, and his importance should not be under-estimated, but there is a distinct dearth of great works from the man. (There are reasons or excuses for this, and he did die young, I know, I know….

Look, possums, a few thoughts on Handling Edna

Now, I’ve never particularly been a fan of the most famous Australian woman, Dame Edna Everage, but ever since I borrowed My Life As Me from the Reservoir Library I have been a fan of Barry Humphries. So, during Borders’ going-out-of-business sale I picked up a copy of his unauthorised biography of Dame Edna. The…

Malled by Caitlin Kelly … a review

The best place to read this book is a shopping mall. To be more precise, read it in a coffee shop on a public holiday when they run out of the food you want, be pushy and try to con you into buying overpriced food you don’t want which you don’t end up buying, and…

A tale of two Discworld novels, part 2: The Last Continent

Maybe it was homesickness, but with more than a dozen Discworld books on the shelf in front of me, I had to choose the one that is set in a remote, dusty island prison that has a few things in common with ‘Straya. And I loved it.