Matilda Bathurst

A selection of short stories

How many debut collections does it take to stand up to one of the most accomplished short-story writers of the past half-century? In this case, it’s three against one. Under the Rose is Julia O’Faolain’s first short-story collection in over 20 years, bringing together stories published between 1968 and 2006. Danielle McLaughlin follows in her

Short and surreal

‘I just wanted the damn story to ask the right questions,’ sighs a disaffected journalist in Jack Livings’s debut collection of short stories, The Dog. Two other new short story collections, Lucky Alan by Jonathan Lethem and Jellyfish by Janice Galloway, are less interested in asking the right questions than in the opportunities for missing

The secret life of the short story

The short story likes to play the underdog. Famously unfavoured by publishers, it has none of the commercial clout of the novel. Denying itself the luxury of length, it is a martyr to the cause of shortness. When the short story writer Alice Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel prize for literature, she seemed to

What was Allen Ginsberg doing in Wales? LSD

‘Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,/ daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,/ grass shimmers green…’ The characteristic undulations of the voice of the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg greet the visitor on entering Wales Visitation: Poetry, Romanticism and Myth in Art at the National Museum Cardiff. Bearded and mellifluous, projected to mythic proportions

Fairytales of racism

A preview of Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird appeared in Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists issue in April last year, the decennial list identifying 20 writers under 40 as the names to watch. The previous four novels of the Nigerian-born Oyeyemi (who was first published at the age of 18) revolve around deeply psychological

Ann Patchett’s new book will win you over, in spite of yourself

Ann Patchett’s novels revel in the tightly constructed ecosystems imagined for their characters: an opera singer besieged among diplomats in the Orange Prize-winning Bel Canto; State of Wonder’s pharmacologist in the Amazon; a fugitive wife hiding in a home for unwed mothers in The Patron Saint of Liars. In this new collection of personal essays

Braque in full flight

Towards the end of his life, Georges Braque described his vision in the following terms: ‘No object can be tied down to any one sort of reality; a stone may be part of a wall, a piece of sculpture, a lethal weapon, a pebble on a beach… Everything is subject to metamorphoses.’ Since then, set

Dreaming in the Renaissance

The exhibition The Renaissance and Dream at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris (until 26 January 2014) explores how artists have wrestled with the furthest limits of the imagination, in forms ranging from the muscular elegance of Michelangelo to the luminous naivety of Lorenzo Lotto. In tackling a subject as inexhaustibly popular as dreams, the

Notes on…The house museums of Paris

It doesn’t matter how many times they expand the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, Paris’s past is so colossally rich that it could never be squeezed into its great public buildings. The city has instead developed its own breed of ‘house museum’ — ready-made monuments to its distinguished inhabitants. It’s not just regular tourist stops

Trading places | 25 April 2013

The Philippines: An Archipelago of Exchange at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris (until 24 July) brings together an impressive range of objects that demonstrate the fluidity of ideas and forms dispersed through exploration, trade and the blood of battle. The exhibition focuses on the fertile interactions between Filipino tribes and naval traders preceding the