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  • Graphic Collection: New York Drawings by Adrian Tomine
    of grey smoke threatening to obscure half of the composition Two of his finest drawings in this collection share the same high contrast pairing of blue grey skies dotted with the faint yellow of apartment block lights While Double Feature above left depicts an outdoor film screening beneath Brooklyn Bridge and celebrates shared experience A C above right portrays the loneliness of city life a young woman lies beneath her air conditioner to soothe her sunburn the dim glow of neighbouring buildings visible through her wide open window while the grid aspect of the looming architecture and the straight lines of the window sill and A C unit below it contrast against the curvature of her supine body which stretches across the length of the composition s lower quarter The subdued palette is masterfully balanced and makes for a sensitively realised portrayal of solitude The God of War A number of compositions appear as disappointingly small reproductions in particular the pieces which accompanied New Yorker film articles it would have been preferable to be able to fully appreciate the portrait of Orson Welles and the illustration of the 2006 drama Little Children Thankfully Tomine s ethereal take on Mulholland Drive is reproduced across two pages This composition s choked wisps of sky along with The God of War s roughly cross hatched shadows cast by two cyclists provide a textural counterpoint to Tomine s favoured clean line approach Hidden away in small print at the back of the volume are Tomine s enlightening and humourous notes on selected pieces It s a shame these aren t given more prominence These minor caveats aside New York Drawings stands as a comprehensive document of a singular artist s graduation from self published zines to newsstands his exploration of a sprawling surprising city and his mission to celebrate the minutiae of human interaction And long may it continue New York Drawings was first published in November 2012 It is available in hardback from Faber Faber UK Read Litro s interview with Adrian Tomine from September 2011 You can also read about how Tomine created his first ever cover for the New Yorker over at the Faber blog More of Adrian Tomine at www adrian tomine com About Rob Fred Parker Rob is a London based left handed writer and illustrator Mail Web More Posts 4 Comments comments Prev The Architecture of Stories Next Don t Just Read Perform Related Posts Leonard Cohen by C M Evans Germany and the Burden of History Book Review The History of Rock n Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/12/adrian-tomine-new-york-drawings/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Novel: Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque
    the most mutable story of all is that of his relationship with Matilde the girl who slipped into his life as quickly as she slipped out like a cat It s strange having memories of things that are yet to happen I ve just remembered Matilde s going to disappear forever There is a deep melancholy in this crotchety old man s recollections of his young impulsive and beautiful wife It seeps silently into the story so that it is only at the close of the novel that you realise you have been reading a tragic love story all along We never find out what happened to Matilde whether she ran away had an affair died or killed herself in a mental hospital but the memory of the cinnamon skinned girl with Moorish eyes who stole his heart in church one day before disappearing forever is one Eulálio cannot forget Despite this terrible sadness Spilt Milk is very much a celebration of life and survival Eulálio may be an unreliable irritable and blinkered narrator but he also tells his story with an affable matter of factness that imbues it with joy and humour devoid of self pity The novel s great strength is in its gradual rhythmic development it slowly builds a detailed layered portrait of a unique man and country memory by memory Even if like me you don t initially notice some of the detailing and patterns it is hard not to appreciate the skilful English translation by Alison Entrekin such an intricate novel could easily have lost something in the process Spilt Milk however isn t the easiest of reads Eulálio s confused voice and tangled narrative initially make for slow laboured reading It is only after a good few chapters that you might begin to unpick parts of his story and make sense of what he remembers Indeed at first this threatens to be a dreary novel about nothing in particular but read on Look for clues and patterns let the novel build up around you and establish its simple foundations Only then can you appreciate its hidden complex architecture Read it and then reread it First published in English on 1 October 2012 Spilt Milk is currently available in hardback and ebook by Atlantic Books UK and Grove Atlantic US The Portugese version Leite Derramado was published in 2009 Thanks to Atlantic Books for our review copy You can find more of Chico Buarque at www chicobuarque com br About Bella Whittington reads and reviews a bit of everything but is particularly interested in literary fiction translations and short stories After living in Spain for a year she now works as an assistant editor for Transworld Publishers in London She has also contributed to Thresholds the University of Chichester s international short story forum and the Harker Mail More Posts 18 Comments comments Prev Beloved by Toni Morrison Next Don t Just Write About What You Know Alison Entrekin If you want to know what

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/11/chico-buarque-spilt-milk/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Beloved  by Toni Morrison
    human girl leaving the family threatened and fragile in its wake Sethe is quite literally haunted by Beloved s presence a presence that although undoubtedly transcending realism is never questioned as entirely possible enforced by Beloved making inexplicable allusions to Sethe s past As such memory plays a big role in this novel with the fragmented narrative allowing tiny portions of the past to filter into Sethe s present boys hanging from trees surrounded by the shameless beauty of the plantation fields the shape of her son Howard s head an image so powerful nobody could forget the short life of her crawling already baby daughter Sethe constantly fights against these uncontrollable memories but they are so pervasive that they cannot be contained In Beloved memories become part of a kind of collective history in which you be walking down the road and you hear something And you think it s you thinking it up A thought picture But no It s when you bump into a rememory that belongs to somebody else Rememories irrepressible memories that are so powerful that they remain rooted in the fabric of the place where they occurred floating outside their owner s head long after the incident has passed illustrate the immovability of history The grown up Beloved is an embodiment of Sethe s repressed past and a repetition or perhaps a continuation of the baby Beloved s life possessing the household s inhabitants playing into their affections and then breaking apart their relationships Ultimately Beloved forces them to confront their shared rememories by making the past impossible to push aside Despite its inherent trauma Beloved finds some kind of happiness for its characters Paul D and Sethe accept their yesterday in an effort to build some kind of tomorrow and Denver musters the strength to reach out to the community Beloved completely wild and larger than ever is eventually exorcised her presence slips out of their lives but not into obscurity instead becoming part of the history of the sixty million and more of the novel s dedication those lost to the slave trade Beloved is both terrible and wonderful to read Morrison writes fiercely merging reality and imagination to show how the two worlds of the supernatural possible and the horrifying actual can unsettle and inform each other It s a novel that fictionalises a shred of the real life tragedy of Margaret Garner fabricating it with barely there memories and shadows of past selves but never giving the reader reason to doubt its truth About Catherine Noonan Among other things Catherine likes to write mostly about cultural topics such as literature theatre film and TV Mail More Posts 5 Comments comments Prev Short Stories Reality Reality by Jackie Kay Next Novel Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque Related Posts Novel The Islands by Carlos Gamerro Transgression and MJ Hyland s This Is How Book Review Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/11/toni-morrison-beloved/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Short Stories: Reality, Reality  by Jackie Kay
    morning but there is a hint of hope in her friend Sharon even though she might not be the friend she wants One of the hardest stories to read in the collection is These Are Not My Clothes set in an old people s home and narrated by Margaret with heartbreaking clarity Obsessed by the fact she is not allowed to wear her own clothes Margaret is determined to buy and wear a cherry red cardigan and blue slacks There is a deep sadness in her frailty and solitude a solitude broken only by the kindness of Vadnie an occasional carer that flickers and burns in the beautifully sustained narrative I sit and look out What I see are the trees waving as if they are asking for help or as if they are saying we surrender And there is a blue pot with some flowers I used to know the name of but I have forgotten so I ll call them forgotten flowers We are generally accustomed to reading a short story as a single discreet object designed to inhabit its own space not break free of its framework or seep into another story Reality Reality seems to confirm this notion with a series of disconnected individual stories until near the end of the collection when Vadnie reappears in another story Not only has she wandered from one story into another but she is also not quite the character we had thought she was In These Are Not My Clothes she is a kindly carer who promises to buy Margaret her cherry red cardigan and regales her with tales of her family life In Mrs Vadnie Marlene Sevlon she is revealed as a lonely fantasist unmarried alone and childless though no less sympathetic for this And at last week s award ceremony Jackie Kay discussed this interaction between stories pointing out that her stories often have conversations with each other acting as mirrors threads shattered reflections and distant echoes Sometimes it is the echo of something larger that is at the heart of a Jackie Kay short story a distillation of sorts whereby a brief intense image or feeling is captured that hints at more but needs not say more As she has said It s like having a malt whisky really a short story You can have a wee malt but if you tried to drink a whole pint of whisky you d be dead Brevity power and focus are the hallmarks of her short story writing Reality Reality was first published in May 2012 by Picador Available in hardback and ebook Established in 1999 the V S Pritchett Memorial Prize focuses on unpublished short stories meaning that writers with no publishing history may have a shot at a 1000 prize and publication in Prospect magazine About Bella Whittington reads and reviews a bit of everything but is particularly interested in literary fiction translations and short stories After living in Spain for a year she now works as

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/11/jackie-kay-reality-reality/ (2016-02-15)
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  • The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
    completed a really very complicated set of manoeuvres It featured among other things the worrying of her hip bone with my elbow stroking her eyelashes and kissing her ears Charles wants Rachel to be exceptional the subject of a Shakespearean sonnet the Juliet to his Romeo but unsurprisingly she can t live up to the heights of his expectation But despite Charles emotions being constantly catalogued and filed away for analysis moments of unscripted vulnerability do occur even though you get the impression that Charles is oblivious to this reality He grows to like Rachel for who she is rather than the idea of her Goodness me I really did like her and seems genuinely upset by his father s infidelity Perhaps most poignant is when he shares a moment with his sister commenting We had both wanted to talk I think I don t know why we didn t This almost there type of authenticity recurs throughout the novel Charles nearly says something important but opts to say what he thinks he should instead But that s kind of the point The Rachel Papers is a portrait of someone young selfish and absorbed by the idea of cultural brilliance which completely informs the way the story is told For all its unappealing characters and overwrought encounters The Rachel Papers is told in a hilarious and astutely observed manner I particularly enjoyed the description of Rachel doing a Walt Disney shiver It s perhaps not the literary masterpiece Charles and even Amis is striving for but it s a brilliant debut novel that for all its hopelessly contemplative reflections is strangely touching The Rachel Papers is Martin Amis debut novel first published in 1973 by Jonathan Cape About Catherine Noonan Among other things Catherine likes to write mostly about cultural topics such as literature theatre film and TV Mail More Posts 5 Comments comments Prev A Primer on Steampunk Literature Next Why We Should All Write Letters and How It May Help You Write That Book Related Posts Book Review Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins Anthology The Book of Rio Books in Review Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another searching for it and talking about it Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed Some call it the greatest virtue Continue reading 9th December 2015 Litro 148 The Going Home issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto This month in Litro 148 we explore the notion of what Going Home means to us Is it a familiar physical space A refuge A feeling A state of mind Or

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/11/martin-amis-rachel-papers-review/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Short Stories: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
    true by disputing his own legitimacy he recalls killing an unarmed Vietnamese man and being unable to shake the guilt sometimes I forgive myself other times I don t then a few stories later disengages the reader from the action of Vietnam and drags them into his 43 year old world to challenge all sense of surety I want to tell you this twenty years ago I watched a man die on a trail near the village of My Khe I did not kill him I was present you see and my presence was guilt enough I blamed myself And rightly so because I was present But listen Even that story is made up I want you to feel what I felt I want you to know why story truth is truer sometimes than happening truth This idea of story truth lies at the heart of The Things They Carried O Brien forces us to feel what he felt so we can empathetically understand what it s like to be at war even if we can t personally live it Maybe O Brien killed the Vietnamese man maybe it was one of his fellow soldiers maybe it didn t happen at all but plenty of soldiers experienced similar tragedies and hearing this story truth feels more honest than facts of place or time or names The Things They Carried is beautifully inexplicable exploring the sense of alienation guilt and fear inherent not only in war but in life From the outset the things O Brien carries are not only physical necessities like food and clothing but the emotional burdens of being human relationships regrets conflicting beliefs and broken hearts O Brien writes In the end really there s nothing much to say about a true war story expect maybe Oh This single indefinite syllable sums up the bewilderment you feel after reading The Things They Carried unable to discern what was lifted directly out of O Brien s life what was embellished and what was purely imaginary But does it really matter About Catherine Noonan Among other things Catherine likes to write mostly about cultural topics such as literature theatre film and TV Mail More Posts 5 Comments comments Prev The Greatest Parties in Literature in A Curious Invitation by Suzette Field Next When Autobiography Can Make Good Fiction Related Posts Money Sport amp the Big Show Ring Lardner s Baseball Stories Reading the Fifty Shades Phenomenon The Art of the Translator Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another searching for it and talking about it Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed Some call it the

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/10/the-things-they-carried-by-tim-obrien/ (2016-02-15)
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  • The Greatest Parties in Literature in A Curious Invitation by Suzette Field
    she never read Proust or Joyce until she was researching the book she demonstrates a keen interest and awareness of the literary conventions of such great writers She wears this knowledge lightly throughout the book inviting the reader to engage just enough so that they might talk knowledgeably about these stories and indeed impress people at literary parties the art of which A Curious Invitation is all about Parties were once considered the natural collective state of human beings today they are recognised as just one constitutive element of a thoroughly modern life Since the industrial revolution arrived and transformed small rural traditional communities parties have become stages for parading the excesses of modern culture as well as for defying all its responsibilities and its alienations These tendencies are all apparent in Field s well observed selections Many of the characters appear to be haunted by some anxieties but continue to live for the duration of their parties at least as if they were utterly problem free Man is corrupted by the exercise of reason and purified by ignorance Field quotes the protagonist of Balzac s The Wild Ass s Skin during his own dream party This is why revelers are drawn to a party why authors are attracted to them they are the site where a great manner of things which may not otherwise seem so could be possible a place where fantasies are allowed room to breed away from the constrictions of rational adult life Escapism is what party goers at the Last Tuesday Society surely seek but literature is also ripe with such opportunity like the wanderer in Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier who picks up a book and becomes immersed in the most tranquil happiness imaginable A Curious Invitation is a testament to Field s ability to manifest human desires which has brought her such success on the London scene and how these desires have been and continue to be informed by centuries of art making Suzette Field c Sin Bozkurt But of course no party can last forever It is the ominously poignant recognition of the ephemeral nature of all things as described in The Tale of Genji that acts as the common thread bringing together these great parties from literature Whether it s the case of Satan s Rout in Bulgakov s Master and Margarita where death is omnipresent or at Belshazzar s Feast in the Bible s Book of Daniel c 200 BC where guests are literally shown the writing on the wall or in Balzac s Bacchanal when Raphael discovers with his hangover that every desire of his must cost him days of his life parties represent the very best and worst moments of our lives our greatest desires and fears Perhaps it is strange that a book so full of life is so perpetually haunted by its opposite but perhaps this is only to be expected This state of being is best described by Balzac as an exquisite limbo embracing

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/10/a-curious-invitation-the-forty-greatest-parties-in-literature/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Novel: The Islands by Carlos Gamerro
    another example of someone who has a demented obsession with the islands he has commissioned Felipe to create a computer game of the Falklands conflict in which Argentina will emerge victorious Virtual realities it seems are more comforting than actual reality If the Falklands conflict is the heart of this novel it is through a distorted and kaleidoscopic viewing glass that we read and understand it Mirrors spiders webs chaos hierarchy pyramids order disintegration control and inversion are all images and concepts that are repeated over and over again forming a labyrinth of illusion and deception This is brilliantly introduced in the grotesque and despotic business magnate Fausto Tamerlán and his twin towers There were mirrors on the walls mirrors on the ceilings mirrors on the floor mirrors on the mirrors there was nothing but mirrors As Felipe travels up the tower he realizes that the mirrors are all one way so that the floor above can always see the floor below but not vice versa and that the topmost floor can see everything below the ultimate hierarchy We wonder which is worse the towering chaos below or this unbearable order into which it finally resolves itself and we come to understand that this madness was order run rampant unfettered to reality the mania of purely mental order yearning for the perfection of the diamond The Islands is shot through with a similar spectacular verve and manic surrealism however this novel is also a victim of its own inventiveness Long and verbose over five hundred pages even after one hundred pages were cut from the original The Islands sometimes buckles under its own weight of ideas and originality Genre bending it may be but it is also trying rather hard to be too many different things hundreds of different stories and styles crammed into one and often demands a lot of the reader without giving much back Gamerro will whip through a passage that you might want to linger on before wading through a visceral and limp description you d rather skip over Carlos Gamerro Despite this uneven ground The Islands is an electrifying novel that plunges us into a densely mirrored narrative so ingenious and layered it is hard to summarize Its satirical labyrinthine prose may be its obvious selling point but it is the shattering and painful descriptions of war post traumatic stress disorder memory and redemption that lift The Islands from madcap writing experiment to dramatic literary victory Published on 29 May 2012 by And Other Stories UK Available in paperback with French flaps Readers in the US can buy it via Amazon More about the author at www carlosgamerro com About Bella Whittington reads and reviews a bit of everything but is particularly interested in literary fiction translations and short stories After living in Spain for a year she now works as an assistant editor for Transworld Publishers in London She has also contributed to Thresholds the University of Chichester s international short story forum and

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2012/10/novel-the-islands-by-carlos-gamerro/ (2016-02-15)
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