How criminals think

John Lanchester

  • Love and Death on Long Island by Gilbert Adair
    Heinemann, 138 pp, £10.95, July 1990, ISBN 0 434 00622 X
  • Going wrong by Ruth Rendell
    Hutchinson, 250 pp, £12.99, September 1990, ISBN 0 09 174300 1
  • The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow
    Bloomsbury, 515 pp, £13.99, August 1990, ISBN 0 7475 0673 6
  • Crucible of Fools by M.S. Power
    Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp, £12.99, August 1990, ISBN 0 241 13006 9

In his now-famous article ‘The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’, the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson gives one of the defining characteristics of Post-Modernism as being ‘the effacement of the older (essentially high-modernist) frontier between high culture and the so-called mass or commercial culture’. This effacement of frontiers, which has often taken parodic form (the soup cans of Andy Warhol, the deliberate kitsch of architects like Philip Venturi, author of the feisty manifesto Learning from Las Vegas) is now itself parodied in Gilbert Adair’s funny and accomplished second novel. The narrator of Love and Death on Long Island is the Hampstead-inhabiting author of four novels more popular in France than in this country, as well as of ‘a history of angels’. As the novel opens his work is starting to recover from two decades of neglect, and he is awaiting the publication of his second non-fiction book, a discussion of Post-Modernism called The Gentrification of the Void.

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