Get Rich Quick

Posted on by Tom Fleming

It is interesting that none of the successful people in this book include ‘reading books about success’ as an essential requirement for reaching the top. There is plenty about luck, talent and determination but very little about sitting around reading about ‘opportunity fields’. This sort of book has been around for a long time, usually […]

Dirt Be Praised

Posted on by Tom Fleming

My former mother-in-law once bought quite a minor old master at a country sale. Reverently she wrapped it in sacks and old copies of the Guardian, laid it in the boot of her Mini and slowly drove it home. On arrival she noticed it was rather tight in its frame so she lovingly placed it […]

Posted in 083 | Tagged | Comments Off on Dirt Be Praised

Artistic Monomania

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Rilke’s life has been written about so often, variously and minutely that my first response to this book was cautious, if not niggling. Even in English, the literature about Rilke has long been more prominent and copious than the work to which he devoted his life, so exclusively as to have little time for what […]

Lost Threads and Common Pursuits

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In his novel, Enemies, Isaac Bashevis Singer has the character Masha interrupt one of her typically headlong speeches with the words, ‘Why am I bringing this up? Oh, yes!’ And she is away again. That fractional hesitation is so true, one can almost see her lost thread, the wispy end of it moistened between her […]

Interview: Peter Carey

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Peter Carey was born in 1943 in Bacchus Marsh, South Australia. He was educated at Geelong Grammar School, ‘where the children of Australia’s Best Families all spoke with English accents’, and then at Timbertop. He spent a year failing science at Monash University, before going to work in advertising, which intermittently he still does. In […]

Bogey Fogey

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Publishers are tremendous copycats; and ineffectual copycats at that. Someone scores a hit with Watership Down and, for a few years, you can’t get near the children’s bookshop without wading through imitative rabbit-sagas. Someone else hits the jackpot with The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and every Christmas since, our aunts and grandmothers have […]

The Florence Nightingale of Fiction

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In May 1860 George Eliot wrote to Major Blackwood, proprietor with his brother of the famous magazine, commenting on a review in The Times of The Mill on the Floss, just published. The reviewer, E S Dallas, the author of one of the best and currently most neglected Victorian books on critical theory, The Gay […]

Dark Age of the Steroid

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In the May issue of Cosmopolitan appeared the following letter: There’s no one I can talk to about this. I’ve been having a serious relationship with this wonderful guy for about three months. He says he loves me and wants to sleep with me. I’m fifteen and, although I love him very much, I don’t […]

Sweet FA

Posted on by Tom Fleming

(Christmas is drawing near and an interesting idea for a very special present has popped up. See end bracket.) But now, a competition. I’m going to write out six words. The magazine will give SOME MONEY to anyone who can guess, by the time they get to the end of the article, what the words […]

Interview: Raymond Carver

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Raymond Carver was born in 1939 in Clatskanie, Oregon. He grew up in ‘a little two-bedroom house’ in Yakima, a small town in Eastern Washington. After school he worked for six months in the same saw-mill his father worked in, beginning a series of jobs that included ‘janitor jobs, delivery man jobs, service-station jobs, stockroom […]

Janus-Faced Genius

Posted on by Tom Fleming

No star has been rising more rapidly in the critical firmament over the past decade than Mikhail Bakhtin, communist, Russian Orthodox theologian, revolutionary philosopher of language, founding father of historical poetics and uncanny precursor of much in contemporary poststructuralism. Bakhtin brooded for a lifetime on the incarnational unity of body and word, plucking from this […]

Umpire, Umpire!

Posted on by Tom Fleming

For cricketers in general and all aspiring captains in particular Brearley’s Art of Captaincy is an excellent book. It covers not only those areas of the game that concern cricket captains but also throws light on various cricket issues. Above all the book confirms to cricket followers Brearley’s grasp of the subtleties of the game.

Chippy Fellow

Posted on by Tom Fleming

This collection of his work shows that Edward Pearce, formerly the parliamentary sketch writer of the Daily Telegraph, was at his best when he was being straightforward. ‘Mr Heath, grey, dignified, dapper and snide’; or: ‘… a number of the dry little jokes for which Mr Foot was so noted before the domestic tragedy of […]

Inflaming the Chinese

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Modern Chinese literature is not in a particularly robust phase at the moment, but if you complain about this to an educated Chinese you will be told that, artistically, things haven’t been the same since the Tang Dynasty (618–907). That by common consent was the high point of Chinese culture. Mao Zedong was especially fond […]

Diet of Vodka and Asparagus

Posted on by Tom Fleming

There are eleven pieces in this book, and at least two of them are triumphs; perhaps to ask for any more would be greedy. London, Eastbourne, unnamed suburbs are the territory; the emotional territory is that of wilful, self-conscious eccentricity, and of loneliness – whether in a child, as in All the Pubs in Soho; […]

Pontificating Away in the Spiritual Ice Age

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Fans of Saul Bellow’s mordant animadversions on the modern condition will be glad to hear that he is still as deeply unimpressed with the way the planet is going as he was when he produced his last full-length novel, The Dean’s December, in 1982. No one (with the possible exception of Martin Amis, his most […]

Posted in 112 | Tagged | Comments Off on Pontificating Away in the Spiritual Ice Age

I Remember It Well

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Jeremy Lewis proposes, at the outset, a programme that is both modest and promising: a slice of autobiography that is entertaining, evocative of place, and in some way representative of many other equally unimportant lives: a middle-class chronicle between the late-1940s and mid-1950s. When writing about himself, he is always engagingly self-deprecatory, without ever being […]

Education in Aids

Posted on by Tom Fleming

What sort of audience do Mars-Jones and White have in mind for this collection of short stories concerning themselves with gay lifestyles during the AIDS epidemic: gay men, who for the most part hardly need to be told , or ‘straights’, who, prurient or sympathetic attitudes aside, probably do not want to be told anyway? […]

Dead Beats

Posted on by Tom Fleming

‘Over-writing had become an American tradition’ says Gerald Nicosia as he opens his discussion of Kerouac’s early book , The Town and the City. Moments of caution and concision are infrequent in a critic who mainly demonstrates that overestimation is an American tradition too. Elsewhere Nicosia thinks that Kerouac’s sequence Blues is ‘one of the […]


Follow Literary Review on Twitter