Books
The Manchester Review

Michael Schmidt | Gilgamesh, the Life of a Poem | reviewed by David Cooke

Michael Schmidt | Gilgamesh, the Life of a Poem | Princeton University Press: £22.00 The long poem known as Gilgamesh or the Epic of Gilgamesh is the most ancient literary text we have and the earliest surviving work of literature that has the power to move and inspire us. It predates the Iliad and the oldest […]

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Ian Pople

Carolyn Forché | The Country Between Us | reviewed by Ian Pople

Carolyn Forché | The Country Between Us | Bloodaxe: £9.95 Forché’s The Country Between Us is a reissue of a book which was originally published by Jonathan Cape shortly after its original publication in the US. It is a book of poems that documents Forché’s time in El Salvador as it was turning to civil […]

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Sam Webb

Ben Lerner | The Topeka School | reviewed by Sam Webb

Ben Lerner | The Topeka School | Granta Books: £12.99 A dozen-or-so pages into Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School, the narrator Adam Gordon demonstrates the professional debating technique known as ‘the spread’. A competitor proposes as many arguments as possible within their allotted time. The speech is quick and aggressive, ratcheting ‘to nearly unintelligible speed, […]

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Alicia J. Rouverol

Olga Zilberbourg | Like Water and Other Stories | reviewed by Alicia J Rouverol

Olga Zilberbourg | Like Water and Other Stories | WTAW Press: $16.95 In an era of ‘short shorts’ hailed in by the venerable Lydia Davis—and culminating in ‘the fragmentary’ in the recent Nobel Prize-winning work of Olga Tokarczuk—one wonders if there remains space for a new collection of shorts: stories that up-end expectation and offer […]

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The Manchester Review

Richard Clegg makes the case for Neil Campbell

Give Him A Reading: a review of Lanyards by Neil Campbell and a reading at Waterstones, Deansgate by the author, chaired by Nick Royle, on November 7th, 2019   When the team meets up to plan the Manchester Literature Festival, Neil Campbell deserves a place on any events list. He is one of the few […]

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Livi Michael

David Constantine | The Dressing-Up Box | reviewed by Livi Michael

David Constantine | The Dressing-Up Box | Comma Press: £14.99 In ‘Siding with the Weeds’, the third short story of David Constantine’s new collection The Dressing-Up Room, the protagonist, Joe, goes to visit his old friend Bert. Details of place are meticulously realised; Bert lives on a cul-de-sac on an estate of ‘Sunshine Houses, all […]

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The Manchester Review

Louder than Words Festival: Jordan Mooney and Cathi Unsworth, reviewed by Alienor Bombarde

Books, Ballet and Bodacious Backgrounds – Defying Gravity and Defining a Punk Ethic Jordan Mooney and Cathi Unsworth were interviewed by John Robb on Saturday, 9th of November, 2019, at the Louder than Words Festival Jordan Mooney, the punk symbol who disappeared from London in the 1980s, has come back to the public eye among […]

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Ian Pople

Justin Wymer | Deed | reviewed by Ian Pople

Justin Wymer | Deed | Elixir Press: $17.00 The title of this, Justin Wymer’s first book, certainly reflects the involving, driven quality of the poems between its covers. Wymer is not afraid to push the reader. And he does this not only in the subject matter of the poems but also in the impacted quality […]

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Sam Webb

Zadie Smith | Grand Union | reviewed by Sam Webb

Zadie Smith | Grand Union | Hamish Hamilton: £20.00 (Hardback) Since the publication of White Teeth in the year 2000, Zadie Smith has published her fair share of books: four novels, a novella, two collections of essays, dozens of journalism pieces and now a short story collection, Grand Union. And like the rest, this book […]

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Ian Pople

Michael O’Neill | Crash and Burn | reviewed by Ian Pople

Michael O’Neill | Crash and Burn | Arc Publications: £10.99 Michael O’Neill’s death in December of last year was a grievous loss to British letters. He was one of our finest commentators on Romantic poetry, in particular Shelley, whose collected works he edited with Zachary Leader, although these were not his only academic interests. O’Neill’s […]

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The Manchester Review

Two Memoirs:  Moby, Then It Fell Apart | Patti Smith, Year of the Monkey, reviewed by Richard Clegg

Moby: Then It Fell Apart, Faber & Faber: £14.99 Patti Smith: Year of the Monkey, Bloomsbury: £12.99 Moby and Patti Smith represent two distinct generations of American music. Moby is one of the leading creators of popular electronic dance music. His breakthrough album Play became the soundtrack for films, and many adverts. His videos have […]

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The Manchester Review

Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 (25 – 28 September), reviewed by Phil Olsen

A Partial Diary of the Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 (25 – 28 September) Phil Olsen Like me, the Cork Arts Theatre was established in 1976 (though I was never fondly referred to as the “CAT Club” in my early years). It is here that I arrived on a rainy late September evening to […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019:  ‘A Little Body Are Many Parts / Un Cuerpecito Son Muchas Partes’, 9/10/19, reviewed by Charlotte Wetton

‘A Little Body Are Many Parts / Un Cuerpecito Son Muchas Partes’ is one of those rare and lovely things: a poetry book with the original language and the English translation side by side. Poems from Legna Rodríguez Iglesias’ eight collections, written in Spanish, sit beside Abigail Parry and Seraphina Vick’s English translations. During the […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Isabel Galleymore and Stephen Sexton, Blackwell’s, 7/10/19, reviewed by Kathryn Tann

Introduced to Blackwells on a chilly October evening are poets Isabel Galleymore and Stephen Sexton, along with their shining debut collections. Both with previously published pamphlets, both lecturers in Creative Writing, yet both with a unique and distinctive voice; each takes their place before the keen audience to read and discuss their latest work. First […]

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The Manchester Review

Helen Tookey | City of Departures | reviewed by Sophie Baldock

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein, RNCM Theatre, 5/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase

Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein: Manchester Literature Festival at the RNCM Theatre in partnership with the Centre for New Writing, 5/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase On the evening of Saturday the 5th of October Jeanette Winterson gave a reading unlike any other. Interactive, dramatic, futuristic, her performance was electrifying. Winterson animated the audience with her insightful and […]

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Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker | Blazons: New and Selected Poems | reviewed by Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker | Blazons: New and Selected Poems, 2000 – 2018 | Carcanet: £14.99 There is a detailed, but never dry, attention paid in the poems in Marilyn Hacker’s new, Selected; an attention is not only to the things she observes, but, and this is a huge part of Hacker’s success, there is a real […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Common People at The Cosmo Rodewald Theatre, Martin Harris Centre, 5/10/19 reviewed by Charlotte Wetton

Review of Common People, Manchester Literature  I went to the ‘Common People’ event because I crave new stories and new voices. Working-class experience in literature is a rich seam not yet tapped. If I were a publisher, I would be signing up some of these debut writers pronto. Common People is an anthology of memoir – […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: David Nicholls in conversation with Alex Clark, at the Cosmo Rodewald Hall, Martin Harris Centre, 4/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Way

David Nicholls in conversation with Alex Clark The last time journalist Alex Clark interviewed writer David Nicholls in Manchester, it was, she says, a “mad experience” involving the police and broken microphones. David returned to Manchester on 4th October 2019 as part of his book tour for Sweet Sorrow – a story of first love […]

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The Manchester Review

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald: Literature Live at The Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 3/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald: Literature Live at The Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 3/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase An evening in time, out of time, about time. Last night the remarkable Alice Oswald and Paul Muldoon gave the Centre of New Writing an evening of laughter and reflection. Both poets chose from […]

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The Manchester Review

Rebecca Tamás | WITCH | reviewed by Rebecca Hurst

Rebecca Tamás | WITCH | Penned in the Margins £9.99 Rebecca Tamás’ WITCH answered a question I didn’t know I was asking. Before reading WITCH I heard the electric crackle of its imminence: from the social media marketing campaign and Poetry Book Society recommendation, to the sold-out pre-publication performance in Manchester into which I failed […]

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Ian Pople

Patricia Smith | Incendiary Art | reviewed by Ian Pople

Patricia Smith | Incendiary Art | Bloodaxe Books: £12 …and indeed it is. There is, perhaps, little surprise about the contents of much of this immensely powerful book. Given the events that are reported, and, as Smith would undoubtedly say, not reported, on our screens each day, Smith has a harrowing if ready stream of […]

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The Manchester Review

Pharricide (Confingo) by Vincent De Swarte, translated by Nicholas Royle. Reviewed by Richard Clegg

Pharricide (Confingo) by Vincent De Swarte, translated by Nicholas Royle. This short novel is a terrific read. It is always good to find a new author and I must admit this was all new to me. Vincent de Swarte wrote several books for children and five for adults. “Pharricide,” published in 1998, won the Prix […]

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Ian Pople

Three Pamphlets | reviewed by Ian Pople

Martina Evans, Michèle Roberts, Denise Saul, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch | Speaking Again: Poems for International Women’s Day | Rack Press: £5 Even though each poet in Speaking Again: Poems for International Women’s Day has a slim selection, four quite individual voices are present in this Rack Press pamphlet for International Women’s day. The importance of those […]

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The Manchester Review

Karen Russell | Orange World | reviewed by Livi Michael

Karen Russell | Orange World | Penguin Random House: £14.99 There are readers who feel a certain prejudice against special effects. Who might read Beloved for instance, as a historical novel, and be more moved by the story of Sethe, and the atrocities of slavery, than the device of the dead infant who is brought […]

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The Manchester Review

Rebecca Goss | Girl | reviewed by Eleanor Ward

Rebecca Goss | Girl | Carcanet Press: £9.99 “I spent the day being Rachel” is what Rebecca Goss tells us a few poems into her third collection Girl. It is one example of the many identities of “girls” we are to meet over the collection, and the many understandings of her own identity in the […]

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Ian Pople

Keith Hutson | Baldwin’s Catholic Geese | reviewed by Ian Pople

Keith Hutson | Baldwin’s Catholic Geese | Bloodaxe Books: £12 A book of mainly sonnets about, mostly long dead, music hall performers may not sound very entertaining… or, actually, it does, and is. But the point of the book is not only the recalling and regaling of lives which the vast majority of us are […]

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Ian Pople

Sally Wen Mao | Oculus | reviewed by Ian Pople

Sally Wen Mao | Oculus | Graywolf Press: $16.00 There’s a driven intensity to many of the poems Sally Wen Mao’s new volume. And this intensity is true even as she moves through a range of figures from popular culture from Anna May Wong to Janelle Monáe and Solange. In particular, Anna May Wong, who […]

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Ian Pople

Nina Bogin | Thousandfold | reviewed by Ian Pople

Nina Bogin | Thousandfold | Carcanet: £9.99 There is a lot of snow towards the start of Thousandfold, Nina Bogin’s fourth collection. And even when there isn’t snow, there’s snow, as in the beginning of ‘The Dream’ part 1, of Bogin’s sequence, ‘Visit to a Friend’, ‘I take a snow shovel, a laundry rack and […]

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The Manchester Review

Beverley Bie Brahic | The Hotel Eden | reviewed by Maryam Hessavi

Beverley Bie Brahic | The Hotel Eden | Carcanet: £9.99                And I carve out the bruises, the fine-bore                Tunnels of worms.                I slice the fruit thinly, until the white flesh                Is almost translucent,                I arrange the slices in the new pot from Ikea                                (I burned the old one),                Add a trickle of water                And […]

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Ian Pople

Jenny Xie | Eye Level | reviewed by Ian Pople

Jenny Xie | Eye Level | Graywolf Press: $16.00 The blurbs on the back of Jenny Xie’s debut volume, Eye Level, include the New York Review of Books, Dan Chiasson in The New Yorker, Tracy K Smith and Brenda Shaughnessy. This first book has clearly hit the sweet spot as far as the reviewers are […]

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Ian Pople

Forrest Gander | Be With | reviewed by Ian Pople

Forrest Gander | Be With | New Directions: $16.95 On the back of Forrest Gander’s new collection, the Washington Post is quoted with the comment, ‘A complex reading experience punctuated by intense beauty.’ It clearly takes a certain level of honesty to place such an ambivalent comment as part of a blurb. But there is […]

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Ian Pople

Ken Smith | Collected Poems | reviewed by Ian Pople

Ken Smith | Collected Poems | Bloodaxe Books £14.99 The slight sense of a jostling masculinity in Ken Smith’s poetry might be part of the reason that it is often described as ‘muscular’. In part, this jostling feels as though it rises from the abundant contradictions of his life and manifested in the poetry; that […]

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Ian Pople

John Koethe | Walking Backwards: Poems 1966-2016 | reviewed by Ian Pople

John Koethe | Walking Backwards: Poems 1966-2016 | FSG: $40.00 In a characteristically pellucid essay, ‘The Pyrrhic Measure in American Poetry’, John Koethe’s friend and fellow poet, Douglas Crase, sets out to analyse a particular characteristic of the American poetic voice. Crase links the vistas of the American landscape with a particular type of American […]

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Ian Pople

J. Michael Martinez | Museum of the Americas | reviewed by Ian Pople

J. Michael Martinez | Museum of the Americas | Penguin: $20.00 J. Michael Martinez’ third collection Museum of the Americas has an interestingly compendious feel which runs from the title of the volume through to the notes and bibliography at the end. An equally compendious sense of ‘the Americas’ as embracing North, Central and South […]

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