A slightly unfortunate phrasing, that: as if she'd written a novel called Death, or Sudden Demise. It's a great novel, and I talk about it over on Vulpes Libris. Go see.
This book has been looking at me for months, sitting on the shelf in an accusing position, in the stack received during and since Christmas and somehow not yet read, because I knew full well it would not be a nice read, not be comforting, not be bedtime reading, not be reading I could prop … Continue reading Ben Judah’s This is London
John Lehmann begins this issue by announcing that he’s dropping my favourite part of the magazine, The Living Moment. The reason for what he rightly calls this ‘freakish editorial decision’ is that the articles suitable for this section —commissioned reportage of changing post-war life — are getting scarce. However, despite this annoying beginning, I think … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 35: The sound of idols smashing
The only things I knew about Angelica Garnett before I read this autobiography were (1) that she was the daughter of Vanessa Bell and her lover Duncan Grant, and (2) that her eventual husband David Garnett had announced that he would marry Angelica on first meeting her, in her cradle. Deceived With Kindness suggests that … Continue reading Angelica Garnett, Deceived with Kindness. A Bloomsbury Childhood
I must be one of the last people among the middlebrow fanciers to have read Beverley Nichols. He is perfect bedtime reading: light, frivolous, witty, of an earlier period so there won't be anything nasty in the woodshed, and unexpectedly moving. I first noticed his existence in a delightfully poisonous parody in Leonard Russell's immortal … Continue reading The shrine of Beverley Nichols: should one worship?
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