When Alex, a handsome Munich archi-tect, tries to tend his neglected vegetable patch, he finds it rotting. Attempts to remedy the situation are futile – the ground is frozen. This, it becomes clear, is a metaphor for Alex’s marriage to Sonia, a beautiful and successful fellow architect. The cause of the impenetrable frost in their marriage is Alex’s compulsion to sacrifice his life for snatched moments of almost sadistic satisfaction with a woman he finds plain and dull. In his forensically analytical new novel, Peter Stamm, a prize-winning Swiss writer, anatomises a marriage and the irrational urges that drive people to sabotage their lives.
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With just a few days to go until the first issue of the new decade, does anyone recognise the stern figure on our February cover?
'Fiona Shaw, in Jonathan Miller’s production, is the best shrew I have seen. She starts off in a mustard yellow dress with a mustard sharp tongue.'
From the archive, Kate Kellaway on a 1988 production of 'The Taming of the Shrew'.
'He was not a revolutionary at all of course. He was only marginally a socialist. His tradition was rooted in the Liberal aristocracy, and his politics were entirely bounded by Parliament.'
From the archive, Paul Foot on Tony Benn's diaries.