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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson


Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls


Aerogrammes, 1-5

It felt like my life talking to me – after two months,
talking to me again – saying it had bought a new duvet
but was still dithering on the matter of children,
that it had been seeing a lot of its friends – it wondered
whether it was truly in love with me – and had enjoyed
some pleasantly successful moments at work, but it wasn’t
eating or sleeping properly, and was talking far too much.

Guanajuato Two Times

I could keep returning to the same few places
till I turned blue; till I turned into
José José
on the sleeve of his new record album
‘What is Love?’;
wearing a pleasant frown and predistressed denims;
reading the double-page spread (‘The Trouble with José José’)
on his drink problem,
comparing his picture ‘Before’ and ‘After’ ...
I could slowly become a ghost, slowly familiar,
slowly invisible, amiable, obtuse ...
I could say ‘Remember me?’ to the blank bellhop,
and myself remember
the septet in the bandstand playing ‘Winchester Cathedral’,
and the clown coming in for coffee
and to count his takings and take off his face ...
I could take on all my former beds for size.
Meander knowingly through twelve towns with twelve street names between them.
Sit on both sides of the municipal kissing seats,
shaking my head at the blanket men
and the hammock men, in their humorous desperation
offering me hammocks for four, for five, for six ...
I could learn the Spanish for
‘I shall have returned’ or ‘Hullo, it’s me again!’
and get the hang of the double handshake,
first the palms, then the locked thumbs.
My dreams would moulder and swell and hang off me
like pawpaws. I could stand and sway like a palm,
or rooted like a campanile, crumbling slightly
each time the bells tolled, not real bells
but recordings of former bells,
and never for me.

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