We’re well past the Labour victory in the post-war general election now, heading towards a Conservative revival in 1951. Notable Conservative novelist Angela Thirkell wrote about this period of British history with loathing and resentment. John Lehmann writes about it in his Foreword to this issue in terms of a strong desire to earn a … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 34: Life in 1948
The Croquet Player (1936) by H G Wells is set in an alternative universe where croquet and archery have the same exalted sporting status as tennis. It's a novella of serious frivolity, and seems to be most highly regarded now for its apparent foreshadowing of the Second World War. Given its publication date, after six … Continue reading H G Wells does Lovecraft
Some time ago in Penguin New Writing John Lehmann asked for funny stories to print. He also suggested that both women and men would be leaping to their desks at the end of war to write the fiction they’d been bottling up during the war years. None of this is showing in what he’s publishing … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 33: Getting over the war
More duds for your enjoyment and avoidance, the most recent in an occasional series of hatchet jobs. Links to others in the series are at the end of the page. The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It (2008), by Tilar J Mazzeo After reading this biography, my book … Continue reading Do Not Read These At Home
John Lehmann opens this issue’s Foreword by apologising for the sudden disappearance of the coloured plates. They’d vanished in issue 31, presumably a last-minute or force majeure decision, because in this issue the reasons are discussed. All the good colour printers in Britain are booked up for months at a time, so there is no … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 32: still in 1947
I was picking mulberries this weekend, which was timely considered that I'd also organised a cookbook theme week over on Vulpes Libris. I've reviewed a remarkably comprehensive work on home preservation, replete with canners and kraut hammers.
I’m a bit behind the pack in reading Simon Morden’s novel Down Station (2015). I’m not sure I’m going to stay on board for its sequel, The White City, published in 2016, but there are a lot of very good things about this London fantasy novel. 1: It isn’t about London. It starts there, in … Continue reading Simon Morden’s Down Station
My feelings about the prevailing mood of the previous issues of Penguin New Writing have been borne out by the Foreword in this issue of autumn 1947, by John Lehmann himself. ‘Your Editor has had a dream. A mad, fantastic dream, not to be credited at all. [there follows a paragraph of escalating impossibilities] That … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 31, autumn 1947