mon 06/12/2021

book reviews and features

Peter Robison: Flying Blind review – a story of decline and crawl

John Carvill

Thomas Pynchon’s saturnine '70s novel Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) begins with “[a] screaming [that] comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.”...

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Lucie Elven: The Weak Spot review - a cryptic modern fable

Izzy Smith

For most of us, fluttering our eyelids to convince a loved one to cook dinner is harmless meddling. Complimenting our boss on their new coat before asking for a promotion is necessary cunning. For...

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Sarah Moss: The Fell review - a dark night on the hills

India Lewis

Sarah Moss’s new novel is a slim snapshot of a moment of fear and danger in the year of Covid. That year when judgement and recrimination ruled, and neighbourly feeling was in short supply. It is...

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Claire Tomalin: The Young H.G. Wells review – days of the comet

Boyd Tonkin

In late 1894 an unknown 28-year-old science tutor and wannabe writer finished a story in his dismal lodgings just north of Euston station. Divorced, after a brief, calamitous marriage to a cousin...

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Devin Jacobsen: Breath Like the Wind at Dawn review – the disturbances of the Civil War

Jessica Payn

How do you imagine the wind at dawn? Biting, brisk, peremptory – a kind of summons as another day begins? 

For Les Tamplin, wife-beater, sheriff, father to three sons, it is a detective...

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Ruth Ozeki: The Book of Form and Emptiness review - where the objects speak

CP Hunter

“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” Ruth Ozeki’s latest novel takes its name from a Buddhist heart sutra...

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Mark Bould: The Anthropocene Unconscious review - climate anxiety is written everywhere

Jon Turney

Our everyday lives, if we’re fortunate, may be placid, even contented. A rewarding job, for some; good eats; warm home; happy family; entertainment on tap. Yet, even for the privileged, awareness...

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Stuart Jeffries: Everything, All the Time, Everywhere - How We Became Post-Modern review - entertaining origin-story for the world of today

Daniel Baksi

In his 1985 essay “Not-Knowing”, the American writer Donald Barthelme describes a fictional situation in which an unknown “someone” is writing a story.

“From the world of conventional signs...

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Selva Almada: Brickmakers review – men dying for love

Boyd Tonkin

To make bricks you torment the soft, moist and fluid material of clay and sand in a prison of fire until it becomes dry, hard and unyielding. In Selva Almada’s rural...

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Mary Wellesley: Hidden Hands review - passion in the parchment

Boyd Tonkin

Outside Wales – even, perhaps, within it – few students will have run across the verse of Gwerful Mechain. The free-...

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MacMillan Christmas Oratorio, LPO, Elder, RFH review – a new...

The shadow of the cross falls over James MacMillan’s manger. You may come for his work’s consoling, even transporting, beauty and mystery. It’s...

Measure for Measure, Sam Wanamaker Theatre review - this pro...

Measure for Measure may be the quintessential Shakespearean “problem” play, but just what has earned it that epithet remains a quandary....

Hanslip, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Stoller Hall, Mancheste...

Manchester’s oldest chamber orchestra has been gathering a new audience at the Stoller Hall in Chetham’s School of Music since that auditorium...

Antony Sher: 'I discovered I could be other people...

The energy of Antony Sher, who has died at the age of 72,...

Music Reissues Weekly: Once Upon A Time In The West Midlands...

The picture seen above doesn’t have quite the same resonance as Art Kane’s 1958 shot A Great Day in Harlem which brought 57 American jazz...

Blu-Ray: Le Samouraï

Jef Costello, the lone contract killer in Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), carries out the murder of the boss of a night club....

Zingari/Tosca Suite, Opera Rara, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review...

Two major composers took Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies as the subject for two very different...

Album: Madmess - Rebirth

Madmess are a Portuguese power trio who are based in London. Muscular and (mostly) instrumental stoner...

Life of Pi, Wyndham's Theatre review - visually ravishi...

When the Canadian Yann Martel went to India as a young adult backpacker he fell in love – not with one person but with the rich imaginative...

Starstruck, Scottish Ballet review - smart, sassy and cinema...

How do you picture Gene Kelly? Most likely in his effervescent screen persona, either as the burly ex-GI of An American in Paris, or as...

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