Janet Frame is one of New Zealand’s greatest writers. Equally famous for her memoirs, poetry and fiction the Manchester Review is delighted to publish her characteristically sidelong, subversive account of her father’s return from what ‘used to be called the ‘Great’ war’. At a time when the centenary of World War I looms large on the UK’s cultural horizon, Frame’s short, fantastical account resists the piety and national feelings stoked up by some more recent commemorations.
In an extract from his new novel Worthless Men, Andrew Cowan likewise approaches this fraught subject by focussing on local, family repercussions, as does Tom French’s meditation on ‘Fred Bennett’s Cigarettes’, while Michael Symmons Roberts pictures another aftermath of war when he presents a lost pilot in the sequence ‘Wounds’ from his terrific forthcoming collection, Drysalter. Symmons Roberts’ apocalyptic imagination is close kin too to the new poems by Gwyneth Lewis and Sebastian Agudelo in this issue.
Janet Frame is joined in this issue by another New Zealander, long resident in the UK, Kirsty Gunn, whose devastating story ‘Ghost’ acts as a counterpart to a story she published in MR 4. Other returning writers, Tom French and James Robison, also revisit themes familiar to their readers. Robison’s ‘Watergate’ deals with a story of power and illusions which also featured in the work of a recent visitor to Manchester AM Homes whose discussion of her new novel with our new Professor, Jeanette Winterson, may be accessed here.
These writers are joined by Rachel Cusk, returning in ‘Exposure’ to the subject of marriage and motherhood she controversially and originally treated in last year’s memoir Aftermath, Maurice Riordan whose tender, filial poems re-imagine the mother’s presence in the son’s life, and work by very promising younger writers, the poets Frances Leviston, Sean Hewitt and Luke Yates and fiction writers Nick Holdstock and Claire Powell.
As we move to this newly designed site, we are keen to maintain the onscreen integrity of the poems and prose we publish, but we also want to increase access to that material, so we have introduced a more interactive approach to the work’s presentation: we hope you enjoy the work in this issue and that you will use these links to help us to get the work out to fellow readers as well as returning to our new site for news of events, podcasts and readings, and reviews of new work.