Vixen

Review by Max Scratchmann

Having particularly enjoyed Rosie Garland‘s gothic Palace of Curiosities I formed an eager queue at Waterstones for her latest opus, Vixen, but found a completely different bill of fare on offer.

One of the things I loved most about Palace of Curiosities was its sense of Victorian claustrophobia and dark urban settings, as if all the scenes took place by the light of whale-oil lamps in the dank chambers of tottering rooming-houses; but Vixen, in its early chapters at least, appears to be a bright and sunny romp through the forests and hamlets of medieval England (more…)

October 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum

Review by Steve Savage

This short novel was written by Heinrich Böll in the early 1970s, at a time when the West German authorities were confronted by the Baader-Meinhof gang, whose leaders had been arrested in 1972.

The book starts with an item of information, that one Katharina Blum has telephoned a Crime Commissioner to tell him that she has shot and killed a newspaper reporter. The narrator then investigates, in an apparently aimless and hesitant fashion, the events leading up to this dramatic turn of events. (more…)

October 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Heinrich Böll

Heinrich Böll was born in Cologne in 1917. Conscripted into the German army during the Second World War, he became a writer after the war, and was attacked by rightwingers for the views expressed in his writings. Later in his life, he left the Catholic church. Böll was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1972. His books include The Train Was on Time, Billiards at Half-past Nine, The Clown, Group Portrait with Lady and The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. Böll died in 1985.

October 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

When the Magic is Real…

Much as I’d like to say that it was Aimee Bender‘s fantastic literary reputation that led me to her work, I have to come clean and declare that it was the fantastic cover art on The Girl in the Flammable Skirt that first caught my eye.

However, having been thus ensnared, I have to confess that I have been glued to the above collection and her other anthology, Willful Creatures, over the last week-and-a-half (more…)

April 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm Leave a comment

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is an American novelist and short story writer. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California. She is the author of five books, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1988), An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000), Willful Creatures (2005), The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) and The Color Master (2013).

April 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

The Twelve Caesars

A lively survey of Julius Caesar and some of his successors, The Twelve Caesars mixes history, politics and scandal. Suetonius obviously had a taste for salacious gossip, and few of these leaders led particularly straitlaced lives. (more…)

April 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus

Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was born in about 69AD. He practised law, stayed out of politics but became chief secretary to Hadrian (who was Emperor from 117 to 138AD). It is recorded that Suetonius was among those dismissed for behaving indiscreetly with Hadrian’s wife Vibia Sabina. He was the author of numerous books, but apart from a few fragments only The Twelve Caesars has survived.

April 29, 2014 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

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