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Donal Ryan is a magus of a writer. He has such magic at his disposal to tell a story, which would benefit from being read out loud: The Thing About December has an other-life that is truly theatrical. This is a novel to replenish the reader’s heart and spruce the reader’s soul, although it also makes one doubt we possess such signal things. It’s a force of nature, high artifice and the product of a life-enhancing talent.
Sebastian Barry goes spare for Ryan’s new book, which I’ve just read, having picked it up three days after Christmas. It is beautifully constructed, and Barry’s points about language are well made, if a bit effusive. But then I’ve not read the first novel yet. It will be exciting to get hold of it.
““If you’re a writer who’s ever felt sucky about your pitiful advances, the lack of reviews for your books, or your inability to place your literary work altogether, you will finish reading New Grub Street feeling much, much better. Because in the Golden Age of the Novel, things were actually much, much worse.” - Pamela Erens ON GEORGE GISSING’S New Grub Street”
… I’d like to welcome Lisa Gorton – accomplished poet, critic, editor, educator and thinker – into the fold as Cordite’s current Reviews Editor. It’s an ideal fit. We’re most enthused to have her on board. Cordite will continue to do a mix of feature-length and short reviews for 2013 and thereafter. But with this dawning of the Gorton age in Cordite’s reviews, I imagine new ideas, directions and policy are at hand. As they ought to be.
Cordite news from Kent McCarter: sadly, Ali Alizadeh is stepping down as reviews editor. However, he is to be replaced by Lisa Gorton.
(Note also that Gig Ryan is editing Cordite 42:NO THEME II issue. )
Mrs Winterson continued to have an effect on life choices far removed from her own experience: ‘She hated the small and the mean, and yet that is all she had. I bought a few big houses myself along the way, simply because I was trying out something for her. In fact, my tastes are more modest – but you don’t know that until you have bought and sold for the ghost of your mother.’
Rather tough essay-review on Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? This quote happens to be something I rather sympathise with, even consider it to be something my own family members do.
Sure, Winterson may be a bit larger than life, but some of her experiences are not that unusual, surely. Mars-Jones’ essay is perceptive, but borders on harsh for the most part.
Adam Mars-Jones, LRB 26.