What do we even want from coming of age? Do we want to be wise, mature people, or do we just care about ticking off a list of pre-agreed markers: homeowning, or a long-term relationship, or whatever it is? Ultimately, you can be a child, you can be the most immature and undeveloped human, and have achieved all those things. So obviously it’s a problematic term. Obviously, Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate touchstone for literary coming-of-age for most people [...]
When we were splattered with freckles and tied up in pigtails, we picked sharp rocks from the garden and pushed them into each other’s wrists, our flesh tender and white like peeled crabs. I remember the way our wounds looked, mushy and filled with pieces of grit. ‘Now we are blood brothers,’ I said. She looked at me from behind her nose. 'Blood sisters,’ she pouted. We got changed on the back seat of the car every Wednesday night as my mam drove us from school [...]
Set in Ireland in 1858, seven years after the potato famine, The Wonder tells the story of an English nurse who is hired to spend two weeks observing an eleven-year old girl, who, her parents claim, has not eaten for months. Based on the almost fifty cases of ‘fasting girls’ - of women who claimed to be surviving without food for months on end in Europe and North America between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries - Donoghue’s novel anticipates the invention of anorexia [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
I had made her so unhappy that she had developed a sense of humor, which she certainly didn’t have when I married her . . . This line from Bluebeard’s narrator remarks on another kind of humor, the black humor Vonnegut is best known for. Its source is helplessness and despair. He explains: Laughter or crying is what a human being does when there’s nothing else he can do [...]
Chris McCabe is the National Poetry Librarian. In 2013 he was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and his works include numerous poetry collections, including Speculatrix (2014) and The Triumph of Cancer (2018). His new poetry anthology Poems from the Edge of Extinction, published by Chambers this year, collects poems from endangered languages [...]
As it's Halloween, The London Magazine team have been discussing the nature of horror in fiction, and why we are so attracted to reading it....