Torrey Peters’s treatment of her two central themes – the detransition and the baby – injects realism into some of the most frenzied debates around trans issues. Detransition is not only...

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His One Eye Glittering: Creeley’s Chatter

August Kleinzahler, 20 May 2021

Logorrhoea:​ Charles Olson, Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley were all afflicted with it. I only ever witnessed Duncan’s performances – free-form, extended, mostly improvised...

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It’s brave of C. Pam Zhang to come at her themes from an angle – if the setting isn’t actual 19th-century America, then there’s a risk that her revisionism might lose its relevance...

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Eels on Cocaine

Emily Witt, 22 April 2021

Patricia Lockwood is a generous writer. She seems incapable of resentment and has a Rabelaisian appreciation for the bawdy. She can describe America’s corporate restaurant chains and their blooming...

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The social identities behind the vintage references in Artem Chekh and Zakhar Prilepin’s works are the fundamental oppositions of the 21st century: on one side the liberals, the bourgeois, the cosmopolitans,...

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The Flower and the Bee: Many Anons

Irina Dumitrescu, 22 April 2021

Writing is not now considered a collective exercise. The Romantic myth of the lone genius persists. He is no longer always a white man – only most of the time. The black and white author photo is...

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Lost Names: Lucille Clifton

Andrea Brady, 22 April 2021

Poetry can be a radical act of naming and misnaming, of bringing to light the awkward correlations between objects and words. Audre Lorde described it as ‘the way we help give name to the nameless...

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Kafka wrote that, were it not for the final act, Michael Kohlhaas would be ‘a thing of perfection’, which is a diplomatic way of saying that Kleist absolutely butchers it. In fact, one of the...

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Fed up with Ibiza: Sybille Bedford

Jenny Turner, 1 April 2021

You might start reading her for the food and the celebrity gossip, but you reread for the thrilling materiality, ‘concrete and fastidious’, as she herself once suggested, of her prose:...

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Bon-hommy: Émigré Words

Michael Wood, 1 April 2021

French is fancy and fashionable, but we aren’t going to fall for that. We have solid, stocky Saxon words to hand, verbal guarantees of a closeness to reality. Who needs ennui when we have old-fashioned...

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Yeah, that was cool: ‘Rave’

Harry Strawson, 1 April 2021

Rainald Goetz isn’t much interested in telling tales of hedonistic excess. He’s not above name­dropping, showing off about the DJs he was friends with and the cool clubs he went to, but...

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On Charles Wright

Matthew Bevis, 1 April 2021

Finishing Oblivion Banjo, I was left in a Wright-like quandary: ‘I seem to have come to the end of something, but don’t know what.’ The book offers itself as ‘the perfect distillation’...

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‘He took stories apart and put them back together like toys,’ Gianni Rodari’s wife remembered in a rare interview. Often it seems the reassembly is an attempt to construct the kind of...

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It may be inherently impossible to write a novel that openly poses such questions as whether robots can be said to have souls, or to be conscious, or capable of feeling love, or of inspiring and reciprocating...

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Why do it, Sarah? ‘The Glass Kingdom’

Blake Morrison, 18 March 2021

Lawrence Osborne’s novels include all the props associated with thrillers: guns, heists, bribes, spiked drinks, assumed identities, ghostly visitations and suitcases stuffed with banknotes. But the...

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Stainless Steel Banana Slicer

David Trotter, 18 March 2021

Gimmickry is the séance during which some commodities, at least, have begun to dance as if of their own free will. Marx’s term for ‘of its own free will’ is ‘aus freien Stücken’...

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Words, too, can mean opposite things. This is a minority interest among those who want language to communicate plainly, but it’s of consummate interest to poets. In the procedural poems, you see...

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A remarkable number of scenes take place in the lavatory or on the way to it. We get milk stinking of mice, clothes reeking of paraffin and horse’s sweat, the musty odour of armpits and the ‘heavy...

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