Thursday, 3 September 2009

Adam Thirlwell reviewed in FT by RTK

My write-up of the second (or is it third?) novel from Granta-endorsed wunderkind Adam Thirlwell appeared in the print edition of last weekend's Financial Times, and was duly posted online come the Sunday.
As I say in the piece, The Escape is a work unabashedly inspired by other works from great writers of days gone by. "There’s nothing wrong with that, though the degree of pleasure one takes from Thirlwell’s text might depend on one’s fondness for his source materials..."
I go on to thumbnail the book like so: "The Escape has been warmly endorsed by Milan Kundera and it’s recognisably a work in the Czech writer’s wry, pontificating manner, whereby the wise, wistful author invites us to look at a scene and then look at it again, so that its seeming sadness or silliness reveals yet another level of meaning. Thirlwell makes frequent use of the exclamation mark, usually a misplaced attempt to sound jolly, but this he dubs “the European vocative”, a manner fit for “addressing absent abstractions”. It’s ideally suited to this example of the Euro-erotic novel. One could go further and class The Escape as a “Jewish psychological sex novel of the absurd”, which is the thumbnail description Time magazine gave Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969..."

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The penalty paid for playing Old Trafford

Keeping a half-interested eye on the old League Division One - where, as usual, four teams dispute the top prize while the odd arriviste over-spender or cannily-organised XI try to crash the party - I find that this year, as most years, my neutral's vote is cast in favour of The Arsenal: the discerning qualities of Arsene Wenger's teams are plain for all to see, even though they have little to do with Highbury or Islington. Like Terry Collier, I hate Chelsea and everything they stand for - though I find I hate them less in the absence of the Special One; whereas for as long as Mourinho was pratting about the touchline like some B-movie Joe Cool I found that I could tolerate Man United - yes, that erstwhile boozy cup team with a penchant for buying crap strikers, until a Glaswegian martinet straightened them out, just in term to hit Premiership paydirt.
Said tolerance has now run out again, particularly in light of yesterday's existential injustice at Old Trafford. The iniquities of how penalties get given or not given on Man U's home turf need no analysis from me. The refs just have to live with themselves. But no partial set of statistics can save the Red apologists: when push comes to shove, Man U just get away with more. The beauty of Arshavin's goal was that the strike fizzed with fury over the spot-kick he'd been denied; and yet the player himself was delightfully insouciant after bursting the net, as if sure that truth and beauty would out. Sadly, ugly reality in the shape of Wayne Roooney was lurching round the corner...