As Manchester’s Literature Festival gets underway with a (sold-out) discussion of Literature and Sex at the Centre for New Writing which features Martin Amis, Will Self and Carol Mavor, the popularity of the literary event continues to grow. That event will be available on the Review’s podcast section, but The Manchester Review's third issue itself continues to mix new original work with discussion pieces. We feature another Writers Talk interview, this time between two leading science fiction writers, China Mieville and Manchester's Geoff Ryman. Following on from MJ Hyland's interview with Colm Toibin in issue 2, Ryman probes Mieville about the necessity for the novelist to be political, about the image of SF as genre fiction, as well as exploring how science, as much as politics and imagined alternate worlds, might continue to drive new fiction. Mieville is clear about his political motivation as he defends genre fiction and asks, by comparison, 'where, now, is the great liberal novel?'
The new Review features examples of the strength of contemporary literary realist fiction, including an extract from a work in progress by Granta 'Best of Young British' novelist Rachel Seiffert. Its picture of a relationship developing in Northern Ireland and Scotland is a new departure for Seiffert. The Scottish-Irish relationship is also prominent in Alan Gillis's new sonnets, which inhabit Scottish ring roads, motorways and ferry ports, the kind of in-between places that are the subject of David Gledhill's empty, atmospheric paintings, two of which are reproduced in issue 3, one showing the destruction of Manchester Ancoats in advance of a building project which has subsequently stalled. If Gillis and Gledhill hang a kind of gothic threat over the in-between spaces they treat, Ian McGuire’s forthcoming novel, Spontaneous You, finds comic adventure and misadventure in the in the in-between spaces generated by the mutual incomprehension of Anglo-American and East-West worlds.
The Manchester Review is also proud to publish a wide variety of new poems. A week after Manchester hosted the Conservative party conference, John Redmond’s poems about Oxford offer a curious angle on the Bullingdon-like activities of university undergraduates. A world away from those populated social poems, David Wheatley’s transcriptions from the natural world are echoed by the brilliant American poet Rodney Jones and we also publish a long poem by New Zealander Jenny Bornholdt, another poet who should be better known on this side of the world. Bornholdt's relaxed open style and Jones's fables offer oblique and sustaining angles on the mundane and fantastic worlds presented by other Review contributors, including, as Jones’ 'Chanterelles' has it:
songs with morals, light things
broadcast before the planetary
news on the underground station