Essay | Dostoevsky and Poor Folk by Patrick Maxwell

Wilfred Owen captured the national spirit best when he talked of the ‘drawing-down of blinds’, surely the most succinct depiction of English melancholia. The English spirit – distinct from of Britishness, though also a part of it – is one of deep decline under the shadow of former empire. It is the spirit of T. S. Eliot’s line ‘winter’s afternoon | In a secluded chapel’ in ‘Little Gidding’; of the quiet introit sung by an evensong choir, backing away into the cathedrals’ dingy corners […]

Review | Not Working by Josh Cohen

At the start of Not Working, Josh Cohen reflects on the experience of caring for a friend’s rabbit, Rr. Expecting to develop some relationship with Rr., Cohen, a practicing psychoanalyst, finds himself frustrated with the rabbit in the same way that small children are, when confronted with babies or domestic pets who prove indifferent to their affections. Over time, however, he develops a begrudging respect for the fluffy insolent […]

Review | In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

People, generally speaking, do not want to read a memoir on abuse. It’s not that readers do not care for the subject; in fact, caring is what makes it hard. Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House is noteworthy for many reasons, but for this most of all: Machado will keep you reading when you most want to turn away. Three hundred or so pages packed with emotional manipulation and physical terror is, unsurprisingly, a challenge for readers […]

Interview | Jane Draycott on sound poetry, translation and poetic process

‘It’s dark in here and forest green: Britannica, sixteen oak trees in a London living room, / the little girl, my mother, in the bookcase glass. / Italy, Ithaca, Izmail, Japan, each page a mainsail, / turning, HMS Discovery – none of the rivers of southern Italy is of any great importance.’ – Jane Draycott, ‘Italy to Lord’. British poet Jane Draycott is interested in sound poetry and collaboration. Her translation of the Middle English poem Pearl won the Stephen Spender Prize […]

Review | Jake Wood-Evans: Relic at Discovery Centre, Winchester

Relic is a new body of work by British artist Jake Wood-Evans, presented by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, in collaboration with Unit London, at the Discovery Centre, Winchester. Comprising 17 of his works in total, the show draws upon themes of mortality, the formation of memory, and religious experience. Wood-Evans cites a variety of influences from the European canon of art, including J.M.W Turner, Peter Paul Reubens, and Titian […]

Review | Old Food by Ed Atkins & Dark Satellites by Clemens Meyer

Want to feel young? Fitzcarraldo Editions – whose small roster of authors includes two of the last five Nobel laureates for literature – is less than five years old. Its first book, Matthias Enard’s Zone, was published in August of 2015, which makes the independent publishing house exactly three months younger than Mad Max: Fury Road […]

News | Imtiaz Dharker leads “emergency poetry” event for the planet

Poet Imtiaz Dharker is to lead a host of writers during a day of ‘non-stop emergency poetry for the planet’ in February. The event, Verse Aid: Poems for the Earth, is presented by Poets for the Planet in association with The Society of Authors. Eco-themed workshops and a ‘Poem-a-Thon’ and will be followed by a […]

Review | Machines Like Me and The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

For fans of Ian McEwan’s writing, 2019 presented two rough-cut diamonds: Machines Like Me and The Cockroach. Not without their flaws, as some critics noted, they are nonetheless highly enjoyable and sure to leave even the ultra-demanding and fastidious reader hankering for more. The novels differ in more ways than one. Firstly, there’s size: Machines Like Me clocks in at a reasonable 306 pages, while The Cockroach, a much slimmer work […]

Fiction | Exposition by Nathalie Léger tr. Amanda DeMarco

She enters. She is roused by anger and reproach. She bursts onto the right of the image as if it were a backdrop masked with curtains. One hand clutches a knife against her waist, which gleams obliquely across her belly. Her face is cold, her mouth thin, lips tight, eyebrows knit, her gaze is clear and hard, her hair is slicked into two little severely parted plaits. The knife, whose handle disappears into her balled fist, vibrates at the very center, nearly absent from it […]

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