A few months ago I had the pleasure of hosting a public event here at The Centre for New Writing which was entitled, a little coyly I admit, ‘Literature and Size’. The topic that evening was the novel and the short story - what each form could do and what it couldn't, where they had been and where they might be going - and the discussion, which featured Martin Amis, Tessa Hadley and M.J. Hyland, moved fascinatingly around; taking in Kafka, Tolstoy, Austen, Munro and Nabokov among many others.
That evening – and, in particular, its slightly questionable title - came back to me when I was rereading the work we have included in this, Issue 6 of The Manchester Review. The issue begins (alphabetically at least) with C.J. Allen’s long and rather extraordinary poem, ‘Kasparov versus the World’, inspired by Gary Kasparov’s 1999 chess match against 70,000 opponents - a poem which manages to be both large and also strangely intimate. Elsewhere we have Rebecca Perry’s delightful Dickinsonian miniature ‘Wasp’ (“little lion. little nibbler./little face dunker. little duck.”), as well as smaller extracts from much longer prose works by Jennifer Egan, and Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts. Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit from the Goon Squad is a superb work of sharply written comic realism which has just won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award in America, and Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts’ Edgelands is a hugely original and freewheeling reconsideration of English landscape. Once you have read the extracts here, I am sure many of you will wish to read both works in their entirety.
I hope that you enjoy this new issue of The Manchester Review. Your thoughts and comments are, as always, most welcome.