Wednesday, 29 October 2003

Granta 82

Listening to:

Mahler, the adagio of symphony no. 10.

Just read:

Granta 82: life’s like that (contents)

This is a good issue. An excerpt from Simon Gray’s diary, mainly about a holiday in the Caribbean leads off, and is an interesting read. Gray is a playwright (not that I’d ever heard of him), and writes well about smoking, being old, and a variety of other topics, including amusing speculations about other people. Bill Gaston’s story The kite trick starts innocently, but ends with an impressive, and creepy punch. Nell Freudenberger’s The tutor (more fiction) is also appealing.

The non-fiction is all good. In addition to Gray’s diary extract, Lynn Barber is very good on the con-man who seduced her as a teenager, and then wormed his way into her parents’ affections as well. She writes about it in a matter-of-fact way that makes it seem almost normal to be going out with a minor crook, and to have this relationship encouraged by one’s parents.

Kathryn Chetkovich’s piece, Envy, is very curious. It’s all about her envy of her partner’s success, who is also a writer. There’s nothing to suggest that this is anything other than non-fiction. Chetkovich doesn’t identify her partner, but a little web-surfing reveals that the man in question is Johnathan Franzen, who is indeed a very successful author. Though Chetkovich raises all sorts of interesting questions about the expectations that are heaped on women (she describes having to look after aged parents), airing all of this “dirty washing” in public still reads strangely. Maybe it was just a publicity stunt.

Finally, Tim Judah, a free-lance political journalist, has a very interesting personal narrative, which is also an investigation into the Jewish population of Baghdad. His own Jewish ancestors left Baghdad in the late nineteenth century, and this drew him into searching for the small numbers of Jews that are still there.

To review next:

Dominic Green, The double life of Dr. Lopez.

Yes, I realise that I haven’t been producing much other than book reviews recently. This is a combination of the fact that I am working my way through a reviewing back-log, and am all too busy with work.

By the way, it was ecstatic.

Finally, Real Life, the full review.

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