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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Wednesday 17 December 2003

... December 17th ...

Some more short stories! Demonized by Christopher Fowler (out Jan 15th: Serpent's Tail), and a 'new paperback re-issue of Fowler's unnerving tales of everyday horror' The Devil in Me (out 12th Feb).
I read the lead (and eponymous) short story from Anne Donovan's book Hieroglyphics yesterday evening. I liked it a lot. Writing in the vernacular gives the story, which is admittedly slight, a force it would not have if you were not having to work that bit harder to get through it. The story, written in what will no doubt be described as an 'authentic' voice, tells of a young girl who, at school, could not read or write well, is probably dyslexic. There is a neat confrontation between form and content here: used to standard english you feel a bit disempowered yourself as a reader having to work through Donovan's dialect; you feel like the wee girl in the story must do. I'll read on ...
I don't think I mentioned that Verso (thanks Fiona) sent Michael Marr's Bluebeard's Chamber. Sub-titled "guilt and confession in Thomas Mann" by what the LRB called 'Germany's most gifted literary critic of the younger generation' this is an essay on Mann's homosexuality and the themes of redemption and guilt in his work. It looks fascinating. I have to admit ('blog' as confessional!) that I have only read one book by Mann (Death in Venice) which at the time I hated: a short book it seemed to take me weeks to get through, but that was a long time ago. I'll read this and then seek out Buddenbrooks or something.
About six weeks ago, perhaps longer, around the time that the Observer produced its 100 Greatest Novels list (which, now, I cannot find online and, anyway, which is not as good - but admittedly less arcane - than the Guardian's list of "the top 100 books of all time") I was arguing about Thomas Hardy. Hardy seems forgotten. On a number of lists (and, yup, child of my time I like lists!) of top 100 books/novels Hardy broods in his absence. He seems deeply unfashionable. Why? Anyway, a corrective came last week (Dec 5th; issue 5253) in the pages of the TLS with a chunky article by Bharat Tandon reviewing no less than eight titles on Wessex's finest son ...

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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