Anne Diebel

Anne Diebel works as a private investigator in New York.

Hiss and Foam: Tana French

Anne Diebel, 26 September 2019

You’re not supposed​ to feel sorry for Toby Hennessy, the narrator of The Wych Elm. He describes himself as ‘basically, a lucky person’: he grew up in a prosperous, supportive family in Dublin, went to good schools and has always been well liked, not least because he’s ‘good-looking, in an easy, straightforward way’. Now 28, he lives in a flat paid for by...

Sleep through it: Ottessa Moshfegh

Anne Diebel, 13 September 2018

Ottessa Moshfegh​ likes to write about ugliness. Many of her characters are physically unattractive, and fixated on their defects. The narrator of Eileen, Moshfegh’s second novel, published in 2016, is fond of staring in the mirror, examining her ‘jagged’ figure with its ‘unwieldy’ flesh, her face marked with ‘soft, rumbling acne scars’, her...

The novel’s re-creation of New York City will probably inspire wistfulness. Sections of the Navy Yard have been preserved, and in recent years revitalised, but the new businesses there make things like zillion-dollar lighting fixtures and fake subway signs. Last year, Admiral’s Row was demolished to clear space for a development that will include a huge supermarket and a car park. Who can resist the romance of the bustling yard in a time of industry and righteousness? In this plot-driven page-turner about a period so important to Americans’ idea of themselves, Egan’s dearth of analysis almost passes without notice.

When Robert Lowell was mad he fell in love. Auden noted the warning signals: ‘a) he announces that he is the only living poet b) a romantic and usually platonic attraction to a young girl and c) he gives a huge party.’

‘All​ Thayer has is money,’ Sherwood Anderson wrote to Waldo Frank in 1919 about the man who’d just become co-owner and editor of the Dial. Anderson advised Frank to demand a good price for his work: if Thayer ‘does not surrender the money, he is N.G. to anyone’. Scofield Thayer surrendered a lot of money, lavishing it on the artists he admired, and on many he...

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