Monthly Archives: September 2020

Tara Westover: Educated



“I have been teaching in Cambridge for more than thirty years,” he said, “and this is one of the best essays I‘ve read.”

I was prepared for insults, but not for this…

I could tolerate any form of cruelty better than kindness. Praise was a poison to me; I choked on it. I wanted the Professor to shout at me, wanted it so deeply I felt dizzy from the deprivation. The ugliness of me had to be given expression.

Continue reading Tara Westover: Educated

Indelicacy – Amina Cain



She works as a cleaner in a museum. It is hard to work out the time and place. She speaks of carriages and long dresses, yet also of the beach and bathing costumes. She lives alone and walks freely through the streets. Sometimes she might eat a small meal alone in a cheap cafe. She has no family that she sees, and in the beginning, only one friend. She speaks later of visiting Brazil, but it is hard to get a sense of where she is living. Continue reading Indelicacy – Amina Cain

Roast swan with green mashed potatoes


If, like Gert, you love big personalities with a sizeable helping of the fraud or impostor, you’ll enjoy this article by Edward White in The Paris Review about Fanny Cradock, the face and voice of cooking on British television from the mid-’50s to the mid-’70s [who was] once described by one national newspaper as “a preposterous character, the foodie you loved to loathe.” She actually wasn’t much of a cook – mincemeat omelette, anyone? – but she was an excellent self-promoter, a brand before the time when celebrities were brands.

Continue reading Roast swan with green mashed potatoes

Amanda Lohrey – The Labyrinth, Vertigo

Amanda Lohrey is an Australian fiction writer. Over a writing career starting with The Morality of Gentlemen in 1984 she has written seven novels and one book of short stories. In 2012 she got the Patrick White Award, which seems to be a kind of consolation prize for highly regarded Australian writers with a solid body of work, who have never got the recognition they deserve. A few local awards, a Longlisting for the International Dublin Literary Award and that’s about it. But that is not to say she doesn’t take on controversial subjects. In The Morality of Gentleman she dives right into the politics of Unionism in her account of a complicated legal case from the 1950’s. She comes from a working-class background and says that her work is always political. Continue reading Amanda Lohrey – The Labyrinth, Vertigo

Zen there was Murder – H R F Keating


Having recently read on Calmgrove’s blog a review of Edmund Crispin’s The Case of the Gilded Fly I was reminded of another author whose work I used to enjoy around that time. A little investigation proved that he had actually attended the same school (Merchant Taylors) as Bruce Montgomery (alias Edmund Crispin) albeit five years later. But not for H R F Keating the tongue in cheek elegance of murder at Oxford. His first novel was Death and the Visiting Fireman; murder at a conference. His second was even more outre, murder at a Buddhist retreat. With a publication date of 1960, this was very unfamiliar territory for most English readers at the time. Later he went on to write the highly popular fiction set in India with Inspector Ganesh Ghote as his detective. Continue reading Zen there was Murder – H R F Keating

Rebecca Stott – In the Days of Rain, Kim Barnes – Hungry for the World:A Memoir

The Gert’s father was a very quiet man. He was either absent for months on expeditions or else sat reading books in foreign languages, occasionally growling in his throat if any of the subject matter went against his beliefs. Sometimes our mother said to us accusingly, ‘You know, your father’s a genius.’ Meaning what? ‘You don’t appreciate him?’ ‘You’ll never be as clever as he is, especially if you don’t do your homework?’ We would have loved his approval, but as we were all hopeless at Maths, there was no hope of that. Continue reading Rebecca Stott – In the Days of Rain, Kim Barnes – Hungry for the World:A Memoir