Afternoon of an Autocrat (Norah Lofts)

Norah Lofts (1904 to 1983), mostly forgotten in this twilight of the gods, was a popular English novelist.  Afternoon of an Autocrat *(1956) is set in Suffolk, in the fictitious village of Clevely at the time of its ‘enclosure’.  In Britain, thousands of ‘Acts of Enclosure’ were passed between 1604 and 1914.  A passel of commissioners, (susceptible to good hospitality, spite and whim) would descend upon a village and delineate how fields and  hitherto common lands were to be parcelled out to those with claims evidenced by writing, social superiority, ancient usage or bribery.^ Part One, (“Afternoon of an Autocrat”)…

Continue Reading →

Convenience Store Woman (Sayaka Murata)

(2018 translation from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori) Keiko Furukura isn’t a convenience store worker, she is part of a convenience store. “I was wasting time talking like this.  I had to get myself back in shape for the sake of the store.  I had to restructure my body so it would be able to move more swiftly and precisely to replenish the refrigerated drinks or clean the floor, to more perfectly comply with the store’s demands”.  Keiko is content living as a cell in a convenience store, but her family and her (very few) friends are not content. “‘Keiko,…

Continue Reading →

Crossroads (Jonathan Franzen)

The first volume of Jonathan Franzen’s saga of contemporary American family life, “Crossroads” (2021) promises less to come. The Hildebrandts of New Prospect are falling apart and they don’t know it.  Worse still, they are unremittingly dull, and the author doesn’t know it.  The hypocritical, craven pastor father, Russ, lusts after a parishioner. He despises his peculiar and repressed wife, Marion.  He loathes a popular youth worker at the church ‘Crossroads’ group.  He acts inappropriately with teenaged girls.  That’s about all he does. The Hildebrandt parents barely register their children – the all-American elder son, the thinly-realised daughter, the drug-addled…

Continue Reading →

The Witching Hour (Anne Rice)

In 1818 Mary Shelley created Frankenstein’s monster, a bag of bones held together with dead flesh and animated by gothic electricity.  In 1990 Anne Rice created The Witching Hour, a 1,207 page bag of bones held together with dead prose and flaccidly animated by pseudo-gothic raving. The Mayfairs are a family of witches who limp, from Europe, to a southern United States plantation, to the Garden District of New Orleans (Louisiana’s Gothic Central). Their bones are clothed in lush foliage, incest, madness, torture and incantations. Pursuant to some vague female version of the entail, one woman in each generation inherits…

Continue Reading →

Sundog

(Jeff Janoda.  2019) We at TVC are not particularly interested in the experiences of German pilots stationed in Southern Russia in December 1942, and so we would not have picked up Sundog, had we not known that its author, Canadian Jeff Janoda was also the author of the terrific, Saga A Novel of Medieval Iceland.  Janoda justified our faith. It would have been our loss, had we judged this book by its subject matter. The settings of the two novels could not be more different, but the concise, detailed and historically rich style are the same. Sundog is a truly…

Continue Reading →

© Copyright 2014 The Varnished Culture All Rights Reserved. TVC Disclaimer. Site by KWD&D.