"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
Posts tagged "memoir"
Seduced by utopia

Seduced by utopia

“Now do tell me – what does it feel like to wake in the morning on a Tuscan farm?” Virginia Woolf asked a much younger Iris Origo in 1935. Invited to stay for tea at the Tavistock Square flat above the Hogarth Press, Origo, we may assume, obliged with a beautifully eloquent answer – after...
A total portrait of the artist as an absence

A total portrait of the artist as an absence

Elena Ferrante is traditional in the most radical, boundary-dissolving ways; conventional with subversive fervour and delicately powerful talent. In Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey she proves above all the invincible strength of her authorial translucence, the rock-solid presence of her so-called anonymity, which she invariably corrects as being a determined gesture of absence. The word frantumaglia,...
Michael Chabon: Flying high

Michael Chabon: Flying high

Michael Chabon’s latest novel Moonglow is a fake memoir that spans the Jewish slums of pre-war Philadelphia, rocket science and espionage in World War II Germany, the verve and machinations of the space race and the dwindling of the American Century in a sleepy Florida retirement home. It’s a comical, provocative, jubilant and tender saga...
Taking flight

Taking flight

Nature writing has experienced a resurgence in recent times, not least as a means of exploring a wide range of personal issues and experiences. This is reflected in this year’s shortlist for The Wainwright Prize, an award for exceptional books about the great British outdoors, named in honour of the celebrated fell-walker, author and illustrator...
Elena Lappin: Secrets and lives

Elena Lappin: Secrets and lives

In Elena Lappin’s novel The Nose, her protagonist Natasha Kaplan, a young New Yorker in London editing an Anglo-Jewish magazine, discovers more than she’s bargained for when in the course of her new job she ends up uncovering secrets about her own family’s past. “I thought I had invented and imagined it all,” writes Lappin...
Edelweiss on the Black Sea

Edelweiss on the Black Sea

How it warms the soul to discover – amid naked rock, amid eternal snow, beside a cold, dead glacier – a tiny velvety flower, an edelweiss. In this realm of icy death it alone is alive. It says, “Don’t believe in the horror that surrounds us both. Look – I’m alive.” How it warms the...
All true stories are fiction

All true stories are fiction

A few weeks ago, when I was in London to present my book about Moscow, I was asked – like many a debut author – how much of the story was based on my own experience. This was just after my first public reading, I was still shaken, and I blurted out a clumsy response...
Amy Liptrot: Wired and watchful

Amy Liptrot: Wired and watchful

Amy Liptrot’s astonishing debut memoir The Outrun is a brutally honest tale of inglorious addiction in hipster-central Hackney, and a lyrical meditation on the long path to recovery after she washes up back home on the clifftops of Orkney. Plunging into nature on the remotest islands, she dissects her desperate descent into alcoholism and the...
Writing about nothing

Writing about nothing

In a clip I never tire of watching, filmed on the Scandinavian leg of her 1976 tour, punk-rock legend Patti Smith takes perhaps the tamest song in the Velvet Underground’s repertoire and bawls it at us with a screech that is raw, ferocious, tortured. Her poet’s instincts turn Lou Reed’s bland line “lately you just...
Never forget to remember

Never forget to remember

Roger Cohen’s The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family is a truly haunting, vibrant, unusual and staunchly poignant gentle book. It is in fact not one, but many books: a lingering, evocative memoir, a gripping narrative, a shrewd socioeconomic history of South Africa, Britain, Israel, the US and Eastern Europe,...