Edmund Gordon

Edmund Gordon is the author of The Invention of Angela Carter. He teaches creative writing at King's College London.

Insects don’t get a great deal of airtime in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The book that exposed the harmful effects of DDT on fish, birds, livestock and people had surprisingly little to say about the creatures the pesticide was intended to harm, except that they were starting to develop resistance – in other words, the case for spraying poison indiscriminately wasn’t...

The steps along the way are at once depressingly small and forbiddingly vast. Learning to swallow again. Learning to match the word ‘cat’ with a picture of a cat again; learning to say the word ‘cat’ again. Learning to write his name again. When my father was at the start of this process, my wife and I took our two-year-old son to visit him in hospital. I watched as Dad struggled to say ‘hello’, encouraged by the child whose own recent breakthroughs in speech had been a source of uncomplicated pride.

‘Didn’t I tell you,’ a character asks halfway through C. Pam Zhang’s first novel, How Much of These Hills Is Gold, ‘that you should always ask why a person is telling you their story?’ In a series of essays and interviews around the time of the book’s publication, Zhang tried to explain why she was telling this one. When she was four her family...

Porno Swagger: ‘Cleanness’

Edmund Gordon, 16 April 2020

InU&I (1991), his book about John Updike, Nicholson Baker imagines explaining the appeal of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming-Pool Library to his literary hero. ‘You know, once you get used to the initially kind of disgusting level of homosexual sex, which quickly becomes really interesting as a kind of ethnography, you realise that this is really one of the best first...

Helter-Skelter: ‘Melmoth’

Edmund Gordon, 3 January 2019

Sarah Perry​ was raised a Strict Baptist, with a number of exotic beliefs – in the literal existence of the devil, the creation of the earth in six days, the sinfulness of women wearing trousers – whose most visible legacy is her interest in ethical and existential questions. That makes her rare among her generation of British writers. She abandoned the sect in her twenties over...

A New Kind of Being: Angela Carter

Jenny Turner, 3 November 2016

Rick Moody remembered his first encounter with Carter at a creative writing seminar: ‘Some young guy in the back … raised his hand and, with a sort of withering scepticism, asked, “Well, what’s...

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