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Index: Notes & Comment

Irony, ambiguity and London sleaze.

Anthony Howell: ‘Bathurst is excellent as the gloomy, grieving poet who becomes savagely critical of dates and dining later in the evening. Rebecca Johnson is fascinating as the dying woman who becomes a wraith who is then transformed into the potential flame for an affair which might or might not be reignited by lunch later.’

Keeping in step.

Alan Price: ‘Anthony Howell has chosen to write in a deliberately discursive style – he says so on the book’s back cover. Yet I did feel that his own “omelette” contained an excess of ingredients. The book begins to develop itchy feet.’

Eugene Dubnov, 1949–2019.

Anne Stevenson: ‘I suspect it was this personal, Romantic, very un-English sense of an enduring or eternal existence underlying Dubnov’s intense preoccupation with his own life that rendered his work inaccessible to many of his ‘post-modern’ contemporaries. His poems, however, convinced me that our mutual translations deserved an English publisher.’

The Perturbation of Baruch.

Anthony O’Hear: ‘This linking of the cosmic with the temporal, of the elevated with the lowly and the demotic, even the sordid, and of the well-intentioned with the ill-thought out, even the evil, permeates Baruch as it does much of Hill’s later work.’

The marital subtext.

A Fortnightly Review. State of the Union by Nick Hornby. Directed by Stephen Frears. Cast: Rosamond Pike and Chris O’Dowd. Ten ten-minute episodes. First broadcast on Sundance TV in May 2019, then available on BBC iplayer and again on BBC2 HD. By MICHELENE WANDOR.  

Rankine’s uncomfortable citizenship.

Michelene Wandor: ‘This book does not make for comfortable reading; it may be cathartic for some, because of its passion. It may challenge others to think about their own ethnic place in their world. Some may find it too uncomfortable to confront. One reviewer called it ‘an unsettled hybrid’. It is also unsettling.’

Freewheeling.

Anthony Howell: ‘This is likely to be a freewheeling article, reviewing books written ages ago and works which have recently come out, and delving into poetry as well as prose, prose by poets, fiction as well as autobiography, and considering publishing houses as well as their books.’

In Fabric.

Simon Collings: ‘[Peter Strickland’s] new film revolves around a haunted red dress. Sheila works as a bank clerk. She’s a single mum, separated from her husband and raising their teenage son Vince. She’s looking for a new relationship, through the lonely hearts ads in the local paper, and buys a red dress, in a sale at the local department store, to wear on a date. It proves a fatal choice.’

Sequence, consequence and the random.

Michelene Wandor: ‘This collection…deserves to be read over time, starting at whatever page, or defying the publishers and reading the first (last) collection first, and the first (last) last. The idea of sequence has consequences and the random cannot solve the conundrum of how to read.’

T-units and n-grams.

Davina Allison: ‘To suggest that academic writing is anything other than syntactically complex and lexically rich is to deny writers access to a proper understanding of the academic sentence. This, in turn, denies them access to the knowledge and skills that correlate to expertise.’

Jackson’s ‘Opus’.

Peter McCarey: ‘W. D. Jackson has striven for decades to relate the individual in his moral frailty to society and its mutations in history. The field he has chosen, or in which he finds himself, is neither philosophy nor historiography, but poetry, and he looks to other poets to help him on his way. Given that most of his working life has been spent in Italy and Germany, he has imported a lot of classic and some contemporary Italian and German writing into this work.’

Adjunct angst.

Christine Gallant: ‘Parents of college students, and those thinking of entering doctoral programs, should read these chapters for a cold, plain-spoken description of the reality. Most doctoral students serve as part-time Teaching Assistants or Instructors of undergraduates for the length of their graduate studies—they are adjuncts. They teach most of the freshman-sophomore courses.’

Two innovative plays in London.

By ANTHONY HOWELL. Third Person Theatre Company Directed by Mark Phoenix with Mark Gray, Lesley Ambler, Aliona Ladus, Samantha Wright and Afro Ghignoni at Bread and Roses Sunday 7 April 2019 IT’S BEEN A good week for me, on the fringes of theatre-land. Last Sunday, I went to the Bread and Roses pub near Clapham […]

Satire for the Millennium.

By ANTHONY HOWELL. Twas a blith Prince exchang’d five hundred Crowns For a fair Turnip; Dig, dig on, O clowns! —Richard Lovelace (“On Sanazar’s being honoured…”) A definition of satire: Heinsius, in his dissertations on Horace, makes it for me, in these words; “Satire is a kind of poetry, without a series of action, invented […]

Pictures and words.

Peter O’BNrien: ‘The Cubists and Futurists, and Joyce and Beckett changed the way we look at images and the way we string words together. The linearity can be disrupted, the sequencing can be scrambled. Lacunae. Knots. Repetitions. Noughts. Everything is possible, and perhaps to be desired. And new connections are made between the ways the mind works and how it makes sense (or non-sense) of what it catches and absorbs.’