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Two Poems

Joe Dunthorne, 19 February 2015

... The Old Days Remember when everyone on earth was pregnant except for you which was a miracle and the babies jangled down on their cords like oxygen masks during unplanned cabin decompression and all language was lost to the cutesy voice. Woo are so wucky, everyone explained while you adopted the brace position, amazed at the serenity that comes from looking after yourself ...

Two Poems

Joe Dunthorne, 2 March 2023

... Bad DreamsAs I ease the blade from my father’s chesthe looks surprised – as though opening the curtainsto snow. Remember the Emperor who beheadeda soldier for dreaming of the Emperorbeheaded. After lunch, my father naps, non-fictionslipping from his fingers. When he wakes he blinksthe room to order. He likes to tell my tiny sonthe story of my birth, an ambulancein snow chains, the city bleached whiteas he held a blue thing screaming itself red ...


Joe Dunthorne: A Branching Story, 1 July 2021

... On​ Christmas Day in 1992, my parents gave me a computer game. The game was called Turrican II: The Final Fight and I knew from reading recent copies of Zzap!64 magazine that it was regarded as the crowning achievement of Manfred Trenz, the greatest programmer of his generation. Saying Trenz’s name out loud in the playground could cause sun-deprived children to stop still and give thanks that they lived in the era of true artistic greatness ...


Joe Dunthorne: Real Me and Fake Me, 10 February 2022

... Dostoevsky’s​ The Double tells the story of Yakov Golyadkin, whose life is destroyed by the arrival of someone who looks identical to him but is far more charming and likeable. Gradually Yakov finds that his double has stolen his friends and replaced him at work, and that he is generally doing a much better job of being Yakov than Yakov ever could ...

His Secret Opening

Joe Dunthorne: Revism, 2 April 2020

by Gerard Reve.
Pushkin, 160 pp., £9.99, October 2019, 978 1 78227 459 9
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... In​ 1963, the novelist Gerard Reve became the first openly gay public figure in the Netherlands. By the end of the decade, it was known that he lived with two friends in an open relationship and had a fetish that he called ‘Revism’ (it involved seducing a younger man in order to offer him to an older one for love and torture). During the same period, when many of his generation were moving away from religion, Reve converted to Catholicism ...

Grand Normal Girl

Joe Dunthorne: Jane Bowles’s Curse, 30 March 2023

Two Serious Ladies 
by Jane Bowles.
Weidenfeld, 249 pp., £8.99, March 2022, 978 1 4746 2040 6
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... In 1967​ Jane Bowles was convalescing in a Málaga psychiatric hospital when a friend brought her the reviews of her Collected Works. The book, which carried an introduction by Truman Capote, had finally brought Bowles’s writing to a wider audience than what she called ‘my five hundred goony friends’. Bowles was unable to read the clippings ...

Hurt in the Guts

Joe Dunthorne: A Masterpiece and a Disaster, 1 April 2021

Michael Kohlhaas 
by Heinrich von Kleist, translated by Michael Hofmann.
New Directions, 112 pp., £11.99, April 2020, 978 0 8112 2834 3
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... There​ are few suicide notes more ecstatic than those of Heinrich von Kleist and Henriette Vogel, who died together on 21 November 1811. ‘May heaven grant you a death even half as joyous and inexpressibly cheerful as mine,’ Kleist wrote to his sister. He was ‘blissfully happy’, he told his cousin, and looking forward to this ‘most splendid and pleasurable of deaths ...

The Whole Point of Friends

Theo Tait: Dunthorne’s Punchlines, 22 March 2018

The Adulterants 
by Joe Dunthorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 173 pp., £12.99, February 2018, 978 0 241 30547 8
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... loom, the ‘tiny rebellions’ and the ironic underachievement feel less sustaining. Joe Dunthorne’s third novel is a story about bourgeois Londoners coming to the end of their long-drawn-out adolescence, and realising that they have the same tedious needs and aspirations as everyone else: Throughout our twenties, it had been embedded in ...


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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... turned inward, the main character become someone out of Beckett who has strayed into Beirut. In Joe Dunthorne’s English version the setting is London and the time is 2010. Francesco Pacifico follows him there for the Italian text, and Vendela Vida, in English again, takes us to Stockholm. None of this is bad in principle and ...

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