sat 31/10/2020

memoir

The Secret History of My Library: Essay by Daniel Saldaña París

Books lost, left in houses I never returned to; dictionaries mislaid during a move; seven boxes sold to a second-hand bookstore… The history of my library is the history of loss and an impossible collection, scattered around several countries,...

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Ottessa Moshfegh: Death in Her Hands review - a case of murder mind

Death in Her Hands was a forgotten manuscript, the product of a series of daily automatic writing exercises performed by Ottessa Moshfegh in 2015 and then set aside to marinade in a desk drawer while the world fell apart. Moshfegh’s characters “zoom...

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Helen Macdonald: Vesper Flights review - nature lovingly described, nearly lost

Vesper Flights, Helen Macdonald’s first book following her incredibly successful memoir H is for Hawk in 2014, is an excellent collection of short pieces focused on the natural world. It’s wonderful to read a book on this subject, especially one by...

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Sharon Dolin: Hitchcock Blonde: A Cinematic Memoir review - a poet’s life filtered through Hitchcock’s lens

Poet Sharon Dolin’s memoir Hitchcock Blonde ends (no spoilers) in the same way as the famous English director’s Vertigo begins: with a cliffhanger. Of sorts. In the film, a rooftop chase gone awry leaves James Stewart’s Detective “Scottie” dangling...

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Alex Halberstadt: Young Heroes of the Soviet Union review - a familial history of the twentieth century

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been a collective examination of its past, with Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich at the helm. Young Heroes of the Soviet Union looks back at the USSR through the lens of the personal, much like...

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Bette Howland: Blue in Chicago review – the city on trial, with the writer as witness

You feel at times, while reading the collection Blue in Chicago, that Bette Howland might have missed her vocation. In another life, Howland – until recently almost completely lost to literary history – could have made a name for herself as a...

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Terri White: Coming Undone review - a British journalist unravels in NYC

The journalistic addiction-memoir is a crowded genre these days: Details editor Dan Perez chronicles his massive intake of Vicodin and other opioids in As Needed for Pain; New York Times columnist Eilene Zimmerman pieces together her husband’s drug...

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Moyra Davey: Index Cards review – fragments of the artist

Moyra Davey’s biographical note, included in Fitzcarraldo Editions’ copy of Index Cards, describes “a New York-based artist whose work comprises the fields of photography, film and writing.” It is a useful aperture into the Toronto-born artist’s...

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Feel Good, Channel 4 and Netflix review - a fresh, bingeable comedy that digs deep but feels mild

“I am not intense.” That declaration arrives early in Feel Good, the new Channel 4 and Netflix romantic comedy fronted by comedian Mae Martin, who plays a fictionalised version of herself. Over Mae’s shoulder, we see a literal trash fire. She’s lit...

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Pete Paphides: Broken Greek review - top of the pop memoirs

Think of the phrase “music memoir”, and you might conjure images of wild nights and heavy mornings. You’re unlikely to think of suburban West Bromwich and tributes to Mike Batt’s Wombles back catalogue. But then, Pete Paphides’s story is comprised...

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'You’re Jewish. With a name like Neumann, you have to be'

It was during my first week at Tufts University in America, when I was 17, that I was told by a stranger that I was Jewish. As I left one of the orientation talks, I was approached by a slight young man with short brown hair and intense eyes. He...

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Deborah Orr: Motherwell review - memoir, but so much more

Published in the year following Orr’s death at the age of 57, Motherwell is an analysis of the author’s childhood in Motherwell, on the outskirts of Glasgow, and her first steps into adulthood. However, while this book is ostensibly about Deborah...

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