All your life you're dreaming

Peter Parker tags along on some nocturnal excursions; The Tiger Garden: A Book of Writers' Dreams edited by Nicholas Royle, Serpent's Tail, pounds 9.99

A sure way of making people's eyes glaze over is to announce: "I had the most extraordinary dream last night". Yet to the dreamer these nocturnal excursions are extraordinary. They both suggest a life beyond the quotidian and reveal imaginative powers many people would be unable to access when awake. Writers might be thought to have a particularly interesting library of dreams and, more importantly, ought to be able to recount them with skill.

Nicholas Royle had the clever idea of inviting over 200 writers to send him accounts of their dreams. No one was paid and all royalties go to Amnesty International, an organisation which spends much of its time attempting to alleviate waking nightmares. "In a bid to retain the oneiric atmosphere," he writes, "I have allowed those dreams scribbled down in haste to remain...as a result, there will be infelicities of language, there will be syntactical short-cuts, there will be liberties taken which these writers would not dream of taking in fiction." The problem with many contributions, however, is not that they have been dashed off but that they lack style. With some notable exceptions, there is not a great deal here that is interesting as writing. This might not matter if all the contributors were celebrated figures: even the hastily scribbled dreams of Doris Lessing, Will Self, Christine Brooke-Rose, Michael Ondaatje, William Wharton and Hilary Mantel would be worthwhile. There are many more well-known writers here, but an equal, if not greater, number of names unfamiliar outside genre fiction. One would think that writers of SF, fantasy and horror would be particularly good at dreams, but this proves not always to be the case.

In the wonderful introduction to Behold, this Dreamer!, his classic 1939 anthology of dreams and related subjects, Walter de la Mare warned that "waking recollection" of a night's travels into unknown realms "is difficult to translate into those obstinate and artificial symbols, words". Some of Royle's contributors (Nicholas Freeling, Giles Gordon) try too hard, some hardly at all. Fortunately, others have overcome the difficulty triumphantly. Desmond Hogan's recurring dream of Nazi persecution and ghostly children has been made into a beautifully shaped short story; Liza Cody's vision of a hospital where the uniquely warm blood of Sephardic Jews is drained into a central-heating system in order to coddle the premature twins of the Empress of China is very well recounted and authentically bizarre; Patrick McGrath's four sentences about falling into the carcass of a chicken the size of a house is alone worth the cover price.

Jack Kerouac's observation that "the fact that everybody in the world dreams every night ties all mankind together" provides Royle with an apt epigraph. It is reassuring to learn, for example, that even famous people dream of famous people. Robert Browning, Paul McCartney, Eric Cantona, Tony Curtis, Anthony Burgess (with boyfriend), Picasso and Dvork (duetting) and Salvador Dali all put in cameos. Michael Carson and Bernard MacLaverty dream of royalty, while D.J. Taylor dreams of A.S. Byatt, who is unable to return the compliment, dreaming instead of Iris Murdoch. (By way of compensation, Taylor appears in the dreams of the editor.)

Contributors relive unfortunate episodes from their past. Louis de Bernieres returns to Sandhurst; Jonathan Coe is still playing keyboards with The Peer Group. Suspiciously few admit to any sexual episodes - not even Fiona Pitt-Kethley.

"Dreams, alas, resemble far too frequently a tale told by an idiot" wrote de la Mare, "signifying even less than the literature he may reserve for his noonday." While The Tiger Garden reveals less of the creative processes than its publisher claims, it is nevertheless an oddly beguiling, and beguilingly odd, collection.

Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review