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Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... in 1988, and now expanded and updated to include Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Susan Sontag, Margaret Atwood remarks that the writers have been brought together ‘over what, in some cases, would be their dead bodies’. Dorothy Parker, for instance, says she is ‘a feminist, and God knows I’m loyal to my sex ... But when we paraded through the ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Ten Years of the LRB, 26 October 1989

... His Holiness James Kelman? That would be a turn-up for the Booker. I would imagine that Sister Margaret Atwood, or Brother Banville, is more likely to win the prize. On the short list is Rose Tremain, who teaches at the University of East Anglia. Two of the judges are feminists, and one of them also teaches at the University of East Anglia. And there ...

I scribble, you write

Tessa Hadley: Women Reading, 26 September 2013

The Woman Reader 
by Belinda Jack.
Yale, 330 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 0 300 19720 4
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Curious Subjects 
by Hilary Schor.
Oxford, 271 pp., £41.99, January 2013, 978 0 19 992809 5
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... me who, girlish and unlearned as I am, presume to write to a man who is the father of learning.’ Margaret Cavendish in her 1656 autobiography calls her own work ‘scribbling’ as opposed to her husband’s ‘writing’. The operations of this cultural cringe are intricate. How much is simply the formulaic politeness of eras more unabashedly hierarchical ...

Carry on Camping

Mary Hawthorne, 6 April 1995

Shelter 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Faber, 300 pp., £14.99, January 1995, 9780571144907
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... and of Parson, an escaped convict and crazed fundamentalist who is skulking in the woods. Like Margaret Atwood, in her story ‘Death by Landscape’, in which an adolescent camper inexplicably vanishes on a canoe trip, Phillips is quick to exploit the menacing sexual subtext that children in the forest have evoked since Perrault and Grimm. In ...

Big Rip-Off

Colin Burrow: Riffing Off Shakespeare, 3 November 2016

Shylock Is My Name: ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Retold 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hogarth, 277 pp., £16.99, February 2016, 978 1 78109 028 2
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Vinegar Girl: ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ Retold 
by Anne Tyler.
Hogarth, 233 pp., £16.99, June 2016, 978 1 78109 018 3
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The Gap of Time: ‘The Winter’s Tale’ Retold 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Hogarth, 291 pp., £16.99, October 2015, 978 1 78109 029 9
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Hag-Seed: ‘The Tempest’ Retold 
by Margaret Atwood.
Hogarth, 293 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78109 022 0
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... bathos that plays off modern inarticulacy against Shakespearean super-articulacy, as when Margaret Atwood’s equivalent of Ferdinand says to her Miranda, ‘Have you got, like, a boyfriend?’, rather than ‘All corners else o’ th’ earth/Let liberty make use of; space enough/Have I in such a prison.’ Riffing off depends on being ...

Good Girls and Bad Girls

Anita Brookner, 2 June 1983

Porky 
by Deborah Moggach.
Cape, 236 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 224 02948 7
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The Banquet 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Allen Lane, 191 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1574 9
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Binstead’s Safari 
by Rachel Ingalls.
Faber, 221 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 9780571130160
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In Good Faith 
by Edith Reveley.
Hodder, 267 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 340 32012 5
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Cousins 
by Monica Furlong.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 297 78231 2
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The Moons of Jupiter 
by Alice Munro.
Allen Lane, 233 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 7139 1549 8
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On the Stroll 
by Alix Kates Shulman.
Virago, 301 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 86068 364 8
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The Color Purple 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 244 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 7043 3905 6
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Mistral’s Daughter 
by Judith Krantz.
Sidgwick, 531 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 283 98987 4
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... In this excellent collection of stories, Alice Munro is treading on the heels of her compatriot, Margaret Atwood. Events are less powerful in Munro’s stories; most have to do with loss – of lovers, home, parents, childhood – and the tone is detached, wry, speculative. The narrator is invariably a middle-aged woman of good sense, too level-headed ...

Fashionable Gore

Katherine Rundell: H. Rider Haggard, 3 April 2014

King Solomon’s Mines 
by H. Rider Haggard.
Vintage, 337 pp., £7.99, May 2013, 978 0 09 958282 3
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She 
by H. Rider Haggard.
Vintage, 317 pp., £8.99, May 2013, 978 0 09 958283 0
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... the book is the sense that women, given power, will reign like despots or fail like children. As Margaret Atwood points out in her introduction, Haggard and his siblings had a doll called She Who Must Be Obeyed, who lived in a cupboard and whom the children both tortured and were haunted by. Read as an embodiment of Victorian neuroses and desires, She ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick, 19 May 2005

The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... Booker Prize for career achievement, alongside Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Gabriel García Márquez, Margaret Atwood et al. Consequently, it is sometimes seen as surprising that she is so little read in Britain. Her formidable essays have been published and admired here; but, of her nine works of fiction, only The Bear Boy – published in America as Heir ...

Banksability

Ian Sansom: Iain Banks, 5 December 2013

The Quarry 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 326 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 1 4087 0394 6
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... Nemesis, but Anthony Burgess? If you like A Clockwork Orange you’ll love Inside Mr Enderby? Or Margaret Atwood? If you like The Handmaid’s Tale you’ll love Alias Grace? With Banks, you knew what you were getting (and the excellent old Abacus black and white book jackets meant you could see it coming). Fourth, what you were getting was a style that ...

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions, 21 April 2016

Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics 
by Beatriz Preciado.
Zone, 303 pp., £20.95, October 2014, 978 1 935408 48 2
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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny 
by Holly Madison.
Dey Street, 334 pp., £16.99, July 2015, 978 0 06 237210 9
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... rather, mostly republished) work by John Steinbeck, Norman Mailer, Arthur Conan Doyle, Margaret Atwood, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, Saul Bellow, P.G. Wodehouse, Anne Sexton and John Updike. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was first serialised in the magazine. ‘I only read it for the articles,’ joked subscribers, of which there were ...

The Great NBA Disaster

John Sutherland, 19 October 1995

... little plastic bags decorated with (trademarked) Levine cartoons of Stephen King, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison or John Updike (gender and ethnic propriety are carefully observed). What is most dispiriting about these Barnes and Noble stores is the expansive blandness of their produce, and the prominence given bestsellers and non-books ...
High Fidelity 
by Nick Hornby.
Gollancz, 256 pp., £14.99, April 1995, 0 575 05748 3
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... starts out with a break-up – and there have been a lot of them around lately, what with the last Margaret Atwood, and then the Michael Brace-well, and then the latest Joanna Trollope – I always riffle first through all the pages, to see what happens at the end. I did this with the new Nick Hornby, and I’m about to say what I discovered, so if you ...

Diary

Will Self: On the Common, 25 February 2010

... gravid, from one upmarket café to the next: truly, this is the utopia to blot out all those doomy Margaret Atwood/P.D. Jamesian prognostications of mass infertility and social strife. In Nappy Valley everyone is rich and knocked up. This square mile between Clapham and Wandsworth Common has the highest birth rate in Europe; if you squint you can make out ...

Into Thin Air

Marina Warner: Science at the Séances, 3 October 2002

The Invention of Telepathy 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Oxford, 334 pp., £35, June 2002, 0 19 924962 8
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... alter egos, multiple personalities, ideas of possession and altered states in work by writers from Margaret Atwood to Joyce Carol Oates to Stephen King. The alliance of entertainment media with magic, telepathy and possession grows ever stronger, in writing for children, in television programmes – even the Teletubbies are psychic channellers – and, of ...

Even what doesn’t happen is epic

Nick Richardson: Chinese SF, 8 February 2018

The Three-Body Problem 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 416 pp., £8.99, January 2016, 978 1 78497 157 1
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The Dark Forest 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen.
Head of Zeus, 512 pp., £8.99, July 2016, 978 1 78497 161 8
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Death’s End 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 724 pp., £8.99, May 2017, 978 1 78497 165 6
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The Wandering Earth 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 447 pp., £8.99, October 2017, 978 1 78497 851 8
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Invisible Planets 
edited and translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 383 pp., £8.99, September 2017, 978 1 78669 278 8
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... gives it a very different feel to most current Western sci-fi (China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer, Margaret Atwood and others), which is largely pro-left. It’s not just the books’ portrayal of revolutionary groups and the state’s economic role. In the novels, the world hundreds of years in the future is still organised cladistically: America is a ...

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