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Thérèse Raquin
You know how it is. Your mother marries you to your sexless cousin and in silent defiance you enter a torrid affair with a peasant painter. All those...more
Sep 17, 2011
Sep 16, 2011
Popular Culture: An Alphabetical Contempt. a) Let’s not mince words. All populist entertainment is repulsive, useless, dangerous and witheringly anti-...more
not set
Jan 29, 2010
The Diary of a Nobody
11 April

Sat down to write a capsule review of The Diary of a Nobody. Interrupted by a loving thump at the door. It was Mark Nicholls from my review of...more
Apr 12, 2012
Apr 11, 2012
Notes from Underground

“ . . . we’ve all grown unaccustomed to life, we’re all lame, each of us more or less. We’ve even grown so unaccustomed that at times we feel a so...more
May 09, 2013
Nov 09, 2009
David Copperfield
Finished. Having a hard time spinning superlatives for this review. It is more or less established I strongly like, or passionately love, every Dicken...more
Aug 05, 2012
Aug 01, 2012
Barnaby Rudge
Is this the least-read Dickens novel? According to Goodreads, yes. Only 121 reviews on this one, with Martin Chuzzlewit a close second at 141. The rea...more
Jun 23, 2012
Jun 20, 2012
Jane Eyre
**spoiler alert** Tackling Brontëism #3—Jane Eyre

Matchmaker profile: Jane Eyre

Independent orphaned teenager seeks ill-tempered, unattractive landowner...more
Jun 09, 2012
Jun 07, 2012
The Pickwick Papers (Oxford World's Classics)
The middle classes in this country still aspire to some half-baked bucolic idyll—renting a farmhouse, living off the land, swinging on a hammock readi...more
Mar 08, 2012
Mar 05, 2012
The Canterbury Tales
When confronted with the painful choice of whether or not to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, I agonised for precisely four seconds and de...more
Jun 22, 2013
Jun 19, 2013
Fathers and Sons (Oxford World's Classics)
Tremendous. Forget the patchy, barely coherent A Hero of Our Time. This is your pre-Tolstoy, pre-Dostoevsky (almost—excusing a decade or two) Russian...more
Nov 14, 2012
Nov 13, 2012
New Grub Street
Gissing’s seminal novel is perched peculiarly on the precipice of modernism and the hard crank of technogeddon is hewn into every toilsome syllable. J...more
May 07, 2013
May 05, 2013
Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart, #13)
This novel is about as grim and horrendous as literature gets. Instead of ranting about the history of human suffering at various pitches of bowel-plo...more
Oct 30, 2011
Oct 29, 2011
Little Dorrit
Having not fallen fully under the sway of Dickens’s longest, Bleak House, we’re back to the savagely impressive corkers with this satirical and tender...more
Sep 22, 2012
Sep 16, 2012
The Karamazov Brothers
Note: This review was written on Nov 18th 2007, a week after my twenty-first birthday. Excuse the youthful clumsiness of my style.

Matters of Life and...more
not set
Nov 09, 2009
Gargantua and Pantagruel
That is why, Drinkers, I counsel you to lay up a good stock of my books while the time is right; as soon as you come across them on the booksellers’ s...more
Aug 16, 2013
May 12, 2013
The Masterpiece (Les Rougon-Macquart, #14)
You have this friend, a writer. He’s written this terrible bildungsroman about his tedious student exploits, I Want Vagina. You tell him tactfully tha...more
Jan 25, 2012
Jan 25, 2012
The Ladies’ Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)
Life in an 1860s Paris megastore. As capitalism staggers around on its bunioned feet, waiting for the next self-perpetuating excuse for sickening huma...more
Feb 08, 2012
Feb 07, 2012
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Island of Doctor Moreau? Please! Who among us hasn’t gambolled in fields with apecats, badgies, cockpigs, donrets, elephocks, ferrats, gerbats, ho...more
Apr 24, 2013
Apr 24, 2013
Mademoiselle de Maupin
More people should know about this pioneering feminist lovestruck poetical drivelling masterpiece. Your plot antics are bare: a poet looking for his p...more
Oct 20, 2011
Oct 18, 2011
Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9)
Zola’s ninth instalment in the Rougon-Macquart cycle tells the tale of steely-hearted coquette Nana—part-time actress, part-time prostitute, full-time...more
Jun 06, 2012
Jun 03, 2012
Bleak House
Roll back to 1986—I was touring with Loudon Wainwright III upon the release of his More Love Songs album (which includes the famous ‘Your Mother &...more
Aug 30, 2012
Aug 30, 2012
The Old Curiosity Shop (Oxford World's Classics)
Not too sentimental. Oscar Wilde was clearly in a bad mood. Boasts the evillest dwarf outside German folklore, the irrepressible Qulip. Cute kid (view...more
Jun 15, 2012
Jun 13, 2012
The Flowers of Evil
Superlative. Thrilling. Sensual. Naughty. Macabre. Joyous. Liberating. Essential. Poetry for the reluctant poetry reader, i.e. me. (A little distracte...more
Jul 28, 2012
Jul 27, 2012
The Nun
I’m applying for positions of paid work at the moment (known as a “job”—so I’m told), and after about a month of no replies I’m about ready to sign up...more
Dec 19, 2011
Dec 18, 2011
Martin Chuzzlewit (Oxford World's Classics)
Clipped Review:

Brill. Dickensian. Not ne plus ultra but close enough. More complex villains and heroes than precedents. Sublimely comic, including one...more
Jul 02, 2012
Jun 30, 2012
Agnes Grey
Tackling Brontëism #1—Agnes Grey

Firstly, let’s diagnose this phenomenon. I first encountered Brontëism—definable as a slavish devotion to every word t...more
Apr 28, 2012
Apr 27, 2012
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
This edition from Visual Editions expands upon, or at least emphasises, the typographical fancies Sterne deployed for his maddening nine-book digressi...more
Nov 04, 2012
Nov 02, 2012
Sunset Song
Attention Novelists!

Test 1

Have you written a dreary middlebrow novel set in a part of India, the Orient, or a sundrenched third-world nation? Is your...more
not set
Jan 29, 2010
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Tackling Brontëism #2—The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The second novel Anne wrote before she caught pulmonary tuberculosis shortly after her 29th birthday....more
May 15, 2012
May 15, 2012
Great Expectations
It is frustrating being slapped around the head by classics that leave you trouserless in a lukewarm puddle. Because the failure, as Mr. Gass points o...more
Oct 09, 2012
Oct 06, 2012
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