Review | Our Death by Sean Bonney

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Sean Bonney died in Berlin last November at the age of fifty, a couple of months after the publication of Our Death. The collection is a follow-up to his well-received Letters against the Firmament, described by Bonney, in an interview with BOMB magazine, as ‘open letters to the poetry community about the political situation in Britain’. Our Death expands on these epistolary poems: loose translations of the Greek poet Katerina Gogou appear alongside other revelatory material in both prose and verse form. The tone is bleak, drenched in premonitions of death, yet utterly gripping. [...]

Interview | Sinéad Gleeson on solidarity in sickness, isolation and empathy

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Jack Solloway Sinéad Gleeson on solidarity in sickness, isolation and empathy   With the UK government currently advising ‘social distancing’ and the country expecting further preventative measures...

Review | Vital Stream by Lucy Newlyn

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For a long time, William Wordsworth had little interest in the sonnet form. ‘I used to think it egregiously absurd,’ he claimed in an 1822 letter to Walter Savage Landor, 'though the greatest poets since the revival of literature have written in it’. If his origin story is to be believed, 1802 was the turning point, when his sister Dorothy read him some of Milton’s sonnets. Struck by their ‘dignified simplicity’ and ‘majestic harmony’, William ‘took fire’, and produced ‘three Sonnets the same afternoon’. He would go on to write no fewer than 523 over the course of his career [...]

Interview | Joe Dunthorne on Cliché, Adulting and Coming of Age

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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 [...]

Fiction | Blood Brothers by Jessica Andrews

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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 [...]

Interview | Emma Donoghue on writing hunger

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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 [...]

Essay | Dostoevsky and Poor Folk by Patrick Maxwell

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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 | 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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Interview | Chris McCabe: Poems from the Edge of Extinction

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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 [...]

Essay | Unmitigated Disaster: The Beatles’ Abbey Road by Kenneth Womack

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The following essay is an extract from Kenneth Womack's forthcoming book Solid State: The Story of “Abbey Road” and the End of the Beatles,...

Kenneth Womack | The Making of Penny Lane

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The following is an extract from Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Later Years: 1966-2016) by Kenneth Womack, published by...

Spotlight III: Influx Press

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The London Magazine has long been a champion of emerging writers and independent publishers, stretching back to the 1950s and 60s, when young writers...

Essay | Shakespeare’s London and the Emergence of the Playhouse

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Today, the idea of the theatre can evoke tradition and history, having perhaps one of the longest histories of all the arts. But when...

Staff Picks | The Best of Gothic Fiction

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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....

Spotlight II: Dostoyevsky Wannabe

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The London Magazine has long been a champion of emerging writers and independent publishers, stretching back to the 1950s and 60s, when young writers...

An interview with Ben Ehrenreich

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Just south of the village, Nabi Saleh, there is a spring. It is called Ein al Qoos or the Bow Spring. Palestinian farmers have...

That Boy by Robert Nazarene

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  He was patient as a dead bird. He perched on the ledge of bottom and rocked.  He was the missed flight. He was silence calmed down. He loved...

Interview with Caleb Femi – Young People’s Laureate for London

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Caleb Femi, a 26 year old teacher and poet from Peckham, has been chosen to be the new Young People's Laureate for London. Femi...

Kiss-Kiss-Kissuni by Frances Park

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Memories. Some lie dormant for decades then suddenly spring awake, fresh as yesterday. I like to think the writer in me brought Kissuni back...

An interview with Southbank Centre Literature Festival’s Ted Hodgkinson

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This October, Southbank Centre will host its 10th Literature Festival, ‘Living in Future Times’. Beginning with a reading of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine,...

An interview with Bernard O’Donoghue

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Bernard O’Donoghue was born in 1945 in Cullen, Co Cork. His latest collection, The Seasons of Cullen Church, returns with a compelling and simple...

The Year of the Pin-Up Calendar by Imogen Cassels

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Excerpts from a previously unpublished sequence of poems named The Year of the Pin-Up Calendar. February there is a white pigeon opened like a book on the...

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