Filed under American literature

Anthony Burgess and Utopias

Great literature often involves inventing new forms of language, and few writers have done this better than Anthony Burgess in ‘Clockwork Orange’, with a language for his thugs based loosely on Russian. This is his choice of dystopian stories. I’ve not read the JP Hartley or Mailer; I think my favourite is Ridley Walker, again … Continue reading

Minority Travel

We tend to take travel for granted in the internet age, but here’s some information on a book that should never have needed to be written: The Negro Traveller’s Green Book listing safe places to go. What surprises me is that it covers not just the USA, but Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean where such … Continue reading

PT Barnum’s Career Began This is an article from JSTOR, describing how the great showman’s career was launched by an elderly African American women who claimed to have been about 160 years old. After death she was anatomised and her age was dismissed, but as I reported elsewhere, in England there was a woman who was accepted as … Continue reading

View From the Bridge

This Arthur Miller play was broadcast live from London’s National Theatre a few weeks back, starring Mark Strong as Eddie Carbone. The stage was a square surrounded by a bench, with steps at the end, minimalism that is increasingly popular at the National. In the past I thought this was being lazy, but here it … Continue reading

Brutal Justice

This is an ad  from the Virginia Gazette of 1768: “Indian Creek, Northumberland County, Ran away from the subscriber, a Negro man named MANN, about 5 feet 6 inches high; he has a slit in one of his ears, gives very sensible answers, and is about 50 years old. He is outlawed from his threatening … Continue reading

One Last Mystery for Sherlock

I’m not a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the recent discovery of a story by the author, together with the ‘discovery’ of a Harper Lee story that had been assumed lost makes me wonder how many other stories are out there, mouldering in attics. It also makes me wonder if this will … Continue reading


When I reeled out of the cinema after seeing this film, I passed a group of pensioners who were complaining about all the drumming in it, and that they felt claustrophobic, and, oh, I don’t know what else. I wanted to hit them. They didn’t get it. They had just seen a work of genuinely … Continue reading

A Turkey for Christmas- The Homesman

This film seems to be something of a Marmite affair – people seem to love it or hate it. It is claimed to be showing the West from a female perspecitve, and yet the title refers to a man, so not a great start. Hilary Swank plays a single woman living in the wilds of … Continue reading