Fiction | A Botanical Garden Movie by Jay Merill

I am standing by the edge of the ornamental fish pond. Late Friday. The water isn’t spurting now. They must have shut down the mechanism. After I say mechanism I think of my mother and the odd way she behaved when we used to come here. Which was quite a lot, or as she would have put it: regular as clockwork. By the time I was seven or eight I noticed there were certain phrases she loved to repeat. Saying Botanical Gardens out loud made her go […]

Essay | ‘An Era of Maximum Foment’: How Reading My Great-Great-Grandfather’s Prison Diary Initiated Me into the World of Gulag Literature

In 1944 the Soviet Occupation of Romania led to the imposition of a communist regime in the country. My grandmother’s grandfather, Onisifor Ghibu, an independent politician who played a role in the creation of Greater Romania in 1918 and co-founded the first Romanian university in Transylvania, was the first professor at the university he taught at to be ‘purged’ and interned in a provisional prison for his ‘anti-Soviet’ activity. Carted to a prison camp in a wasteland […]

Review | Yes Yes More More by Anna Wood

By the time the protagonist of the final story in Anna Wood’s new collection has been in New Orleans for a few days she finds herself very pleased with the city’s atmosphere: ‘Annie was bewitched by this easy life, so brilliant and simple and busy.’ This bewitchment is also the prevailing mood of the book. In Yes Yes More More life is quite often easy, if only for a moment, and Wood captures the simple, busy lives of the characters at their most brilliant […]

Review | An Idiom in Itself: Ugly Duckling Presse 2020 Pamphlet Series by Sam Buchan-Watts

Sam Buchan-Watts  An Idiom in Itself 2020 Pamphlet Series, Ugly Duckling Presse  Ugly Duckling Presse (or UDP) have over the past two decades fostered a rich and influential poetics culture. Their delectable print publications hark back simultaneously to the historical precedent of the pamphlet as fugitive political-poetical discourse associated with samizdat printing and the Presse’s […]

Interview | Richard Barnett on Wittgenstein, War and ‘the Shadow of Silence’

Reading Ray Monk’s magnificent biography of Wittgenstein, I came across a letter to his nephew, written some time in the thirties, in which he said that ‘[the war] saved my life; I don’t know what I’d have done without it.’ To find a philosopher as perceptive and as unillusioned as Wittgenstein saying that the war had saved his life – and then to find he’d worked out much of the Tractatus while serving as a forward artillery observer, about the most dangerous posting anywhere in the war – stopped me dead […]

Essay | On Stefan Zweig: An Open Letter to English Heritage

The application for a blue plaque in Hallam Street, Central London, to commemorate Stefan Zweig’s residence in the city from 1933–1939, was turned down in 2012. English Heritage argued then that the Austrian writer’s ‘London connections did not appear strong enough’ and that his ‘profile has never been as high in Britain as elsewhere.’ Even at the time, this puzzled many. Zweig had been made so well-known to a new generation of English readers, mainly through […]

Fiction | Ocean Drive by Elsa Court

Elsa Court Ocean Drive It was already morning and time to put on a pair of shorts. But, like an intruder outside the door of our motel room in the middle of the night, the pain in my lower abdomen had been making a fuss since dawn. I found yesterday’s clothes in a pile in […]

Poetry | Pit Lullaby by Jessica Traynor

When we turn off the light and I hold you close / my vision splinters, a mirror that catches / what light there is, throws it back as an untruth. / We are so close to each other here / that full faces never form – just a wisp of hair / settling on a cheek, an eyebrow like a capstone

Interview | Nicky Wynne on St Paul’s ‘Remember Me’ Project

‘Remember Me’ was first set up by St Paul’s Cathedral in May 2020. The online memorial commemorates those who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic and was put in place to support the bereft. The online platform received such a positive response that it was decided there would be a physical memorial at the Cathedral, so that visitors from everywhere, of all faiths and none, could attend to reflect and mourn at a place dedicated to remembering […]

Essay | The Madman and the Dwarf: Van Gogh and Lautrec by Jeffrey Meyers

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90) and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), eleven years his junior, both contracted syphilis and died at the age of thirty-seven. Despite their completely different backgrounds, character and way of life, these freakish outsiders formed a strange friendship during the last four years of Vincent’s life.  They were drawn together by their passion for art, which relieved the agony of their lives.  They respected each other’s work, exhibited together […]

Fiction | The Anthill by Julianne Pachico [Extract]

It’s the faded pink building down the road from the grocery store. An hour by bus from the Metrocable stop. Telephone wires cross the sky, chickens cluck from a nearby balcony, a dog with enormous testicles flees uphill. 1 p.m. Here they come. Chattering busily, streaming through the propped-open door. Ponytails bouncing, shirts untucked and speckled with dust from Tocineta and De Todito crisps. Some are in school uniforms, white socks pulled up to their knees […]

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