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Sashimi with a Side of Fries

Adam Thirlwell: Michael Chabon, 16 August 2007

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union 
by Michael Chabon.
Fourth Estate, 414 pp., £17.99, June 2007, 978 0 00 715039 7
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... raised, index finger extended toward the trash bins, like a painting of the angel Michael casting Adam and Eve from the Garden.’ Chabon’s prose is in love with the hyper-reality of Chandler’s style: ‘His face is mostly jowl and his ridged forehead looks like one of those domed beehives you see representing Industry in medieval woodcuts’; ‘the ...

Giant Eye Watching

Adam Thirlwell: Pola Oloixarac, 10 February 2022

by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Adam Morris.
Serpent’s Tail, 192 pp., £12.99, February, 978 1 78816 988 2
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... Pola Oloixarac​ has written three novels, though calling them novels seems too reassuringly bland. They’re baroquely layered with ideas, hacker theory, anthropology, natural history, mythology, dystopias. I admire them very much, but reading them can also bring moments of boredom or impatience. Ideas are allowed to expand in unexpected habitats ...

It’s still not right

Adam Thirlwell: ‘Empty Words’, 19 March 2020

Empty Words 
by Mario Levrero, translated by Annie McDermott.
And Other Stories, 152 pp., £8.99, May 2019, 978 1 911508 50 2
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... In​ Mario Levrero’s novel Empty Words a writer, unable to change the vast mess of his life, decides to improve one small part of it: his handwriting.My graphological self-therapy begins today. This method (suggested a while ago by a crazy friend) stems from the notion – which is central to graphology – that there’s a profound connection between a person’s handwriting and his or her character, and from the behaviourist tenet that changes in behaviour can lead to changes on a psychological level ...

Knives in Candlelight

Adam Thirlwell: ‘Our Share of Night’, 16 March 2023

Our Share of Night 
by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell.
Granta, 725 pp., £18.99, October 2022, 978 1 78378 673 2
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... Two pulp genres​ overlap in the opening to Mariana Enríquez’s novel Our Share of Night. At first it seems like a noir, a political thriller involving law enforcement and menace and outlaw heroes. Everything is taut and fractious: ‘It was already late and he needed to go and that hot day was going to be just like the next: if it rained and he was hit with the river’s humidity and the stifling Buenos Aires heat, he would never be able to leave the city ...

Man in Carriage with Gun

Adam Thirlwell: Bruno Schulz’s Fantasies, 19 October 2023

Bruno Schulz: An Artist, a Murder and the Hijacking of History 
by Benjamin Balint.
Norton, 307 pp., £23.99, April 2023, 978 0 393 86657 5
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... Bruno Schulz​ was born in Drohobych in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1892. Except for small forays to Warsaw and Vienna, he hardly ever left his home town and died there at the age of fifty, shot by a Nazi officer. Schulz published just two books of stories in his lifetime: Cinnamon Shops in 1934 and The Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass in 1937 ...

This is me upside down

Theo Tait: ‘Kapow!’, 7 June 2012

by Adam Thirlwell.
Visual Editions, 81 pp., £15, May 2012, 978 0 9565692 3 3
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... You might think that Adam Thirlwell, as an author of self-absorbed sex comedies, had no obvious credentials for writing about the Arab Spring (the title of his first novel, Politics, was a joke). But according to the narrator of his avant-gardeish new novella Kapow!, his lack of knowledge about the subject is what makes the project so interesting and avant-gardeish ...

I totally do look nice

Luke Brown: Adam Thirlwell, 19 March 2015

Lurid & Cute 
by Adam Thirlwell.
Cape, 358 pp., £16.99, January 2015, 978 0 224 08913 5
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... is so much harder than it seems,’ the narrator of Lurid & Cute says. It’s a difficulty that Adam Thirlwell’s fiction up to this point has neatly illustrated. Reluctant to surrender his authority as a critic, he interrupts each of his three previous novels with an almost identical off-stage persona, the writer as tour guide, who with perky ...

A Taste for the Obvious

Brian Dillon: Adam Thirlwell, 22 October 2009

The Escape 
by Adam Thirlwell.
Cape, 322 pp., £16.99, August 2009, 978 0 224 08911 1
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... The Escape is Adam Thirlwell’s third book. His first novel, Politics, was published in 2003 and won some acclaim for its energetic smut and (less frequently) for its alternately faux-naif and overreaching prose. He followed it in 2007 with Miss Herbert, a vagrant disquisition on the nature of style in the novel that had the feel of a lot of flashy undergraduate essays determinedly tacked together to make a passably book-like structure ...


Michael Wood: Chinese Whispers, 8 August 2013

edited by Adam Thirlwell.
Portobello, 380 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 1 84627 537 1
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... they occur and to say why they matter. There is a moving case of translation loss in the book Adam Thirlwell has edited, Multiples, but it involves history as much as literature, and the book is also full of gains, and even fuller of instances where we can’t draw up a balance sheet of any kind, and are driven to quite different modes of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Nephews and Daughters, 23 January 2003

... which, the most media attention in the aftermath of the Granta announcement has been lavished on Adam Thirlwell (24), whose first novel is yet to be published, but who, more importantly, is the only one on the list apart from Zadie Smith (27) under 30. None of them is younger than 20, which shouldn’t be very surprising. The only teenage candidate I ...

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