Baldwin Road Patches of melting snow on the sodden lawn the other side of the coal bunker we built and demolished. Horses shiver in the field. Dad cycles up the hill on his way to work, haversack on his shoulder, beret pulled low. It’s his last day. Next door but one, the John Denver lookalike is burying something in the garden, watched by his new dog, ears back, tail moving.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the working classes, as portrayed in historical non-fictional literature, were all raised in urban slums, susceptible to the vagaries of cholera and tuberculosis, and generally hungry. The disparity between wealth creation and reward – starkly illustrated in Henry Mayhew’s documentary examination of the poor of Victorian London*, and realised in E. P.
do you remember vienna a city where you can fall in love a city with a thousand churches and a thousand brothels where among pieces of the host scattered on the cobblestones the hooves of horses from the spanish school are women’s high heels The collection from which Romanian writer and poet Nora Iuga’s poem is taken is a sensual excursion through the central European hinterla…
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave’ and this novel is certainly a tangled web. Intriguing and compelling, twisted in so many knots, it’s hard to see how it will untangle – and indeed, there are still a couple of threads left dangling at the end. It’s another inimitable novel by Kate Atkinson. It is 1926, eight years after the end of the Great War and England is still recovering.
The ‘half-dropped’ parasol in Stephen Littlejohn’s fine poem of elegant inertia is totemic; it is fixed, like Larkin’s ‘steamer’, in an infinite present, in the pinioned suspension of a fly in amber. A pivotal point in a poem of close, considered, observation, the slow perambulation of the narrator’s mind’s eye roves an Italian lakeside tableau, whose backdrop of mountains overshadows the town that clings to the water’s edge, and renders the ‘necklace of lamplight’ a distant chain of twinkles, as inconsequential to the night sky as a twitchy candle’s flame.
Evergreens, published this year, is English author Liam Brown’s fifth novel, following his prior outing, Skin, in 2019. In Brown’s latest, the human lifespan is something that can now be manipulated and decelerated. We each have a starting pistol in the great race of life. Some of us run further and for longer but imagine if you had control of the stopwatch.
Thalassa Put out to sea, my broken comrades Let the old seaweed crack, the surge Burgeon, oblivious of the last Embarkation of feckless men Let every adverse force converge Here we must needs embark again. Run up the sail, my heartsick comrades, Let each horizon tilt and lurch.
I remember reading Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler a year or so ago and reviewing it in these pages. (Actually, I looked it up and Covid is playing time tricks on me again - it was December, 2020!).
Yoga : A User’s Guide The regular practice of yoga over a five-year period will add 1cm to your height and remove £4,890 from your bank balance. Every time you do a sun salutation the positive energy generated saves one aphid from a window-based peril. Yoga is a great way to meet other people who look like they would benefit from a good wash.
“The village is a black hole that sucks them in and will never let them leave,” says Vidar to his young grandson, and that is what happens to the reader with this Nordic Noir novel. Slowly, oh so slowly, you are sucked into the life of Liv, her son, the seventeen year old Simon, and her father, Vidar, living together in ‘a desolate farmhouse in a forgotten corner of Lapland’.
Soap operas (an American term because they were originally sponsored by soap companies) or serial dramas, as they have become known, provide the viewer with a microcosm of society. Everything which can happen in life does so but to a small number of characters, in a limited location.
Furnace Hill for William Sergeant You reckoned William Blake stayed here, fellow-travelling in his imagination, though when you asked at the library they thought you were taking the piss. Or ‘mekking things up,’ they said, like a poet, him with his fancy songs of innocence and so-called experience.
It is a rare thing to find a novel that takes neither a definitively post-colonial, nor a revisionist, approach to Afro-Caribbean history.
I have a confession: I’m a bit rubbish at sport. All thumbs at cricket, two left feet at football, although I now appreciate both games, particularly the England cricket team and Manchester United. Mike Brearley is a very different kettle of fish.
I remember the day like yesterday. I was in Hereford, shopping with my cousin who had come to stay, and my son, who was then about three years old. I remember it because it was the day my son went missing. Don’t worry, it wasn’t for long, although ten minutes felt like a lifetime that day. He was found safe and sound, having wandered off to watch a clown who was street entertaining.
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind, That from the nunnery Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind To war and arms I fly. True, a new mistress now I chase, The first foe in the field; And with a stronger faith embrace A sword, a horse, a shield.
This chilling novel is the fifth by Sandie Jones and is a compelling page-turner. Unnerved by finding the door to her garden office ajar, Naomi Chandler, a psychologist with a private practice, enters the room she was sure had been securely locked. Nothing appears to be amiss but shortly afterwards, she discovers one file is missing from the cabinet.
Pineapple (Objects in a portrait I) In this context, the pineapple represents death, and death represents obscurity. In Victorian times mourning women who found themselves smirking upon mention of the deaths of their husbands would bind the skin of a pineapple beneath their corsets to give themselves an appropriately pained expression.
Recidivism noun The English language is akin to a serial thief, equipping itself for the present by plundering the past. Even when coining neologisms, it often re-purposes linguistic stolen goods. Such lexicographic larceny would be reprehensible, save for the crime’s constructive consequences.
To quote Julia Donaldson, “Reading helps people make sense of their own feelings and it broadens your horizons…you realise that not everyone has the same experience as you.” Songbirds is one such novel. An eye-opening story which is not even set in the past! How often is it proved that we do not appreciate what we have until it is taken from us?
The Dying Gladiator I see before me the Gladiator lie: He leans upon his hand - his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony, And his drooped head sinks gradually low - And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one, Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now The arena swims around him - he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout which h…
After a hefty dose of more gloomy choices (war and such like), I had decided it was time for a little light relief and as if on cue, along came All About Evie, Matson Taylor’s second book (I had obviously missed the first), following the life of Evie Epworth.
Call for poems inspired by Mysterious Tales and Unusual Stories
There is a still calm at the heart of Jane Clarke’s poetics. Consisting in intensely focused reflection, little can break the spell of quietude beyond that which is earned in a perambulation of context; we infer sound and fury only when we consider the emotional ramifications of time moving, of a well-tilled and sometimes ravaged Irish landscape, or of loss.
It seems to me that dates often have an uncanny knack of coinciding. I have known more than one person who has died on her own birthday, others who have died on the birthday of sons and daughters; my mother’s funeral took place on my father’s birthday and a friend shares her birthday with both her mother and her father.
from In Memoriam A.H.H. vii Dark house, by which once more I stand Here in the long unlovely street, Doors, where my heart was used to beat So quickly, waiting for a hand, A hand that can be clasp'd no more— Behold me, for I cannot sleep, And like a guilty thing I creep At earliest morning to the door.
Isthmus noun Words can perhaps be seen as metaphorical linguistic terra firma, connecting thought with expression, across the vast ocean that is human consciousness. Moving on from this rather abstract concept, the word Isthmus represents an altogether more physical nexus.
M.W. Craven has been announced this evening as the winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, for The Botanist, the latest thriller featuring D.S. Washington Poe.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, Boris Dralyuk, in an interview for the Austrian newspaper, Der Standard, said he found himself reflecting on his work as a writer and translator. Where did it leave someone like him who was in love with certain aspects of Russian culture?
Ian Beesley has been well served by decline. As a documenter of lives and times in transition, this photographer of fifty years standing was fortunate, or possibly unfortunate, to be present at moments of irrevocable change.