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Anne Diebel

Anne Diebel works as a private investigator in New York.

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...

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...

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach

Anne Diebel, 30 November 2017

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.

Lowell falls in love again

Anne Diebel, 10 August 2016

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.’

Scofield Thayer

Anne Diebel, 8 April 2015

‘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...

Edel v. the Rest

Anne Diebel, 21 November 2013

Across the street from where I live in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights there’s an enormous residential tower which in 1932 replaced the Henry James, an apartment house built at the turn of the 20th century and advertised to appeal to ‘refined persons’. When William Dean Howells first told James about the building, James replied that the news ‘at once deeply agitated & wildly uplifted’ him. It was his ‘delirious dream’ that the event would bring his work to the American public’s attention, but he feared that the venture would fail.

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