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

The Palace of Curiosities

Much as I want to like all of these books, there are, I’m afraid, a lot of fairly dull bodice-rippers and penny-dreadfuls lurking beneath the stunning cover art on the slew of mock-Victorian novels currently on the market, so it was with great joy that I discovered Rosie Garland‘s noir tale of life in a nineteenth-century freak show – The Palace of Curiosities.

Enticed by the gothic delicacy of cover art and then seduced by the Angela Carter comparison from Jenny Murray on the flyleaf, I delved into this novel with a mixture of anticipation and cautious scepticism – (more…)

April 16, 2014 at 9:20 am 2 comments

Rosie Garland

Born in London and growing up adopted, Manchester-based writer Rosie Garland is known for singing in the Leeds post-punk gothic band The March Violets and as her alter ego Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse and mistress of ceremonies. She has written poetry and short stories, and won the 2012 Mslexia novel competition. The Palace of Curiosities is her first novel, and her second will be Vixen.

April 16, 2014 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Shirley Jackson and the Post-War Short Story

Review by Max Scratchmann

I think it was Noel Coward who said that one should never return to the things one loved in one’s youth in the cold light of middle age, and so it was with some trepidation that I decided to re-read The Lottery, Shirley Jackson‘s ground-breaking collection of short stories.

I’m a great short story enthusiast. But also exceptionally difficult to please. (more…)

January 30, 2014 at 10:26 am 2 comments

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