Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Sandy Moffat on Dame Muriel Spark

Alexander (Sandy) Moffat, Dame Muriel Spark, (1918 – 2006) Writer

Sandy Moffat talks about his experience of painting a portrait of Dame Muriel Spark, Scottish novelist and author of ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ and ‘The Girls of Slender Means’.

7 libros de Jane Austen que todos debemos leer

Jane Austen

Como bien dicen uno no debe pasar por esta vida sin leer una novela de Jane Austen, por eso en el marco de su aniversario de nacimiento te acercamos siete libros de esta escritora británica.

Elizabeth Berridge’s work “concealed a deep subversiveness”

Elizabeth Berridge

Harriet Harvey Wood writes of Elizabeth Berridge:

Although she was, on the surface, a conventional master of conservative suburban fiction, her work concealed a deep subversiveness. The reader continually finds his expectations railroaded on to a completely different track. She was, par excellence, the celebrator of family life. There is, as she said herself, no substitute for the family: “It is society’s first teething ring, man’s proving ground. When repudiated, it still leaves its strengthening mark. When it does the rejecting, the outcast is damaged. Within its confines, devils and angels rage together, emotions creep underfoot like wet rot, or flourish like Russian ivy. It is the world in microcosm, the nursery of tyrants, the no man’s land of suffering, a place and a time, a rehearsal for silent parlour murder.”

Berridge was an expert at charting the small cruelties that husband and wife, parent and child, can inflict on each other in the domestic arena, and at describing the intrinsic dignity and extrinsic humiliations of old age. On the other hand, she freely admitted to a preoccupation with aunts, and this is manifest in most of her finely crafted fiction, where aunts of all varieties – mainly elderly – proliferate on the page, realistically, if lovingly, described. Readers of Across the Common will not soon forget Aunt Seraphina, expertly stuffing her bag with cuttings from the flowerbeds of Regent’s Park under the nose of the keeper for the benefit of her garden at home.

She was perhaps unfortunate in having spent the largest part of her writing career in the days before the proliferation of literary prizes raised the publicity value of writers to a pitch undreamed of in the 1940s and 50s. Her name was largely unknown in her latter years except to her contemporaries, partly because of the resolution with which she protected her private life. The reissue on Faber Finds of six of her novels in 2008 and 2009 gave her pleasure, and her writing retained its freshness and elegance to the end.

Interlitq publishes an extract from Ameland by Hernán Neira, translated by Peter Robertson

La Vista by Lydia Rubio

Interlitq publishes an extract from Ameland by Hernan Neira, translated from the Spanish into the English by Peter Robertson. Artwork by Lydia Rubio.

“I know nothing of AL Barker, except that she writes like an angel and I love her”: Auberon Waugh

AL Barker

Elizabeth Berridge writes:

“I know nothing of AL Barker, except that she writes like an angel and I love her,” exclaimed Auberon Waugh on reading her novel The Gooseboy (1987). In 50 years of writing short stories and novels with a voice uniquely her own, Barker, who has died aged 83, never boasted great sales, but never lacked critical accolades. As one of her publishers, Norah Smallwood of Chatto & Windus, put it when asked why Barker had never sold, “What do you expect? She’s caviare to the general.”

Four years ago, Barker, known as Pat to her friends, suffered a stroke, which necessitated her removal to a nursing home in Carshalton, Surrey, where she was cared for until her death. It was while she was there, and much to her pleasure, that The Gooseboy, and another of her novels, John Brown’s Body (which had been shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1969), were republished in Virago Modern Classics.

In the same year, 1999, her last novel, The Haunt, was also brought out by Virago. This drew a somewhat odd tribute from the Independent, which found that she possessed “the deadpan timing of Kingsley Amis at his driest, with a tinge of eerie nature mysticism that brings Iris Murdoch to mind”. Rather more soberly, the Atlantic Monthly noted that “there is humour at the surface here, but darkness at the heart”. This is indeed true of her ghost stories, for the supernatural gave her an enjoyable frisson.

Born in Beckenham, Kent, Barker was the only child in a family of modest means, and went to schools in Beckenham and Wallington, Surrey. Her father, a railway clerk, disapproved of further education, and sent her out to work in a clockmaking firm when she turned 16. During the second world war, she joined the Land Army and married a naval rating, but, as she confessed later, marriage was not for her. “I was much too selfish, I couldn’t be bothered. I just wanted to get on with my writing. It was the main thing in my life.”

It continued to be the mainspring, with jobs in the editorial office of the Amalgamated Press (1936) and as publisher’s reader for Cresset Press (1947), followed, in 1949, by three decades at the BBC, where, under her married name of Pat Bourne, she was a subeditor on the Listener for five years, until she retired in 1978.