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2 February 1989
Thou shalt not uncover thy mother’s nakedness 
by George Hayim.
Quartet, 232 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 7043 2690 6
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My Father’s House 
by Sylvia Fraser.
Virago, 254 pp., £4.95, February 1989, 0 86068 181 5
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... George Hayim, candid homosexual masochist, globe-scampering self-gratifier, unabashed lifelong idler, one-book novelist, offers, for what it’s worth, his life story. Born in 1920, the son of an adulterous, wealthy Shanghai stockbroker whom he hated, and a Shanghai mother whom he adored, Hayim recalls an incident in his childhood when his father punished him for swearing by sticking a pin in his lip ...
1 September 1988
Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Secker, 496 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 0 436 28461 8
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The Comforts of Madness 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 128 pp., £9.95, July 1988, 0 09 468480 4
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Sweet Desserts 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Virago, 154 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 9780860688471
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Happiness 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins Harvill, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 00 271302 0
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... these are the relevant facts: this rubbish heap of details is the past, the London under London. Paul Sayer works as a staff nurse in a psychiatric hospital. The Comforts of Madness is an extended imaginary exposure to what the wretches under his care feel. Peter is a long-term catatonic patient, and the novel takes the form of his interior ...
24 September 1992
Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... who have made names for themselves and written copiously while still in their late twenties are Paul Watkins, Paul Sayer and Louis de Bernières. Watkins had his first novel (Night over Day over Night) nominated for the Booker, and won the Encore Prize with his second. Sayer won ...

Asking too much

Stephen Wall

22 February 1990
Lust, and Other Stories 
by Susan Minot.
Heinemann, 147 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434467570
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In Transit 
by Mavis Gallant.
Faber, 229 pp., £12.99, February 1990, 0 571 14212 5
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The Perfect Place 
by Sheila Kohler.
Cape, 148 pp., £11.95, February 1990, 0 224 02748 4
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Howling at the moon 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 174 pp., £10.95, February 1990, 0 09 469590 3
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Happiland 
by William Bedford.
Heinemann, 186 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434055593
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... desperate defence against the importunity of memory and the inescapability of guilt. The hero of Paul Sayer’s second book, Howling at the moon, ends up in the same kind of place as the narrator of his first, the Whitbread Prize-winning The Comforts of Madness. Michael Crumly’s decline from marital content to mental breakdown is charted with much ...
17 July 1980
Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... to Marxist history. In France, Louis Althusser and his disciples, and in England followers such as Paul Q. Hirst and Barry Hindess, have argued that the business of Marxist intellectuals is to construct not history but theory (e.g. a rationally water tight account of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, not one purportedly told from the ‘facts’ and ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones

8 November 2018
... to the point of desiccation. The entry explaining how σῡκοφάντης, literally ‘fig-sayer’, came to mean what we understand by the word ‘sycophant’, discussed one possibility before admitting ‘this explanation is probably a mere figment.’ It was understood that Liddell and Scott existed not for purposes of entertainment but to stand as ...

Off-Beat

Iain Sinclair

6 June 1996
... could.’ This was the sketchy outline I carried with me to New York on a trip, with the producer Paul Quinn, to research a radio programme about the Beat heritage. I’d never been there before, never met Corso. I’d seen him, in the tweed sports jacket of a young academic, performing, sober, at the famous Albert Hall ‘Wholly Communion’ readings on 11 ...

Vermicular Dither

Michael Hofmann: Stefan Zweig

28 January 2010
The World of Yesterday 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Anthea Bell.
Pushkin Press, 474 pp., £20, 1 906548 12 9
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... out of them. Of course he failed the Karl Kraus test – who didn’t? Kraus quotes some yea-sayer to the effect that Zweig with his novellas had conquered all the languages of the world, and adds two words of his own: ‘except one’. The story went the rounds that Zweig had his manuscripts checked for grammatical errors by a German professor, which ...

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