So many famous writers in this issue from 1949! Laurie Lee, Frank O’Connor, Anna Kavan, Patrick Leigh-Fermor and Jacquetta Hawkes! Had John Lehmann’s ship come in? Frank O’Connor’s ‘The Landlady’ is one of the most readable stories Lehmann published in Penguin New Writing, and it’s not gloomy, or cruel to women, or about tight-lipped privilege. … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 37: The embrace of the weird
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
For all you Agatha Christie and devious poison-plot detective novel addicts, here's a review of Kathryn Harkup's A is for Arsenic. The Poisons of Agatha Christie. More belladonna and cyanide than you can shake a stick at.
This is a neat and lush little ghost story, barely long enough for a novella, printed in 1941 in an austere wartime edition. In 1945 the story was made into a film of the same name, starring James Mason, and Margaret Lockwood as an entirely new character. The story is the work of an established … Continue reading Osbert Sitwell, A Place of One’s Own
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’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