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‘I’m trying for you’

A.L. Kennedy: Gitta Sereny, 18 June 1998

Cries Unheard 
by Gitta Sereny.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 333 73524 2
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... own (partially obscured) culpability. What is not obscured is her own presence. Sereny may avoid all except the briefest forays into self-criticism, but she is the indisputably dominant character in her own work: the scale and the voice against which all other participants must be measured. Every step of the way, through ...

Warming My Hands and Telling Lies

Dinah Birch, 3 August 1995

So I Am Glad 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 280 pp., £9.99, May 1995, 0 224 03974 1
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Now That You’re Back 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Vintage, 248 pp., £5.99, May 1995, 0 09 945711 3
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... of the most convincing inclusions in Granta’s list of the 20 best young British novelists, A.L. Kennedy has composed a distinctive voice out of youth and national identity. She was born in Dundee, and now lives in Glasgow; Scottishness informs her fiction. This is partly a matter of a characteristic introspection, the tradition of spiritual autobiography ...

We stop the words

David Craig: A.L. Kennedy, 16 September 1999

Everything you need 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 567 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 224 04433 8
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... Near the start of A.L. Kennedy’s latest novel, its chief character and overriding consciousness, Nathan Staples, a successful writer of horror fiction, emerges slowly from a bout of compulsive masochistic fantasies, puts Glenn Gould on his CD player, and gets ready to hang himself from an iron hook in the central beam of his cottage, or almost hang himself – well, just enough to give himself ‘that big, blank, hot-mouthing, hair-lifting, sexy, sexy fear that he only ever met at times like this ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are wary of each other. Jamie recently refused to read with Irvine Welsh because of what she saw as the misogyny of one of his short stories. Yet even such wariness reinforces a sense that these issues are worth ...

Intimate Strangers

Thomas Jones: A.L. Kennedy’s new novel, 7 October 2004

by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 344 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 0 224 06258 1
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... Her name is Hannah Luckraft, and she is an alcoholic. Not that the narrator of A.L. Kennedy’s latest novel would ever tell you that herself. This isn’t because she’s in denial about her drinking – much of the time she finds it quite hard to think or talk about anything else – or the damage it causes, but because she isn’t in the habit of stating things so baldly ...

Heiling Hitler

Geoffrey Best: Churchill, Hitler and the ‘Times’, 21 June 2001

The ‘Times’ and Appeasement: The Journals of A.L. Kennedy 1932-39 
Cambridge, 312 pp., £40, March 2001, 0 521 79354 8Show More
Churchill and Appeasement 
by R.A.C. Parker.
Papermac, 290 pp., £12.99, May 2001, 0 333 67584 3
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... qualities rested on a curious ambiguity that strikes one again and again in the journals of Leo Kennedy, writer of many of its leading articles on European matters from early 1932 to mid-July 1939. Was the Times explaining the mind of the British Government to the world and the British people, or was it explaining the mind of the British people to the ...

Looking for Augustine

James Francken: Jonathan Safran Froer, 25 July 2002

Everything Is Illuminated 
by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Hamish Hamilton, 276 pp., £14.99, June 2002, 0 241 14166 4
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... created websites that give themselves a plug. But some authors seem nonplussed by the need for all this self-promotion, distrusting the visitors their sites may attract. ‘If you are a lazy and/or unimaginative journalist,’ A.L. Kennedy chaffs on her website, ‘you may consider using the material contained in these ...

Glasgow über Alles

Julian Loose, 8 July 1993

Swing Hammer Swing! 
by Jeff Torrington.
Secker, 416 pp., £8.99, August 1992, 0 436 53120 8
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Looking for the Possible Dance 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 436 23321 5
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The Lights Below 
by Carl MacDougall.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 9780436270796
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... generating amazing funds of human warmth, they’d bundled it off into the asylum of history with all the furtive shame of a family of hypocrites dumping Granny in Crackpot Castle.’ As though words alone could extract the concrete spike that architect Sir Basil Spence has ‘driven into the Gorbals’ vitals’, Torrington sets about reanimating the last ...


Jenny Turner: ‘T2 Trainspotting’, 16 February 2017

... a lot more time and life-events needing to be sketched in: ageing and illness, loss and offspring. All this is managed with economy and the odd streak of random brilliance. The routine about Rangers supporters and their bank-cards – lifted straight from Porno – was funny anyway, and is even better in its expanded version. But it’s always seemed strange ...


Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy, 16 November 2017

... modern church where the Madonna wept tears of blood for the world in the 1990s. Augustine, for all the dark and dismal reverberations of his moral theology, can’t be exiled from the territory of literature: whatever you think of him, his Confessions inaugurate auto-fiction in Europe. Ecstatic anguished visions mark his life, his ferocious changes of ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown, 22 February 2007

George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... place. Robert Frost was a Californian who entrenched himself in New England. T.S. Eliot, for all his Russell Square papistry, came from St Louis. These poets grew to be associated with the territories they adopted and which adopted them. The idea that a place or community might actually speak through the poet, or co-produce the poetry, may be a primitive ...

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