Happy Birthday Philip

El_Aquelarre_(1797-1798)

Philip Roth b. 19 March 1933 Though he said he’d pull the pin after his last book, Nemesis (2010), we hope that he’s tinkering with a posthumous classic (preferably something much better than The Original of Laura). We doubt it could be any funnier – or filthier – than Sabbath’s Theater (1995), that riotous and dark meeting of Mickey Sabbath (Lear/Fool) and Drenka Balich (Cordelia/Goneril/Regan), with her penchant for playing Mrs Malaprop. Roth is the grubbiest writer in centuries, a great descendant of Catullus, Rabelais and Geoffrey Chaucer.  In a thoughtful piece, James Wood comments that “Misogyny always flickers in [Roth’s]…

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Memento Mori

(Giovanni Martinelli c. 1635)

(Giovanni Martinelli c. 1635)

(by Muriel Spark) Don’t let the question of who is making the famous “Remember you must die” phone calls distract you, o gentle reader, from the more important reflections on memory, sanity, guilt, narcissism and avarice raised in this searing novelette  Although under threat, a phalanx of elderly people simply up the ante and behave even more badly than they did in their (adulterous, manipulative, black-mailing) youth.  There are amusing characters – a bellicose poet who gets into fisticuffs with a crippled but no less fearsome critic over the reputation of a dead poet –  a would-be Margaret Mead of the geriatric who studies the elderly; assiduously…

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Headlong

September 11, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | ART, Comedic Books, Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
Bruegel the Elder, Winter Landscape with skaters and bird trap

Bruegel the Elder, Winter Landscape with skaters and bird trap

(by Michael Frayn) What would you do if you were certain that you had discovered a work of art not so much lost as mythical? A painting beyond value which is being used by rich rural idiots to block the fireplace.  Horrible, unhinged, feckless Martin Clay makes that decision instantaneously in Michael Frayn’s Headlong.  and then dithers about it until the reader wants to cry.  This is a marvellous, unusual and comic book with some weaknesses – for one, the reader will  learn more than s/he need ever know about Breugels both with and without “h”s, elder and younger and the bitter relationship between the Netherlands…

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Solar

solar

(by Ian McEwan) An amusing novel, in which the somewhat clunky cogs of plot are lubricated with humorous observations about the commercialisation of the Religion of Climate Change, the dopier aspects of feminism, sloth, urban myths, modern travel, class and scientific research. Unfortunately the oil fails the mechanism at the end, at which point it grinds to a rather noisy and unlikely meltdown. Worth reading but…I realised partway through that I had in fact read it before and could barely remember it.

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The Book Show

thebookshow

 Summer 2014, Ultimo TVC loves this show, although the initial set was a shameless rip off of “Hidden”.  A great argument for the national broadcaster, although surely the Fry-B-C could muck along for a few millions less?  We attended a taping some time back (incognito) and thus got stalker-close to Ms Byrne, Ms Hardy and Mr Steger plus guest. Jennifer Byrne is the perfect host – charming, open-minded, enthusiastic (but no pushover – she does generally not abide shite).  Marieke Hardy is P’s favourite, hardiest critic – she and P may share few opinions overall, but when she hates something,…

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