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Category Archives: review

Turning Japanese stomachs

Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima Penguin, 170pp, £8.99 . Born two years after the Great Earthquake of 1923, in ‘not too good a section of Tokyo’, Kochan is a sickly child, brought up by stultifying parents and a morbid grandmother. His first reliable memory is of the ‘night-soil’ man, and he immediately becomes [...]

An honest pisstake

Pissing Figures: 1280–2014 by Jean-Claude Lebensztejn (transl. Jeff Nagy) David Zwirner Books, 168pp, £11.95 . From a Cimabue cherub to Szydlowski/-lowska’s Lenin, simply everyone is pissing. In pen and ink, paint on canvas, plaster, wood, stone, polymer, block prints, engraving, chamber pots, aquatints, dishware, film, manuscripts, inlay, public statuary, trick-photography, and in a Japanese video [...]

We were musketeers once, and young

Long, ‘lost’ sequel to The Three Musketeers, reviewed. – For The Spectator

Egyptomania

Review of three books on Ancient Egypt: Egypt: People, Pharaohs, Gods, by Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen; Egyptomania: A History of Fascination, Obsession and Fantasy, by Ronald H. Fritze; and Writings from Ancient Egypt, by Toby Wilkinson. – For The Spectator

Heroes in error

Review of War Porn. – For The Spectator

Missing in action

Review of A Long Watch: War, Captivity and Return in Sri Lanka. – For The Spectator

Our foreign colleagues

Review of Tell Spring Not to Come This Year. – For The Spectator

‘Beyond describing’

A documentary about a documentary about the Holocaust – reviewed. – For The Spectator

Flak Jacket to Dust Jacket

Men at War: What Fiction Tells Us About Conflict, from The Iliad to Catch-22 By Christopher Coker (Hurst 325pp £25) My Life as a Foreign Country By Brian Turner (Jonathan Cape 240pp £16.99) Seamus Heaney once remarked upon the heroes of antiquity that it is ‘not so much their procedures on the page which are [...]

Eight debut novels

Currently sitting at 12 to 1 for this year’s Booker Prize, first-time novelist Paul Kingsnorth has set the cat among the pigeons through the disarmingly original expedient of submitting his offering in a fictional language. Composed in what Kingsnorth calls the ‘shadow tongue’ of ‘eald anglisc’, The Wake (Unbound 365pp £16.99) explores one angle of [...]