:: Reviews

the irish book of the dead: a review of máirtín ó cadhain’s the dirty dust published 26/04/2016


Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s The Dirty Dust is not exactly well-known to Anglophone readers, though the novel is surely of a piece with the great literary works that emerged from Ireland in the 20th Century. It has Joyce’s linguistic ingenuity, O’Brien’s surrealism, and Beckett’s comic philosophy. But it is written in Irish Gaelic, and it had to wait until last year to be published in English, by Yale University Press.

Patrick O’Connor reviews The Dirty Dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain.

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The Girl Who Ate New York published 21/04/2016


John Ashbery described the late Lee Harwood as Britain’s best-kept secret; H.P. Tinker is another, even better-kept secret. His work has appeared regularly in the magazine Ambit, where I have read some of the stories; I have also read his first collection, The Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity (Social Disease Books, 2007). Lee Rourke devoted a chapter to Tinker in his A Brief History of Fables (Hesperus Press, 2011). But beyond a relatively small band of cognoscenti, he is largely unknown. So now is a good time to let others in on the secret. Because this is one of the wittiest, most allusive and elusive collections I have read in years. It’s frustratingly difficult — possibly impossible — to adequately convey its appeal for the benefit of the uninitiated. But I’ll try.

David Rose reviews HP Tinker‘s new collection.

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Saviour / Predator published 18/04/2016

For the most part, the text of What Belongs to You is unburdened by authorial scruple: it moves to its own rhythm, posing politically awkward questions with little inclination to answer them. Garth Greenwell’s combination of slick, economical storytelling with emotional depth and subtle, allusive moral acuity makes this a powerful and compelling debut.

Houman Barekat reviews Garth Greenwell‘s What Belongs to You.

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“If one day you invent the Master Algorithm… Open-source it” published

latimes david horsey

Domingos asks: “who should you share data with? That’s perhaps the most important question of the twenty-first century.” And he’s not wrong, but even this phrasing is too optimistic: who should I share my data with, as if I have control of it already, and as if all the other actors on- and offline will respect my wishes.

Timothy Kennett reviews Pedro Domingos‘s The Master Algorithm.

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The Unspeaking ‘Thing’: A Review of Rowan Evans’s freak red. published 06/04/2016

The flânerie of the fox into the urban metropolis is a ‘fleeting’ shuddering; the gentle yet petrifying chaos during the quiet hours, the disorientating pangs of tongue that lick the night-time air, the sound that reverberates from the ‘chatter of a beggar’s teeth’ in Artaud’s words.

Samuel Stolton on Rowan Evans‘s poetry chapbook, freak red.

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Protest in the digital age: A review of Shooting Hipsters by Christiana Spens published 05/04/2016


Spens asks a simple question: how do protest movements respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital age; what tactics work, and which are counterproductive? By analysing modern anti-establishment movements, from Occupy and Anonymous to ISIS and The Tea Party, she questions whether the Romantic idea of protest is still relevant in the Twenty First Century, and what form the ideal protest movement would take.

Thom Cuell reviews Shooting Hipsters by Christiana Spens.

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Vertigo published 26/03/2016


Not quite a short story collection, but not really a novel, Joanna Walsh’s Vertigo washes over you with quietly astounding force, leaving you haunted by its precarious beauty. Walsh collects a series of largely plotless vignettes — capturing fleeting moments in time from the perspective of seemingly dislocated protagonists — all of which are suffused with wry humour and an ineffable sadness. Together they impart a sense of melancholy and disjunction, with each story offering an oblique reflection on time, identity, love or loss so that the collection forms a beautifully coherent whole, tied together by the resigned, detached quality of Walsh’s style.

Thomas Storey reviews Joanna Walsh‘s Vertigo.

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Democracy squared published 25/03/2016


What does Stavrides means by commons and commoning? Common space is not simply an indeterminacy floating between, or hovering Third Wayishly above, the polarities of private and public spaces. It is a porous medium, encouraging the flow of ideas and interactions over and through thresholds that less hospitable spaces would tightly demarcate and regulate. In one of the more lyrical passages of his argument, Stavrides evokes Walter Benjamin’s comparison of the porous stones of Naples to the openness of its architecture, with its encouragement of spontaneity and improvisation in the liminal space between the private home and public square.

John P. Houghton reviews Stavros Stavrides, Common Space: The City As Commons

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Review of Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First published 15/03/2016


Writing a novel rather than straight biography gives Dutton the freedom to focus on the big, blazing moments of Margaret’s life, the interior world she inhabits as well as the external world in which she lived and produced her work, all interspersed with the domestic details that are the bread of life.

Sian Norris reviews Danielle Dutton‘s Margaret the First.

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You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life published 14/03/2016


Hankinson has used these testimonies, together with previous diaries, police evidence, psychological statements and media reports to piece together a narrative written from as close as possible to Moat’s confused mind. As a true crime novel, it fits in with that rich troublesome tradition stretching back through In Cold Blood to the Newgate novels and the notorious recreations of Jack Shepherd’s career. But this book still feels singular in its insistence on the documentary record and on only showing events as Moat saw and understood them. Not least because Moat’s point of view is so at odds with reality.

Sam Jordison reviews Andrew Hankinson‘s You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat].

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