Category Archives: Biography

The Sleeping Car Murders by Sebastien Japrisot (Gallic)

IN translation we get a cottage garden style of English not the sprawling, homogenizing white sauce of the ruined mansions of quasi English language. The cathedral once constructed by Dickens is reduced to a semi in suburbia, a bungalow on … Continue reading

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Bleak House by Charles Dickens, part three (Penguin)

BY page 593 this gargantuan torture wheel of a plot is starting to turn.  The perimeter is on the horizon. We have a literary variation on a Swiss watch with all the little interlocking wheels starting to spin. Beyond the … Continue reading

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Bleak House by Charles Dickens (part two) Penguin

IN the hands of a more radical director than the BBC employ, say someone Asian, Bleak House might have been less boisterous and bleaker still. Grandpa Smallweed, Guppy and Tulkinghorn might be even more mendacious, the latent sexuality as headed … Continue reading

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Bleak House by Charles Dickens (Penguin) part one

“LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather.” EVEN in the opening lines above, the style is strikingly modern, almost casual, just taking aim as it were, Hemingway might have approved. … Continue reading

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Coming soon…a masterpiece

Been quiet for a while; re-discovering a masterpiece, review coming soon…watch this space…

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Summer by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

SO, we have the younger genius brother from hell, the father’s mistress who is struck dumb. This is the fourth in the quartet (I presume) and like the other volumes the opening salvo takes no prisoners. “As in, so what?” … Continue reading

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In Love with George Eliot by Kathy O’Shaughnessy (Scribe)

“The train had shuddered to a halt. Clatter of doors-opening and shutting, noise echoing in the huge vault of Euston station, a smell of oil-flavoured steam and soot. A last door opens…”  THERE might be a warning on this: do … Continue reading

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The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas by Daniel James (dead ink)

“This book is dangerous” Brash, original, smart… star reporter Daniel James chases down the elusive recluse that is Ezra Maas, cult artist, vanished megastar…this is the kind of book destined, I hope, to find a cult following of its own, … Continue reading

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Van Gogh and Britain (Tate)

“I’m gradually beginning to turn into a true cosmopolitan, meaning not a Dutchman, Englishman or Frenchman, but simoply a man” Vincent Van Gogh February 9, 1874. THIS  book goes with the brilliant exhibition at the Tate Britain, but sometimes a … Continue reading

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Milkman by Anna Burns (Faber)

“The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died.” THE prose is wonderfully joyful and rambling. The Guardian refers to this winner … Continue reading

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