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The Absolute End

Theo Tait: Ali Smith, 26 January 2012

There but for the 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 356 pp., £16.99, June 2011, 978 0 241 14340 7
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... because one of the books whose absence was most complained of was Ali Smith’s There but for the. Jeanette Winterson said that Smith’s novel, about a dinner-party guest who hides in his hosts’ spare bedroom and refuses to come out, was a ‘wonderful, word-playful’ book left out because it didn’t fit the judges’ philistine criteria. There but ...

Big Rip-Off

Colin Burrow: Riffing Off Shakespeare, 3 November 2016

Shylock Is My Name: ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Retold 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hogarth, 277 pp., £16.99, February 2016, 978 1 78109 028 2
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Vinegar Girl: ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ Retold 
by Anne Tyler.
Hogarth, 233 pp., £16.99, June 2016, 978 1 78109 018 3
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The Gap of Time: ‘The Winter’s Tale’ Retold 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Hogarth, 291 pp., £16.99, October 2015, 978 1 78109 029 9
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Hag-Seed: ‘The Tempest’ Retold 
by Margaret Atwood.
Hogarth, 293 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78109 022 0
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... of comedies or tragicomedies rather than tragedies. It’s hard to read without some pain either Jeanette Winterson’s rewriting of The Winter’s Tale or Howard Jacobson’s of The Merchant of Venice. Part of the problem is that this series seems to operate on the principle that the ideal person to rewrite a given play must be one who shares an ...

Flame-Broiled Whopper

Theo Tait: Salman Rushdie, 6 October 2005

Shalimar the Clown 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 398 pp., £17.99, September 2005, 0 224 06161 5
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... fairytale. Again, this is especially true of its anglophone variants: see the tedious fables of Jeanette Winterson, or the eccentric but warm-hearted villagers of Louis de Bernières. These days, magic realism is deservedly out of fashion. But it’s worth remembering that it has been one of the great styles of the last fifty years. When executed with ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... EGO’ required to do the work? Simone de Beauvoir, Gertrude Stein, Hannah Arendt, Alice Munro, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Carson. Why am I even making this list? By the end of the book, I felt for Flaubert. ‘The humid element’, the ‘tears, chatter, breast-feeding … menses’, was too much for me, too. I was more comfortable in Part 1, where the ...


Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... elegy, Memorial, which revisits the Iliad, an ‘excavation’. There are other words, too: Jeanette Winterson has borrowed ‘cover’ from the music industry for her retelling of The Winter’s Tale. In earlier times, the rhetorical practices ‘emulatio’ and ‘imitatio’ were highly valued, taught to Shakespeare, and fruitfully pursued by ...
... been associated in the US with the feminist movement. Only a few lesbian novelists – Jeanette Winterson in Britain, Rita Mae Brown in the States – have become ‘crossover’ writers with a mass-market audience including, presumably, many straight readers. Perhaps a few more gay male writers – Paul Monette, David Leavitt and Armistead ...

Vermin Correspondence

Iain Sinclair, 20 October 1994

Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... worth his salt knows he’s the best, you just don’t come out and say it (unless you’re Jeanette Winterson). ‘That’s your perception,’ he mutters, modestly. Live with these contraries and the book sits up on its hind legs and barks. But keep a beady eye on the foot notes. Those below-the-line jottings are definitely not to be missed. They ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... of the pointedly inferior quality of the legacy. Speaking recently on Radio 4’s Start the Week, Jeanette Winterson described it as ‘vicious, vituperative and bitter’. Scheil remains calmer. The pages of the will, she observes, are ‘in different stages of finality’, so it is hard to know whether the bequest is a tardy addition phrased by ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... of her success. Kaveney remembers Acker having friendships with some peers and contemporaries, Jeanette Winterson, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Geoff Ryman, Kaveney herself; but she was susceptible to ‘Ackerlites’ and could herself be a bit of a climber and a user. ‘Neil remarked … that I was more important to Kathy than I realised,’ Kaveney ...

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