“Mantissa”

John Fowles’ “Mantissa” is a child of its times. Written in 1982 at the peak of popularity for modernist literary theory, deconstruction, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, it is a novel that attempts to explore the relationship between author and text both in itself and also as the theme for the narrative within the book. In some… Read More “Mantissa”

Is there room in the market for a new literary journal?

The idea is simple enough. A bi-annual literary compendium containing prose, poetry, and literary non-fiction. It would be produced in paperback book not pamphlet form, and probably run to about 200-pages long. Significantly, the bulk of the content would most likely come from writers capable of crafting high-quality material yet who are struggling to get… Read More Is there room in the market for a new literary journal?

Snippet

She now realised she had moved through her adult life with an increasing sense of self-obligation; she was operating against a default equation which meant every time someone changed one of the variables she was forcing herself to re-solve the algebra. Having left the draft to mature for a small number of months, I’m currently… Read More Snippet

“Unknown Soldier”

I confess that in the beginning I struggled with Seni Seneviratne’s “Unknown Soldier”. There was something about the two voices in the first section that didn’t quite work for me, and I wonder if using the photographs (from the third section, ‘Album’) proved as much a straitjacket as an inspiration. However, in the second section,… Read More “Unknown Soldier”

“Nocturnes”

One of the things at which Kazuo Ishiguro excels is writing first person characters who have flawed views of themselves; they believe they are perfectly rational, charming, intelligent, while all the while they are something other. And he depicts them in such a way as to allow us to see both sides, permitting us to… Read More “Nocturnes”

“Spring”

Of course after “Autumn” and “Winter” it should be no surprise that Ali Smith’s “Spring” is stunning. It won’t be for everyone, of course; some people will struggle with the language, the tone, the sheer vibrancy of it. And one of its major topics – refugee detention – is hardly a comfortable one. But it… Read More “Spring”

“Border Districts”

If you were to put much of the text of Gerald Murnane’s “Border Districts” into something like ‘Grammarly’, I dread to think what ‘readability’ score it would get. Almost everywhere the language used is convoluted, repetitive, arcane, self-indulgent. The sentences are so long you need a bus to get from one end to the other.… Read More “Border Districts”

“Warlight”

I guess I should have expected something tremendous from the person who wrote “The English Patient”, and “Warlight” is exactly that; a tremendously evocative and well-written story from Michael Ondaatje. It evokes the murky and dangerous post-war world where people are still coming to terms with what freedom means – and what freedom cost. Someone… Read More “Warlight”