The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

(by Beryl Bainbridge) An odd, slight, oddly touching and slightly naff story of a road trip to oblivion, culminating in the death of RFK; but is the dysfunctional, libidinous Rose ‘the girl in the polka dot dress’ who exclaimed, ‘We shot him!’ as reported in the LA Times on 6 June 1968?  Bainbridge’s last, almost finished novel is, unlike The Original of Laura, worth reading.  

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The General Strike

(by Julian Symons) 13 May 1926 – the General Strike in Britain ended this day.  People thought Marxism was through in Britain as a result but like Mao in exile, it would return. Calling a strike requires keen judgment because the reaction of the public as a whole might be sympathetic, hostile, or mixed. One example is the pilots’ strike in Australia in 1989, which resulted in the pilots, and their union, being blown out of the sky.  Another famous campaign was the Miners’ strike of the mid 1980s in England, when organized labour found out that the majority of the…

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Annabel Lee, Miranda & Stevie

Annabel Lee, Miranda, Stevie, and Lesley (image by Stephen Reid)

Greetings and a warm welcome to  Lesley’s blog,  the part of The Varnished Culture which is girly, crafty and sort of ethereal.  Our muses are Stevie Nicks, Joyce Carol Oates  and Lily Cole.  Our poem is “Annabel Lee”  –  a poem by Edgar Allen Poe – Stevie  does an otherwordly,

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Franny and Zooey

(by J.D. Salinger) (1961) This perfect little novella (actually, a short story published in The New Yorker in 1955 and followed by another a couple of years later, then combined as a diptych) is a personal favourite. One would not wish to go on a houseboat holiday with any member of the Glass family (maybe Les) but their mood storms are always worth getting caught in. Frances Glass, the baby of the family, has discovered a little book called The Way of a Pilgrim (in real life purchased from Brentano’s by Salinger’s bride-to-be and reputed Gestapo staffer, Claire) which she…

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Eichmann in Jerusalem

(by Hannah Arendt) The Varnished Culture finished this work none the wiser but better informed. Valuable as all eye-witness accounts are, it is nonetheless a moot point as to whether the ultimate Nazi bureaucrat is worth study at all. A trickier topic is the Stockholm-style compliance by some Jewish leaders, and touching on that exposes the author to a charge of excessive severity.

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