Memoirs by those with painful experiences of mental or physical illness form an established and rapidly expanding genre. All three books under review have striking, perhaps faintly absurd, titles but they are all well written, spiked with wit, and thoroughly researched. Emotions are described with touching honesty. Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman, or A History of My Nerves is the most wide-ranging and academic as she moves through the history of neurology, psychology, pharmacology and psychiatry in her search for all possible explanations for the shaking woman she has become. She asks: ‘Who and what is she?’
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'She digs her images into her story, so that they blow up like psychic land mines when the reader’s perception brushes against them.'
Hilary Mantel reviewing Margaret Atwood: a #BookerPrize double-header from the archive.
In Ali Smith's "Summer", 'the coronavirus pandemic has arrived. Lockdown happens too. There are allusions to Black Lives Matter, to online abuse and radicalisation, to things so recently news that it feels shocking to find them in a novel.'
'Stevenson told W E Henley, the model for Long John Silver, it was "going to shoot up and become a star". Alas, it fizzled out like a cheap firework, as many of his projects had a tendency to do.'
Alan Taylor looks at the greatest novels never written.