Saturday, October 21, 2017

Game of Thrones' Lena Headey claims she was harassed by Harvey Weinstein, accuses Terry Gilliam of 'bullying'

Lena Heady

Game of Thrones' Lena Headey claims she was harassed by Harvey Weinstein, accuses Terry Gilliam of 'bullying'

Harvey Weinstein made repeated sexual advances towards Game of Thrones star Lena Headey that left her feeling "powerless", the actress has claimed in a statement released on Twitter.

'In America, art is a freaky side show' / George Saunders on the Man Booker Prize and a divided America

Georges Saunders
Poster by T.A.

'In America, art is a freaky side show': George Saunders on the Man Booker Prize and a divided America

"There's a sense that art is a freaky side show," says George Saunders.
It’s 9am in a central London hotel and George Saunders is looking remarkably chipper for someone who has had four hours sleep and, thanks to jet lag, only two and a half the night before. On Tuesday evening the Texas-born writer won the Booker Prize for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo, and the party at his publishers went on until 2.30am. Did he cut loose?

Friday, October 20, 2017

George Saunders Wins the Man Booker Prize for ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’

George Saunders

George Saunders Wins the Man Booker Prize for ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’

OCT. 17, 2017

George Saunders’s surreal, experimental first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, marking the second year in a row that the prize has gone to an American author.
The novel unfolds in a cemetery in 1862, where a grieving Abraham Lincoln visits the crypt that holds the body of his 11-year-old son, Willie, who died of typhoid fever. At the graveyard, Willie’s spirit is joined by a garrulous, motley community of ghosts who exist in the liminal state between life and death. At times, the narrative feels more like a play or an oral history than a novel, with dialogue among the ghosts, interspersed with scraps of historical research and snippets of contemporary news accounts that Mr. Saunders gathered, or in some cases invented.

Lincoln in the Bardo is such a marvelous novel / George Saunders by Sam Lipsyte

George Saunders
Photo by David Crosby

George Saunders

by Sam Lipsyte

"Lincoln in the Bardo is such a marvelous novel."
Sam Lipsyte

BOMB 139
Spring 2017

I've known George a little bit for a while now. We've chatted and emailed each other praise and encouragement. So it was a great joy to finally sit down with a writer whose stories have astonished me for years. His new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, takes his gifts into deep, expansive territory without sacrificing the comic concision and emotional explosiveness of his earlier work. No one has shaped the landscape of recent American fiction quite like Saunders. No one has shaped the lives of students in recent years quite like Saunders, either. A writer who studied with him at Syracuse University once said to me: "George taught me how to write, but more than that, he taught me how to be a person." There are no real surprises when you meet George Saunders. He's the kind, curious, witty, thoughtful, and open-hearted man you might expect from his writing. Which is not to say he can't be viciously funny when the moment calls for it. We met at his hotel in New York City for over three hours. We ate a big plate of fruit and drank a pot of coffee.
 —Sam Lipsyte

George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year

George Saunders

George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year

January 3, 2013

In a little sushi restaurant in Syracuse, George Saunders conceded that, sure, one reality was that he and I were a couple guys talking fiction and eating avocado salad and listening to Alanis Morissette coming from the speaker above our heads. Another was that we were walking corpses. We’d been on the subject of death for a while. A friend I loved very much died recently, and I was trying to describe the state I sometimes still found myself in — not quite of this world, but each day a little less removed — and how I knew it was a good thing, the re-entry, but I regretted it too, because it meant the dimming of a kind of awareness that doesn’t get lit up very much. I was having some trouble articulating it, but Saunders was right there, leaning in and encouraging. He has a bushy blond mustache and goatee going gray, and sometimes, when he’s listening intently, he can look a little stern, as if he just stepped out of a tent at Antietam. But then he starts talking and the eyebrows go up and it’s all Chicago vowels and twinkly Doug Henning eyes, and if you didn’t know that he was more or less universally regarded as a genius, you might peg him as the superfriendly host of a woodworking show on daytime public access.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sarah Hall / ‘I love writing about sex, the civil veneer stripped off’

Sarah Hall: ‘I love writing about sex, the civil veneer stripped off’

The books interview: the author of The Electric Michelangelo talks about her new book, The Wolf Border, how motherhood has affected her work and why avoiding politics in fiction is juvenile

Sarah Crown
Saturday 28 March 2015 09.00 GMT

ant to know what it takes for a literary author to become a household name? Ask Hilary Mantel. Never mind the three decades-worth of praise and prizes she garnered for her pre-Wolf Hall output, it wasn’t until she tackled the Tudors that she made the step-change. These days, of course, she’s Dame Hilary, universally revered – but not so very long ago she was writing in relative obscurity, vigorously championed by her supporters, but little known by the wider public.

Beautiful and brutal / How James Salter set the standard for erotic writing

Beautiful and brutal: how James Salter set the standard for erotic writing

Following a young couple in 1960s France, A Sport and a Pastime asks how we make sense of romance and tells the truth about sexual love

Sarah Hall
Friday 17 February 2017 13.00 GMT

am not telling the truth about Dean,” the unnamed narrator warns the reader early in A Sport and a Pastime. “I am creating him out of my own inadequacies, you must always remember that.” So begins an ardent, interruptive tale of desire and discovery, conceived self-consciously and sensually on each page.

Sarah Hall / The brilliance of Richard Brautigan

Cat in a hat … Richard Brautigan.
Photograph by Chris Felver

The brilliance of Richard Brautigan

Fairytale meets beat meets counterculture: bursting with colour, humour and imagery, Brautigan’s virtuoso prose is rooted in his rural past – and that’s what draws me in

Sarah Hall
Tuesday 23 September 2014 15.24 BST

Over the years, I’ve lived in a variety of places, including America, but I was born and raised in the Lake District, in Cumbria. Growing up in that rural, sodden, mountainous county has shaped my brain, perhaps even my temperament. It’s also influenced the qualities I seek in literature, as both reader and writer. In my early 20s, connecting with fiction was a difficult process. There seemed to be little rhyme or reason to what was meaningful, what convinced, and what made sense. There was a lot of fiction I did not enjoy, whose landscapes seemed bland and unevocative, the characters faint-hearted within them, the very words lacking vibrancy. This was no doubt empathetic deficiency on my part. I wouldn’t say it was lack of imagination – if anything, roaming around moors and waterways solo can lead to an excessive amount of making things up, a bizarreness of mind. I suppose what I wanted to discover was writing that served these functions, and I was in danger of quitting books.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Donald Antrim / The Hundred Brothers / Review by Granta

by Donald Antrim

Ninety-nine brothers (one couldn't make it) gather in their decaying ancestral mansion. There's Rob, Bob, Tom, Paul, Ralph, and Noah; Nick, Dennis, Bertram, Russell, and Virgil. The doctor, the documentary filmmaker, and the sculptor in burning steal; the eldest, the youngest, and the celebrated "perfect" brother, Benedict. Bound by blood and a common streak of insanity, they have come together to feast, carouse, abuse each other and seek and inter, once and for all, the long-lost, cremated remains of their domineering father.

Donald Antrim / The Hundred Brothers / Kirkus Review

by Donald Antrim

Surrealism is alive and well in the antic universe of Antrim's fiction. This second novel of a projected trilogy (Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, 1993) begins with an audaciously absurd conceit and rings an impressive number of changes on it. Doug, the frantic narrator, gathers with 98 of his 99 brothers (including Zachary, ``the Giant''; Pierce, the ``designer of radically unbuildable buildings''; Milton, ``the channeler of spirits who speak across time''; and the celebrated ``perfect'' brother, Benedict, famous for his work on the ``sexual language'' of social insects) in their deceased father's library to ``put the past behind us, share a light supper, and locate, if we could bear to, the missing urn'' of their progenitor's ashes. The youngest son is in his mid-20s, the oldest in his 90s. Only George, the urban planner, is missing, having recently vanished ``with a girl named Jane and an overnight bag packed with municipal funds in unmarked hundreds.'' George is only one of the topics of conversation as the brothers, waiting impatiently for dinner to be announced, inevitably reanimate old grievances and competing loyalties. Doug, a rebel and openly disdainful of their father, inspires a series of bitter clashes among family factions. There are accidents as the brothers, packed into the library, begin to grow restive. Finally, also inevitably, violence breaks out, and the hapless Doug is at the heart of the increasingly violent (if slapstick) family feud. The plot, of course, is secondary here: What matters is Antrim's ability to keep an impossible concept spinning, to come up with more and more outrageous variations, and he does exactly this in a wonderfully calm and assured manner. Few writers can match his inventiveness or his determination to remind us that the best fiction can be simply about the pleasure that comes from the free play of the imagination. Another unique work from the most delightfully idiosyncratic of young American writers.


Donald Antrim / The Hundred Brothers / Review

The Hundred Brothers

By Donald Antrim
Crown Publishing Group (NY)

The first sentence of Antrim's hallucinatory, grimly funny and esoteric second novel (following Elect Mrs. Robinson for a Better World) is a feat of absurdist humor and wordplay. In a single, three-page paragraph, Antrim introduces his cast of 100 brothers, ranging from doddering 93-year-old Hiram to Sergio, ""the caustic graphomaniac,"" Mongo, ""the really bad womanizer,"" Maxwell, ""the tropical botanist, who, since returning from the rain forest has seemed a little screwed up,"" and the narrator, Doug, a crazed genealogist. They have all gathered in the byzantine library of their crumbling ancestral estate to ""share a light supper"" and discuss their deceased father. Like a Beckett play interlaced with elements of a medieval heroic chronicle and the comic anarchy of a Marx Brothers routine, the novel follows Doug, a kind of authorial stand-in, as he wanders about the library, wreaking havoc, discoursing on bloodlines and inheritance and observing his brothers' bullying, grousing and violent skirmishes. Leading an after-dinner football game, Doug, who gradually proves himself the most demented of the clan, sheds his clothes and proclaims himself the Corn King, an ancient, sacrificial harvest spirit. The novel ends as Doug dashes through the library, past shelves of Cavalier poets, minor Elizabethans, 19th-century novelists and war poets, imagining that his brothers are chasing him with clubs and knives, intent on tearing him limb from limb. Drunk with language and surreal humor, Antrim's allegory never really coheres. One suspects that he views this novel as a kind of sacrificial goat in its own right, one that only readers with a strong sense of the perverse are likely to enjoy. And that's probably the point. First serial to the New Yorker. (Feb.)


Donald Antrim / Here Come the Sons / Review by Hal Espen

Here Come the Sons
March 30, 1997

A cruel and debauched family, consisting of 100 brothers, reunites at the ancestral home

onald Antrim likes his comedy pitch-black. In his first novel, ''Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World,'' a pleasant suburban town becomes a hellish war zone in which neighbor dispatches neighbor with Stinger missiles, and the psychotic narrator, good old Mr. Robinson, presides over the basement torture and murder of a little girl. Now, in ''The Hundred Brothers,'' the second volume in what is shaping up to be a very nasty projected trilogy, the 38-year-old Mr. Antrim has staged the testosterone-poisoned reunion of a cruel and debauched fraternal cohort whose sibling society would make Robert Bly weep with shame. Yes, there really are 100 brothers -- white Anglo-Saxon Protestant American men of the usual upper-middle-class professions. For mythic and satiric purposes, Mr. Antrim has concocted a fantastically large brood whose prodigious father is dead but still uninterred, and the brothers have gathered in the vast red library of their leaky ancestral home for the ostensible purpose of finding and burying the urn containing the old man's ashes.

Jonathan Franzen / Rereading The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim

Donald Antrim

Jonathan Franzen: rereading The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim

Without supreme authorial control, The Hundred Brothers would collapse under the weight of its preposterous premise

Jonathan Franzen
Friday 1 February 2013

he Hundred Brothers is possibly the strangest novel ever published by an American. Its author, Donald Antrim, is arguably more unlike any other living writer than any other living writer. And yet, paradoxically – in much the same way that the novel's narrator, Doug, is at once the most singular of his father's 100 sons and the one who most profoundly expresses the sorrows, desires and neuroses of the other 99 – The Hundred Brothers is also the most representative of novels. It speaks like none of us for all of us.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Donald Antrim / Another Manhattan

Another Manhattan

By Donald Antrim

December 22, 2008

They had lied to each other so many times, over so many years, that deceptions between them had become commonplace, practically repertoire. Everyone knew this about them—it wasn’t news among their friends. That night, they had dinner reservations with Elliot and Susan, who were accustomed to following the shifts in attitude and tone—Kate’s theatrical sighs, for instance, in reaction to Jim’s mournful looks across the table at her—brought on by the strain of living in an atmosphere of worry and betrayal. It was winter, and dark, and the air in their little apartment was dry and nauseatingly warm; and yet what they needed, it seemed to Jim, was not to flee their home for another night of exciting conversational pauses and sly four-way flirting. They needed to sit down together, no matter how stuffy it got in the living room, no matter how loudly the radiators hissed and banged, and take turns speaking their minds. They had to talk. But first he would stop at the florist’s on his way home from the outpatient clinic. If he walked through the door carrying a bouquet, there was a chance that Kate might smile.

Donald Antrim / Ever Since

Illustration by Josh Cochran

Ever Since

By Donald Antrim

March 12, 2012

Ever since his wife had left him—but she wasn’t his wife, was she? he’d only thought of her that way, had begun to think of her that way, since her abrupt departure, the year before, with Richard Bishop—Jonathan had taken up a new side of his personality, and become the sort of lurking man who, say, at work or at a party, mainly hovers on the outskirts of other people’s conversations, leaning close but not too close, listening in while gazing out vaguely over their heads in order to seem distracted and inattentive, waiting for the conversation to wind down, so that he can weigh in gloomily and summarize whatever has just been said.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Donald Antrim / The Emerald Light in the Air

The Emerald Light in the Air

By Donald Antrim
February 3, 2014 Issue

In less than a year, he’d lost his mother, his father, and, as he’d once and sometimes still felt Julia to be, the love of his life; and, during this year, or, he should say, during its suicidal aftermath, he’d twice admitted himself to the psychiatric ward at the University Hospital in Charlottesville, where, each stay, one in the fall and one the following summer, three mornings a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, he’d climbed onto an operating table and wept at the ceiling while doctors set the pulse, stuck electrodes to his forehead, put the oxygen meter on his finger, and then pushed a needle into his arm and instructed him, as the machines beeped and the anesthetic dripped down the pipette toward his vein, to count backward from a hundred; and now, another year later, he was on his way to the dump to throw out the drawings and paintings that Julia had made in the months when she was sneaking off to sleep with the man she finally left him to marry, along with the comic-book collection—it wasn’t a collection so much as a big box stuffed with comics—that he’d kept since he was a boy. He had long ago forgotten his old comics; and then, a few days before, he’d come across them on a dusty shelf at the back of the garage, while looking for a carton of ammo.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett review / A rewarding voyage into the interior

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett review: a rewarding voyage into the interior

A new debut collection from Stinging Fly, rooted in domestic and natural worlds, delivers on its intent

Sarah Gilmartin
Sat, May 2, 2015

Claire-Louise Bennett

‘No one can know what trip is going on and on in anyone else’s mind.” Maybe not, but Claire-Louise Bennett does her best to deliver such interiority of character throughout her debut collection Pond. The arch voice from Lady of the House, a story near the end of the book, teases the reader: “Has it really become an inclination of mine to reminisce in such a gratuitous way?”
There is little doubt of the answer. Twenty stories of varying lengths comprise this ambitious and writerly collection. There are one-page odes to tomato puree, reflections on the need for alcohol to engage with the opposite sex, an EE Cummings-esque short on the demise of a stir-fry dinner, amid longer ruminations on everything from the merits of control knobs on ovens to French girls with filthy corduroy coats.
Modernist in style, Bennett’s mostly first-person narrative is rooted in the domestic and natural worlds. Gardens, “privet hedges”, the titular water mass and the weather are the backdrop to the voice’s thoughts and realisations. Household objects – an ottoman, a mirror, a cooker – appear and reappear at various points to link the stories in unusual ways.
Despite this grounding in the real world, the narrator in most of the stories lives heavily in the mind and her memories, allowing space for fantasising and digressions. Come to this collection looking for traditional stories with linear plots and dialogue and you will be disappointed. Instead, Bennett offers her unique take on the world, snapshots of a woman trying to deal with life’s peculiarities, disappointments and sudden delights.
One of three epigraphs quotes Nietzsche: “For now in every exuberant joy there is heard an undertone of terror.” Fear and anxiety about modern life is a prominent theme. There are different types of fear – the humorously related “ratcatcher” in First Thing, who controls the hungover narrator as she makes her coffee; the stunning image of a photograph as “a concentration of captured faces” in The Big Day, or the more existential fear in Words Escape Me in the form of a dragonfly swooping down a chimney to terrorise the narrator, until she realises, “after all, being terrified seems quite normal, one learns to live with it”.
From Wiltshire, Bennett studied literature and drama at the University of Roehampton before settling in Galway. Her short fiction has appeared in The Irish Times, the Moth, the Stinging Fly and Gorse. She was awarded the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize in 2013 .
Bennett’s drama background comes through in her writing. It calls to mind the work of Eimear McBride, who also used her knowledge of performance to great effect in creating a distinctive voice in A Girl is a Half- Formed Thing. Many of the pieces in Pond would work well as monologues for the stage. The discursive style, range of topics and poetic language are offset by humour, which breaks up the pontificating and helps to clarify the moments of enlightenment.
The episodic nature of Pond recalls the great modernist writer Robert Walser. In terms of structure, style and theme, there are parallels between his The Walk and Other Stories and Bennett’s stories. From one-page elegies to longer musings on the nature of everyday existence, Bennett favours the modernist style of her predecessor and is similarly unafraid of losing readers in stream of consciousness technique.
The mix of darkness and comedy in Pond is impressive, confidently handled in a debut collection. In Morning, Noon and Night, which ponders the subjects of fruit, gardens, academia, lovers, Japanese tapestries, bicycles and chopping boards, the narrator dispenses her advice on almonds: “Be careful though, be careful with flaked almonds; they are not at all suitable for morose or fainthearted types.”
Moments later, the tone has shifted: “But shake out a palmful of flaked almonds and you’ll see they closely resemble fingernails that have come away from a hand.”
Other stories, such as Finishing Touch are laugh-out-loud funny, with its exacting and neurotic narrator professing she will throw an understated party: “I’m determined you see, quite determined to host a low-key, but impeccably conceived, soirée.” The narrator issues specific orders on what gifts guests should bring. She spends the night before combing the room, making sure “everything is in its place: awakened, accomplished and vigilant.”
It is easy to get lost in Pond amid the digressions and snippets of storylines, but the author for the most part convinces us to accompany her for the ride. We have been warned, after all, by that same lady of the house: “It’s perfectly obvious by now to anyone that my head is turned by imagined elsewheres and hardly at all by present circumstances.”