Time to go veggie? Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”

Max Barry’s novel “Jennifer Government” (2003) is one of the best novels I have read recently. Similar in style to Huxley’s dystopian, satirical “Brave New World”, Barry’s comic exploration of modern society is full of brilliantly humorous moments and scarily possible (or probable?) predictions about the future. According to this account of the not-so-distant fate of the USA, the balance between the power of the … Continue reading Time to go veggie? Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”

‘Neither East nor West’: Chicken Tikka in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

As it often happens, it is not quite the best lines of poetry that are remembered in popular culture: rather, I sometimes think, the most awkward-sounding. Kipling’s phrases ‘East is East’ and ‘West is West’ (from ‘The Ballad of East and West’, 1899) have been heavily exploited over the years. Interestingly, the former phrase seems to have inspired a lot of restaurant owners across the … Continue reading ‘Neither East nor West’: Chicken Tikka in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)

Endlessly Surprising: Spanish Omelette in Louis MacNeice’s “Autumn Journal” (1939)

To read the poetry of Louis MacNeice is an endlessly rewarding activity. It can be intricately beautiful and philosophically insightful, but politically and culturally astute at the same time. Every time I come to write about MacNeice (which I have done often over the previous eight years), I am surprised again at the deft placement of a word, the freshness of an image, or his … Continue reading Endlessly Surprising: Spanish Omelette in Louis MacNeice’s “Autumn Journal” (1939)

Inject a bit of colour into your summer with “Changing Places” by David Lodge

David Lodge’s Changing Places is absolutely my favourite comic novel. If you haven’t read it, you should do so immediately. From the startling, original, precise, intriguing first sentence, Lodge tells the story of two lecturers of English Literature who swap jobs, continents – and then houses and families – for six months. The novel’s scope takes in the ever-changing scene of academic and modern life … Continue reading Inject a bit of colour into your summer with “Changing Places” by David Lodge

Places and pies in Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome” (1911)

Welcome back to the Literary Kitchen! As the last leaves fall and December arrives we leave Belfast (see the last post below) to embark on the long journey to the New World. More specifically, to the symbolically named Starkfield, New England, at the turn of the twentieth century. Spaces and places are central to all of Wharton’s novels, and Ethan Frome is no exception. However, … Continue reading Places and pies in Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome” (1911)