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Veering Wildly

Kirsty Gunn: Jayne Anne Phillips, 31 July 2014

Quiet Dell 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Cape, 445 pp., £18.99, April 2014, 978 0 224 09935 6
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... The​ most interesting novels are always a bit strange. The stories bend and shift with the author’s own predilections; they reject the predictable progress of conventional plotlines in favour of something that feels more risky and open-ended. They often go off the rails, these books, veering into the wide open spaces of the contingent and unexpected, in defiance of the kind of fiction designed to match outcome with expectation ...

How the Laundry Basket Squeaked

Kirsty Gunn: Katherine Mansfield, 11 April 2013

The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield: Vol I 
edited by Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’Sullivan.
Edinburgh, 551 pp., £85, October 2012, 978 0 7486 4274 8
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The Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield: Vol II 
edited by Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’Sullivan.
Edinburgh, 541 pp., £85, October 2012, 978 0 7486 4275 5
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... Katherine Mansfield’s work is still largely unknown in this country. Her life flickered on the margins of British literary modernism, with friends among the Garsington and Bloomsbury set, but she was always the outsider, the traveller, always on the move. There’s nothing about Mansfield that’s institutional. She knew Woolf and Lawrence and the rest, published in the same avant-garde magazines, went to the same parties and talked about the same things, but the fact that her biography doesn’t sit comfortably alongside theirs, seems more insubstantial than theirs, is due as much as anything to her idiosyncratic form of writing, one with ‘no contact with the real world at all’, as Frank O’Connor disparagingly put it ...

Waving the Past Goodbye

Lorna Sage, 3 April 1997

A Regular Guy 
by Mona Simpson.
Faber, 372 pp., £15.99, February 1997, 0 571 19079 0
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The Keepsake 
by Kirsty Gunn.
Granta, 224 pp., £14.99, March 1997, 9781862070134
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... generation’ story seems pathological, given its penchant for regression. By contrast Kirsty Gunn, whose first slim and lyrical novel, Rain, was published three years ago and much praised, plunges with The Keepsake into a romance of repetition that is as familiar and fetishistic as a velvet-lined ...

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