Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Rosamond Lehmann’s Dusty Answer “is both universal and deliciously particular”

Harriet Lane writes about Rosamond Lehmann’s novel Dusty Answer:

“Lehmann’s story is both universal and deliciously particular, like all the best coming-of-age stories. No one has written more brilliantly about having one’s heart broken, about despair and longing, humiliation and hope: all the wretched thrilling chaos that accompanies growing up. Finding it at 15 felt a little like stumbling upon magic. Miraculously, all these years and re-readings later, it still has that effect on me.”

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“Yet to the late Juan José Saer…Di Benedetto’s style was ‘undoubtedly the most original’ in twentieth-century Argentina”

Antonio Di Benedetto

Antonio Di Benedetto

In The New Yorker, Benjamin Kunkel writes:

“Zama,” a brief, indelible novel by the Argentinean writer Antonio Di Benedetto, is a work of waiting—of enforced lassitude, excruciated anticipation, and final frustration. The story of a man holding out for deliverance from the backwater that turns out to be his destiny (if “destiny isn’t too dignified a word for where character and circumstance conspire to deposit us), it was written by a man likewise toiling in provincial obscurity and had itself to wait decades after its publication, in 1956, before it was recognized in the Spanish-speaking world as a classic. Only now, some sixty years later, and thirty after the death of its author, has the book appeared in English, in a sensitive translation by Esther Allen (New York Review Books). Yet to the late Juan José Saer, the leading Argentinean novelist of recent decades, Di Benedetto’s style was “undoubtedly the most original” in twentieth-century Argentina, and his work “one of the culminating instances of Spanish-language narrative in our century.”

Pamela Hansford Johnson’s “amphetamine addiction is never investigated, nor are the anonymous poison-pen letters…”

Pamela Hansford Johnson in 1949

Pamela Hansford Johnson in 1949

Reviewing Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times by Wendy Pollard, Hilary Spurling writes:

“Reviewing the impact of Johnson’s amphetamine addiction is never investigated, nor are the anonymous poison-pen letters she received at intervals for much of her life, nor for that matter Francis King’s suggestion that Snow led a secret life like his friends, the novelist William Cooper and the Cambridge historian J.H. Plumb. All three had been taught at the same Leicester school by the same charismatic schoolmaster, who caused consternation 40 years later when the police threatened to arrest him on charges of paedophilia. A strain of suppressed homosexuality might explain much that remains mysterious about the Snows’ marriage: the aridity of his private life, her ongoing sexual frustration, the bland evasiveness that deadens his fiction, perhaps also the fact that he has had no biography in more than 30 years since his death.”

Anthony Blunt “was a scholar whose only peers could be found in pre-war Germany…”

Anthony Blunt

Anthony Blunt

Reviewing Miranda Carter’s Anthony Blunt: His Lives, Hywel Williams writes:

Blunt was less “gay” than “homosexual”, the more clinical appellation seeming also the more appropriate for so austere an intelligence. Botticelli, Florence and frou-frou had to make way for Borromini, Rome and the baroque in the crepuscular Blunt imagination. He was a scholar whose only peers could be found in pre-war Germany, and in his lectures he could convey the emotion that in private was locked away inside a buried heart. He was generous with his pupils in time and encouragement. And in his scholarly account of Poussin – his true love – he showed an understanding that went beyond that of a detached classical style concerned with merely significant form. He liked the intellectuality of Poussin and his neo-Stoic creed, because he could then relate the works to the way the artist coped with age and loss and disappointment. And these things lived when Blunt spoke – just as in his descriptions of Borromini’s botched suicide or the suffering of the London poor as the background to Blake.

“…cancer is a pugnacious adversary, rising to its feet after every knockout”: Neil Langdon Inglis

Neil Langdon Inglis

Neil Langdon Inglis

In a period of weeks in January 2016, the deaths of a spate of celebrities both major and minor were reported in the press.  All were of approximately the same age (not elderly by today’s standards), and all had succumbed to mankind’s most feared affliction. Such news stories call into question popular faith in medical progress.

In his review, appraising The Emperor of All Maladies—A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee and Unnatural History—Breast Cancer and American Society by Robert A. Aronowitz MD, to be published in Interlitq´s “English Writers 3”, and assessing the history and state of play in cancer research and therapy, a world in which optimistic prognostications have long coexisted with the grim reality. Neil Langdon Inglis, U. S. General Editor of Interlitq, and a contributor to Issues 18, 19, 20 and 21 of Interlitq, and Interlitq´s “English Writers 1” and “English Writers 2“, concludes:

“These obituaries reveal what we already know—that cancer is a pugnacious adversary…”