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Index: Books & Publishing

Who will read short stories?

By DAVID McVEY. IN THE SPRING 2018 issue of The Author, Michael Bhaskar’s article ‘Not Going Gently’ offered a fascinating insight into the precarious survival of literary fiction and made a powerful case for its cultural importance. Necessarily, he addressed the long form, the novel, but his article prompted me to prod the physique of […]

May’s daze.

By MICHAEL BLACKBURN. IF YOU HAD a thesaurus the size of the Oxford English Dictionary devoted entirely to synonyms for lying, incompetence and bad faith you would still not exhaust the ways of describing Theresa May. When she assumed the premiership just after the EU referendum in 2016 she had only one job to fulfil, […]

Gospel of honour.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Sommers asks important questions about the limits of honor in terms of quantity (or what he calls “escalation”) as well as quality (“moral content”) within an honor group. These limits are needed to balance a “well contained honor framework.” Still, it often seems as if Sommers wants this framework to be all-encompassing, and therefore, too disproportionate for my rural sensibility. He writes how “honor’s emphasis on reputation is crucial for building a cohesive and responsible community.” But there are times when he doesn’t seem to realize that what benefits a single town may not be beneficial for an entire country. ‘

The New Versailles.

Anthony Howell: ‘All they are looking for is chic literature
Suited to an Ormolu bookshelf in the hameau de la Reine:
A dalliance in delightful Kentish Town; the owner
In her Busta shorts, the builder in from Dalston.’

Keith Bosley.

Anthony Rudolf: ‘”His poems”, writes Owen Lowery, “are imbued with a sense of attachment and there is sometimes regret at the processes of modernisation and urbanisation. Bosley’s poetry frequently expresses further regret at missed opportunities, especially with regard to relationships and the complications of social class and family”.

Mr James, Miss Bosanquet, her palpitations.

Pamela Thurschwell: ‘Bosanquet’s interactions with [Henry] James and his family at the end of his life, are often touched with a sense of insecurity about her place in the household. The intimacy with the secretary, keeper of an author’s words, can be a strange and intense one…’

1922, that liminal point.

Alan Wall: ‘he significance of the year 1922 is beyond question. Kevin Jackson in Constellation of Genius calls it Year One of modernism, and Ezra Pound took to dating his letters from the date of completion of Ulysses. This was the end of the Christian era. Yeats had already remarked, after watching Ubu Roi: “After us, the Savage God.” ‘

Rrose Sélevy.

Rrose Sélevy: ‘Marcel Duchamp: In the lane there was a blue bull near a white seat. Now explain the motive for the white gloves.’

The drink.

Michael Blackburn: ‘It’s also about time I stood up and announced to you, dear reader, that my name is Michael Blackburn and I am not and never have been an alcoholic, though I was often called a drunk in my tippling days. Whatever large amounts I drank and for whatever length of time that lasted I never had what it took to be a full-on alcoholic — and I’ve known two people who did, literally, drink themselves to death.’

Pages from ‘Lots of Fun with Finnegans Wake’.

Peter O’Brien: ‘I have been reading Finnegans Wake on and off (mostly off) for four decades. I recently decided to annotate / illustrate / disrupt the 628 pages of text. It’s a way for me to attempt a reading of what many consider an unreadable book.’

Books received.

THE FOLLOWING TITLES have been received at the editorial address. More information may be obtained by clicking title links. Information on unlinked titles may be found by doing an online search for the publisher. Inclusion here does not preclude more comprehensive critical coverage by The Fortnightly Review. Editorial office: Fortnightly Review Le Ligny 2 rue […]


Peter Riley [from ‘Dawn Songs’]: ‘There are Zorile din casă (in the house), Zorile din afară (outside), de fereastra (at the window), al luminarilor (of the candles) and several emphasising particular figures of the poems – of the fairies, of the road, of the departure, of the rose-bush… There are also, paradoxically, Zorile subtitled la amiazi at noon, and de seara in the evening.’

64 The Book

‘HARMONY PREVAILS WHEN like things resonate and unlike things are in balance.’ (The Great Commentary, from the Ten Wings) He reads to Borges in a shadowy sitting room under a Piranesi engraving: he speaks of summer night, the conscious being of the book. A servant is taken exploring by his blind master on a raft […]

63 The Twins

‘WHEN THEY COMPLAIN of waking from hideous laboratory dreams, just rattle off a couple of only child anecdotes.’ Modern life has become twin-friendly – there’s no longer any fear of people meeting themselves. Oddly, it’s an offshoot of the cult of the individual. Few twins are defriended. Some pranksters post a single photo twice with […]

62 The Mouse

‘EXCHANGE OF HABITS is a high-risk adventure. The town mouse drowns in butter, the country mouse drowns in gin.’ Scamperings never seem to denote an actual mammal – as if these creatures were merely proxies for flesh and blood, a scratchy reminder. Too quick, too small, too shy to feature in creative visualisation, they meet […]