Author Archives: Frank Brinkley

Printing on Ice

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

If fine press printing had a spirit, she’d dwell, at least for part of the year, in the River Thames. Once, when England’s winters were harsher than they are now and the Thames would freeze over, enterprising printers would haul their presses to a city ‘frost fair’ – at one of which Woolf’s Orlando meets […]

The Soul Ajar

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

If the most exhilarating moment in the making of a book comes at the start, when capricious fate allows us to believe that anything can happen, then the most daunting comes right at the end, when the final proof, checked and returned, goes into production and no further changes are permissible. That moment is now […]

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I Ate All the Chocolates

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

James Watson, co-discoverer of the secret of life, tries hard before selecting a final title for his books. The story of his and Francis Crick’s race for the double helix of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, if you must) was variously titled ‘Honest Jim’ and ‘Base Pairs’ before Watson settled on The Double Helix, published in 1968 […]

Too Bad About the Novel

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Bam! … Biff! … Pow! – Look out! Here he comes … It’s Tom! Dapper Tom Wolfe in tailored pin-stripes! Black stripes on white, you notice, not the other way round. Ass-backward in fact – that’s Tom, turning the world upside down and inside out and setting it write again! Crack! There goes Bellow, knocked […]

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Where Does One Stop?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Anything – yes anything – put into human orifices to excess is a potential danger. There are vogues in danger and currently it’s drink, in the alcoholic sense, that’s being castigated. Jancis Robinson is a Master of Wine, a competent journalist – and a ‘young mum’. Her text, which l think might have been more […]

Kid Glove Treatment

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

I called my mother in the USA and happened to mention Michael Jackson. ‘Oh him – that weirdo. He’s funny.’ Not funny ha-ha either. So much for American Grassroots Opinion. It is true that Michael Jackson gets more than his share of unsavoury media attention, but it isn’t easy to ignore the tabloid sensationalism of, […]

He Nearly Goes Mad

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Sometimes I wonder why publishers bother to bring out anything as short as this book, especially when the cost will surely drive most buyers away. But The Pigeon answers my question. It would have been an act of pure wickedness not to publish this, which is if anything even better than Süskind’s last work, Perfume. […]

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Will Appeal Even to Anti-Wimmin Readers

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Long preceding the expression ‘politically correct’, the etymologically incorrect herstory became the extremist feminist substitute for history. More howler than neologism, the objectionable word never caught on, but it did neatly express the fact that most so-called history was in fact the story of men’s lives. Adjusting that imbalance has been a growth industry during […]

The Divided Elf

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

David Bowie is supposed to have said that he does not remember much about the Seventies, for which it is well known that cocaine takes the credit. But the business of Bowie biography does not significantly suffer, because Bowie refuses to talk to his biographers anyway. Judging from Alias David Bowie, by Peter and Leni […]

On the Go & In the Know

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The existence of Fashion depends on people buying more clothes than they wear out. If a garment is replaced only when it is worn out there is no Fashion, if it is worn beyond its natural replacement time there is ‘pauperization’, and ‘the more the rhythm of purchase exceeds the rhythm of dilapidation, the stronger […]

On the Trail of the Duke of Otranto

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

On holiday with my husband for a few days at the bottom of the heel of Italy recently, I found myself marvelling at the 12th-century mosaic floor of the cathedral at Otranto. It shows a tree of life twining through an idiosyncratic combination of Biblical, mythical and chivalric cycles, the labours of the months illustrated […]

Those Dark, Satanic Shelves

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The National Library of Latvia rears up like a ziggurat on the western bank of the River Daugava as it hastens through Riga towards the Baltic Sea. The building was devised in the decade and a half following the collapse of the Soviet Union, out of the ruins of which the modern democratic state of […]

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Ayşe Düzkan

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Turkey imprisons more journalists and writers than any other nation, so it is not surprising that it features in these pages so often. The books of two dissidents written behind bars have recently been published in English translation. Ahmet Altan (LR, April 2018) is well known in literary circles and as an advocate for the […]

Damage Report

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Rosie Price’s debut novel is a complex examination of agency and sexual assault. At university, Kate becomes friends with Max Rippon and his family. The Rippons adore Kate and she is quickly included in every part of their lives, but this relationship is ruptured when Max’s cousin, Lewis, rapes her at a party. Kate suffers […]

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An Accuser Calls

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

A pregnant woman living with her boyfriend in a seemingly idyllic community called Miden opens the door one day to a young girl. The girl comes into her home, is offered a cup of tea and accuses the woman’s boyfriend – the girl’s university professor – of having raped her. As they wait for the […]

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Life in the Big Smoke

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Will Wiles’s Plume begins with an explosion in east London that is felt by its protagonist, Jack Bick, as he sits in a Monday meeting and waits for the ripple to hit his phone. Bick is a journalist who writes profiles and an alcoholic, and the novel tracks a few days in his life as […]

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Lifting the Curtain

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

On 20 April 1912, a 64-year-old writer and retired theatre manager named Abraham Stoker died quietly at his home in St George’s Square, London. The Times was one of the few major newspapers to carry an obituary. It’s a modest piece, buried on page fifteen, and you have to wade through accounts of Stoker’s sporting […]

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