Oct/Nov 2015

e c l e c t i c a   r e v i e w s  & 
i n t e r v i e w s

Reviews & Interviews

(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Ann Skea reviews...

Grief is the Thing with Feathers
by Max Porter

The voices of Dad, the Boys, and Crow alternate in brief passages of text which are sometimes poetry, sometimes prose, sometimes metaphor, dreams or fairy tale, and which are often funny and always quite unique. This strange mixture effectively captures the disorientating power of grief and the need to carry on with the everyday activites of living.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
by Natasha Pulley

Of course, the lives of all these people become entangled, but at the heart of the book is Keita Mori, his curious inventions, his uncanny knowledge of future events, and his interventions in situations he knows will occur. He knows in advance what people will say and do: mid-conversation, he casually intercepts a baseball that would have broken his nose; he manipulates the deaths of several men who threaten the life of Ito, who is Japan's Minister of the Interior and for whom he works; and he is, somehow, closely involved in the bombings that occur in London.

Sophie and the Sibyl
by Patricia Duncker

The core of the book, and the excitement and suspense, are provided by the often tempestuous romance between Our Hero, Max, and Our Heroine, Sophie, both of whom are interesting characters. Sophie, in particular, is a very modern young lady, fiercely independent, rebellious, passionate, beautiful, and spoiled.

At Hawthorn Time
by Melissa Harrison

Through other villagers and farmers, we learn something of country life: the changes in farming practices and crops, the influx of farm-laborers from Easter European countries, the modified Rogation Day "Beating the Bounds" ritual (which Kitty and Howard attend to try to fit into the village community), the gossip and the rumor

Granta 131: The Map is not the Territory
edited by Sigrid Rausing

Other pieces, like Jesse Ball's "The Gentlest Village" and Jon Fosse's "Dreamed in Stone," are disorientating and imaginatively strange. Kathryn Maris's poem "It was discovered that gut bacteria were responsible" is truly and wonderfully bizarre. And China Mieville's "The Buzzard's Egg," in which an elderly slave converses with the idol of a god whom he has spent a lifetime looking after, is curious and unexpectedly moving.

The Kindness
by Polly Samson

There are complicated connections between all the characters in this book, and what often seems like kindness and support has complicated origins and results. Polly Samson, however, handles all these tangled threads with great skill and subtlety.

Walking Away
by Simon Armitage

Walking Away is a daily record of his journey, of the people who walked and talked with him, of his poetry readings, and of his overnight accommodations, which ranged from a four-poster bed in a stately home to a teenager's bedroom in a B&B where the landlady was absent and room's occupant didn't seem to know his bed was taken.

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Shirt in Heaven
by Jean Valentine

It would be a mistake to think Valentine has become blatantly sentimental or confessional. She does, however, write freely, almost obsessively, about those she has loved returning to her in dreams. They return with glimpses of favorite pets, hinted backdrops, symbolic props.

and presents...

A review of The Art of Political Lying by Jonathan Swift

The tendency of the soul toward the malicious, springs from self-love, or a pleasure to find mankind more wicked, base, or unfortunate than ourselves. The design of the miraculous proceeds from the inactivity of the soul, or its incapacity to be moved or delighted with anything that is vulgar or common. The author having established the qualities of the mind, upon which his art is founded, he proceeds.