Ti tum ti tum ti tum: Chic Sport Shirker

Colin Burrow, 7 October 2021

If one suspects, at times, that one’s eye is being led on a dance, it is at least always a merry one, and Christopher Ricks is a fine enough critic to worry whether he might have crossed the invisible...

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Proust hasn’t found a voice here: he is a person writing out family legends and self-analysis rather than a novelist. Still, we do have the beginning of an answer to the astute question: ‘What...

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Richard Wright wasn’t interested in the structures of support or mutual aid that enabled black people to survive as a collective. He was drawn to outcasts and desperados who had fallen through...

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Dead Ends: ‘Not a Novel’

Christopher Tayler, 7 October 2021

The archaeological quality of Jenny Erpenbeck’s imagination allows her to come at East Germany from unexpected angles. She writes of learning to roller-skate on a street that was free from traffic...

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Screwdriver in the Eye: David Keenan

Paul Mendez, 7 October 2021

It’s difficult to grasp exactly what all this means or what it’s for. The novel’s 808 pages make a mockery of straitened attention spans, and the book is provocatively underedited. David...

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No Such Thing as Women: Reproduction Anxiety

Madeleine Schwartz, 23 September 2021

It’​s hard not to read the title of Mieko Kawakami’s first novel, Breasts and Eggs, as some kind of provocation. I keep seeing them in front of me – a perverted breakfast, breasts...

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Fake it till you make it: Indexing

Anthony Grafton, 23 September 2021

The index gave its users formidable power to find and quote adages and examples, narratives and poems, scriptural and patristic texts, whether or not they had actually read the full works they cited. That...

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Who’s the real wolf? Black Marseille

Kevin Okoth, 23 September 2021

Self-determination, Claude McKay continued to insist, meant much more than economic independence: it was driven by a hunger for freedom among people like the peasant farmers he had known as a boy in the...

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I couldn’t live normally: What Sally did next

Christian Lorentzen, 23 September 2021

Normality has totemic significance in Rooney’s writing: her characters either think of themselves as ‘special’ – that is, smart and sensitive but stranded among normal people –...

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There isn’t any inside! William Gaddis

Adam Mars-Jones, 23 September 2021

Gaddis shows an intimate knowledge of fine art, in terms of both aesthetics and techniques, obviously an asset in a novel that deals with the forging of paintings. His blind spot, unfortunately, is literary...

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Short Cuts: Beckett in a Field

Anne Enright, 23 September 2021

What would Beckett sound like in a language he could not speak, but which might be intuited in his use of English? It would be like bringing the work back to a time before it was started. It might make...

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Is this what life is like? ‘My Phantoms’

Nicole Flattery, 9 September 2021

Gwendoline Riley’s landscape is the North of England: bars, motorways, housing estates. In her novels, there is often a monstrous father, and an awful mother too – though the latter is more...

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Motherly Protuberances: Simon Okotie

Blake Morrison, 9 September 2021

As a detective you have to watch your step, in order that your operations remain clandestine, and no detectives in literature have ever watched their steps as literally as Okotie’s two detectives....

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With a Da bin ich! Properly Lawrentian

Seamus Perry, 9 September 2021

‘Mind’ is never a good word in D.H. Lawrence: the whole problem of modern life was that there was far too much mind in it, operating ‘as a director or controller of the spontaneous centres’...

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Utterly Oyster: Fergie-alike

Andrew O’Hagan, 12 August 2021

To write a book for money is a forgivable exercise – Fergie, from a certain viewpoint, has never done anything in her life that wasn’t for money – but the chief horror of her book is...

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Claire-Louise Bennett doesn’t specify the kinds of stories that women might be desperate to cast off, but she doesn’t need to. Relationships, career, children, ‘creativity’. Whether...

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No Shortage of Cousins: Bowenology

David Trotter, 12 August 2021

The pleasures as much as the perils of adaptation led Elizabeth Bowen to suppose that the fundamental condition of human experience is a feeling of ‘amorphousness’ which prompts the ‘obsessive...

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The Book of Disquiet is almost about philosophy; its tone is often casual and then deliberate. Pessoa loves aphorism, and enjoys long, loose ruminations. He writes beautifully about weather; it seems constantly...

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