PositiveThe GuardianGayford starts with people, moments and meetings, standing firm in the belief that \'pictures are affected not only by social and intellectual changes but also by individual sensibility and character.\' Three cheers for that faith in individuals ... Gayford starts with people, moments and meetings, standing firm in the belief that \'pictures are affected not only by social and intellectual changes but also by individual sensibility and character.\' Three cheers for that faith in individuals ... The book’s span allows Gayford to plot several generations in relation to each other, and it’s striking how many of the most potent encounters involve forms of teaching ... Gayford attends particularly to the relationship between long concentration and sudden achievement ... The great figures of the 60s are passing—which is all the more reason to be grateful for a book that takes us right into their world.
PositiveThe GuardianThe Dig is to my mind a richer book than Cove, because it contains multitudes and sets unexpected forces in messy opposition. But Cove, Jones’s fifth novel, is both taut and impressively polymorphous ... The technical complexity of the writing is sometimes too visible; there are shifts of tense, for example, that might baffle Henry Green. But mostly the risks pay off. An elliptical frame narrative throws us out towards another, untold, story. The shape of the book depends on unforced parallels between one untranslatable sign and another ... If the modulation between 'I' and 'you' looks tricksy on the page at first, it soon feels true to the experience of tiredness, disorientation and love. It is a distinction of this brief, charged novel that if you ask at any moment 'who is speaking' it is best not to expect a final answer.
RaveThe GuardianThis is not a continuation of Autumn, at least not in terms of plots and characters, but the books converse vociferously as they revise each other’s signs and symbols … Protest is one of the novel’s great subjects. CND songs are its tune as much as the old Christmas numbers. It celebrates those who have thought in terms of society rather than self, who have had nightmares (of nuclear winter, of silent spring) and taken them seriously in every living daylight hour … Little is resolved at the end, but the novel works through correspondences that jump across bounds and make accord between unlike things. Leaping, laughing, sad, generous and winter-wise, this is a thing of grace.
PositiveThe GuardianRankine is not claiming to bring much new research, but she is a thoughtful anthologist of the diverse literary examples she collects. Not content for her book to be merely quirky, she mixes her brolly facts with strong feelings about shelter, containment and changefulness ... Rankine has taken a series of photographs of abandoned umbrellas lying limp in gutters and at kerbsides, spokes jutting out, coloured canvas slicked with mud. One feels, for a moment at least, her attraction to the sad, soaked relic of what was once a welcoming shelter, or to the near-animate presence of a handle protruding from a bin. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that the Japanese imagined old umbrellas to have lives of their own.
RaveThe Financial TimesThis gripping biography, brimming with new material, comes 24 years after Carter’s death and is the first full account of her life...[Gordon] has undertaken feats of scholarship and written an admirably clear-sighted book ... The Invention of Angela Carter is much more about purposeful choices and intellectual energy than about sorcery or fairy charms. Carter’s gleeful whimsicality is here but it’s a grace note. Gordon mistrusts the tendency to mythologise Carter as a white witch of modern literature, and thinks the provocative, high-risk elements of her feminism have too often been flattened to fit political readings of her work ... There have been, and will be, more cracklingly brilliant discussions of Carter’s fiction than Gordon gives here. And if you want a biography like a Carter novel, with striking contrasts and luxuriant prose, all 'blood and brains,' flair and fiesta, you may need to look elsewhere. Gordon’s achievement, however, is tremendous. From baroque entanglements of material and controversy, he brings living contours into view.
PositiveThe GuardianDespite performing a long rap sequence of his own invention, Caliban is a strange lull in the novel’s energy ... Hag-Seed