Benjamin Eastham

An introduction to Javier Marías

The fundamental purpose of the literary critic is to incentivise his audience to read books of which he approves. He has two means at his disposal. The first of those means is the recommendation by virtue of excellence, which can be reduced to the basic formula ‘look at this, this is very good, to read

Burroughs’s beat

William S. Burroughs is, alongside Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the third part of the Beat generation’s holy trinity. Yet while those two were long ago ushered into the canon, Burroughs’ writing has stubbornly resisted a comparable assimilation into the mainstream. A less conventionally romantic figure than the unruly Kerouac or the hippie seer Ginsberg,

Childish things

As the publishing industry comes to terms with the latest reports that the book is dead — this time at the hands of a digital revolution — we can count Penguin’s illustrated edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland among the reasons to be optimistic for its future. This latest version of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, for

Preaching the faith

The first thing to tell you about Lars Iyer’s Dogma is that it is very funny. It didn’t make me laugh out loud on the tube, which seems to be the reviewer’s traditional stamp of approval for successfully comic novels, but this is partly because I didn’t read it on the tube. Had I read

Pure puff

The era immediately preceding the French Revolution presents such rich pickings for the historical novelist that the relative scarcity of English-language fiction set in the period comes as a surprise. We might charitably suggest that our authors are intimidated by the long shadow of A Tale of Two Cities, or less generously remark that they