Review | In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

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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

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'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

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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...

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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 [...]

Review | Machines Like Me and The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

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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

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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 [...]

Review | The Dressing-Up Box and Other Stories by David Constantine

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David Constantine’s fifth collection of short stories, The Dressing-Up Box and Other Stories, is ostensibly about loss, conflict and loneliness. His characters are driven to the edge as they struggle to engage with the world and must deal with their suffering. Yet, throughout the collection, the author clings to the promise of hope during turbulent times [...]

Review | Fairview at the Young Vic

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Fairview is an innocuous title for a play. It has the ring of a sleepy American backwater, a kind of every-town. The curtain comes up and we are faced with the ground floor of a suburban house. The walls are orchid pink, the dining chairs gleaming white and, in the centre of the stage, Beverly (Nicola Hughes) is peeling carrots. She lip-synchs and dances along to the song playing on the radio, then adjusts her makeup in front of an imaginary mirror hanging on the fourth wall [...]

Review | The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada

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Picture a large office, staffed with hundreds of employees. Each worker has their own cubicle, placed in long rows throughout the space to make a corporate honeycomb; their heads are quietly buried in their work. They’re next to each other, but not touching or talking. Their corporate workspaces embody the paradox of the cubicle: a part of something, but also completely isolated [...]

Fiction | “Smack” from Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

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The following text is an extract from the story “Smack”, taken from Julia Armfield’s debut collection Salt Slow, published by Picador: 'The jellyfish come with the morning – a great beaching, bodies black on sand. The ocean empties, a thousand dead and dying invertebrates, jungled tentacles and fine, fragile membranes blanketing the shore two miles in each direction. They are translucent, almost spectral, as though the sea has exorcised its ghosts [...]'

Essay | Kafka & Camus by Jeffrey Meyers

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It is odd that the two book-length studies of Albert Camus’ The Stranger (1942), by English Showalter and Alice Kaplan, do not discuss the profound influence of Franz Kafka’s The Trial (1925). Other critics have emphasized, denied or deplored this influence. Herbert Lottman notes that while writing his novel Camus 'had read and reread Kafka, whose work seemed to him prophetic, one of the most significant of our time.' The critic Jean Paulhan - thinking of Hemingway’s simple sentences [...]

Review | Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

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Elizabeth's Strout's bestselling debut, Amy and Isabelle, announced the arrival of a serious talent. Her second, Abide With Me, went one better. With 2008's Olive Kitteridge she moved from novels to a trickier form: the cycle of interconnected stories. It was that rare kind of book that can reasonably be called a masterpiece, and it won its author the Pulitzer prize [...]

Review | Not Like Their Mothers: Ambai & Uhart

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This autumn, Archipelago Books published two short story collections in translation: A. Ambai’s A Kitchen in the Corner of the House, translated by the late Lakshmi Holmström, and Hebe Uhart’s The Scent of Buenos Aires, translated by Maureen Shaughnessy. Ambai’s and Uhart’s collections reveal each author’s range as a storyteller [...]

Interview | Leo Dixon on Death in Venice at the Royal...

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Stuart Martin Leo Dixon on Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House At only 23 years old, British dancer Leo Dixon has already begun an impressive...

Review | Werther at the Royal Opera House

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Massenet’s Werther makes a welcome return to the Royal Opera House in the third revival of Benoît Jacquot’s 2004 production. Based on Goethe’s Die Leiden...

Interview | Keith Coventry: The Old Comedy

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Eric Block Keith Coventry: The Old Comedy This month sees the opening of UPSTONE SOHO, a new gallery in the heart of Soho. Its inaugural show is...

Review | The Intelligence Park by Gerald Barry at the Royal...

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The Royal Opera House seems to be celebrating the career of Gerald Barry this season. In February they are staging his latest opera, Alice’s...

Review | Don Pasquale by Donizetti at the Royal Opera House

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Don Pasquale by Donizetti is a frothy comedy – or at least it should be. This new production at the Royal Opera House by...

Review | The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House

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Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte returns to the Royal Opera House in the seventh revival of David McVicar’s incredible production. There is good reason that this...

Essay | Reflections on The Brothers Karamazov by Patrick Maxwell

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In his masterpiece, Enemies of Promise (1938), Cyril Connolly distinguishes between two different styles of writing, which he terms as the ‘Mandarin’ and the ‘Vernacular’. In the former group: Edward Gibbon, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce; among the latter: William Hazlitt, George Orwell, and Christopher Isherwood. Fyodor Dostoevsky is a writer of neither groups [...]

Interview | Cecilia Brunson Projects Founder on I Am Awake by...

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Eric Block Cecilia Brunson Projects Founder on I Am Awake by Feliciano Centurión Cecilia Brunson opened her eponymous Bermondsey-based gallery in 2015, providing a much needed European...

Review | I May Be Stupid But I’m Not That Stupid...

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‘Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world, our own, we see it multiplied...’ Selima Hill is a unique voice in contemporary British poetry, as the title of her latest collection — I May Be Stupid But I’m Not That Stupid — implies, there is more to her than meets the eye. Her poetry is eclectic and electric; it cartwheels through juxtapositions and leaps of logic [...]

Review | The Night of the Long Goodbyes by Erik Martiny

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The Night of the Long Goodbyes, Erik Martiny, River Boat Books, 2020, 282pp, $17.95 (paperback) Erik Martiny’s The Night of the Long Goodbyes is a hugely...

Essay | Vonnegut’s ‘Black Humor’

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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 [...]

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