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This is not a ghost story

Thomas Jones: Nathan Filer, 20 February 2014

The Shock of the Fall 
by Nathan Filer.
Borough, 320 pp., £7.99, January 2014, 978 0 00 749145 2
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... until three-quarters of the way through the book, but from the beginning it’s clear that Matt holds himself obscurely responsible. When Matt was 17 he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. According to his risk assessment, ‘he suffers from command hallucinations, which he attributes to a dead sibling.’ It becomes ...

At the End of a Dirt Road

Thomas Powers: The Salinger File, 24 October 2019

The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour – an Introduction 
by J.D. Salinger.
Little, Brown, 1072 pp., $100, November 2018, 978 0 316 45071 3
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... I call them books but nobody knows what they are, really: new stories about the fictional Glass family, another novel, a memoir of some kind, and tracts on homeopathy or Eastern religion are all possibilities. The only known reader of the new work is Salinger’s son, Matthew, but he may have been joined by Salinger’s widow, Colleen, and possibly by ...

You can’t get there from here

Benjamin Markovits: Siri Hustvedt, 19 June 2003

What I Loved 
by Siri Hustvedt.
Sceptre, 370 pp., £14.99, January 2003, 9780340682371
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... couples, suffering together the ordinary vicissitudes of love and work, and each raising a son: Matt, the slow but conscientious child of Leo and Erica; and Mark, the quick-witted and charming son of Bill and Lucille, who splits his time between his mother’s and Violet’s homes. The ordinary vicissitudes end when ...


Matt Frei: In Albania, 14 May 1992

... greenhouses in which the workers used to grow their vegetables are not merely empty: every pane of glass, every brick, every movable object has been removed by human termites. All that remains is the rusty metal skeleton. As you enter the steel plant, you face a long avenue lined with bushes that seems to stretch into infinity. Chinese trucks from the Fifties ...


David Harsent, 3 July 2014

... the rack of bloodied feet.*If not a cellar, an attic. If not walls of stone, then walls of glass.Now music from another room, the way it hangs in air,the way light scintillates, the way mirrors will passan image between them: raw scorch beneath the skin, that lidless stare.*Here, something is eating something. Here, a woman screamsinto the face of ...


Ian Sansom, 11 December 1997

The Bounty 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 78 pp., £14.99, July 1997, 0 571 19130 4
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... have won out over the Marthas: no waste, value for money, efficiency. Everyone now seems to prefer matt to shiny and to distrust sparkle of any kind – in furnishings, in food, in philosophy and in poets. We prefer the sombre, darker tones, moodily suggesting depth and history. Brilliance is usually acceptable only if it goes hand in hand with breeding ...

Join the club

Richard Hornsey: A new queer history of London, 7 September 2006

Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis 1918-57 
by Matt Houlbrook.
Chicago, 384 pp., £20.50, September 2005, 0 226 35460 1
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... only eight months before. Having arrived in the same year as the Civil Partnership Register, Matt Houlbrook’s impressive study of queer life in London between 1918 and 1957 does much to revise our understanding of homosexuality in that period. Coverage of recent changes in the law has tended to portray the 20th century as a time of darkness, in which ...


Elspeth Davie, 19 February 1981

... inside. A puffy red brow might turn momentarily as if to compare itself with the clear brow behind glass. Occasionally, large birds were flung by the wind onto these windowsills – no longer omens for those ones inside who remained half-smiling, calm and beautiful at all times. The place where the young woman sat was brilliantly lit, but it was getting on ...

At the Saatchi Gallery

Peter Campbell: London’s new art gallery, 8 May 2003

... beyond, than it was in the collection’s former gallery in St John’s Wood, where it reflected a glass roof. You walk into it down a narrowing, steel-walled, waist-high passage, where black oil rises to the rim and stretches out all around you. The tank is neatly tailored to follow the room’s walls, mouldings and windows. Its unfathomable mirror-surface ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels, 23 August 2001

... all move a little higher up the skyscraper of fame; each time one applies his chamois cloth to the glass, the rest of us, peering out from the gloom inside the building, see all their faces a little more clearly. Amis and Co aren’t the only gang of this kind, they’re just the oldest and the biggest. And it would be a mistake to assume that the biggest ...

About to be at Tate Britain, or Meanwhile in Cork Street

Peter Campbell: Gwen and Augustus John, 7 October 2004

... those of, say, 17th-century Dutch still-life painters, or Academy stalwarts who knew that their glass, twist of lemon and herring, girls in the garden, or wet street at night, would sell again and again. Nor do her series mark out a path towards the final resolution of a pictorial problem, or depict a scene in different light and weather in the way that ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Osbert Lancaster’s Promontory, 25 September 2008

... utilised to turn out a stream of old oak beams, leaded window panes and small discs of bottled glass.’ The details in the black and white line drawings are wonderfully precise: not just of mouldings, doors and table ornaments, but of inhabitants too. That the furniture in ‘20th-Century Functional’ (bent plywood, Aalto perhaps) and the Bauhaus light ...

At Tate Modern

Peter Campbell: Rothko, 23 October 2008

... to achieve a richness in which glazes, underpainting, overpainting, and the contrast between matt and gloss surfaces all have a part to play. In it there are columns for earth, clay and egg as well as for various pigments, natural and synthetic, oils, resins and so forth. But the Seagram pictures seem to be relatively stable, unlike, say, the Harvard ...


John Bayley, 19 May 1988

... with arm movements, in his faded blue denim jacket. He was a serious young man, in glasses with matt black metal rims. I sometimes thought that if his arms could produce masterpieces on their own he wouldn’t have to be teaching us. Elevation led to the epiphany. I remember that. You quietly worked up to this big moment when nothing happened. The ...


Frank Kermode, 5 June 1997

The Untouchable 
by John Banville.
Picador, 405 pp., £15.99, May 1997, 0 330 33931 1
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... and stops, turning and turning, like a leaf on a stream. A thick drop of sunlight seethed in a glass paperweight on a low table.’ Light seething in glasses is a recurring figure, perhaps random, perhaps a leitmotif about the significance of which one can only speculate: it could have to do with seduction, or with the sensitive eye of the art expert, or ...

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