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 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
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
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
‘When you stand before it, art disappears and something else rushes in: life, in all its tempestuousness.’ 86 Continue reading Maria Gainza: Optic Nerve
Jane Aiken the celebrated children’s author and daughter of the poet Conrad Aiken is possibly best known for the series that began with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and grew into a series of eleven deeply loved books. But did she down tools there? Not at all. By my reckoning she wrote about another thirty-four children’s books, then moved on to six novels based on the work of Jane Austen with titles like Mansfield Revisited and Emma Watson. Then there came another assortment of twenty-nine books, some of which are ghost stories, but I hadn’t realised that among these titles were a few cosy murders.
Continue reading Trouble with Product X – Joan Aiken
Are you looking for a new sport? Gert has just the thing for you:
hand to hand fighting with needles?
Continue reading Lawn bowls without the booze
Here in my rural fastness the weather is uncertain; one minute the storm lashes the eucalypts, the next the magpies are chortling and the sun sparkles on the leaves. Inside the fire is blazing and we are churning through the wood. Perfect weather to read a good meaty Victorian novel. Continue reading Basil – Wilkie Collins