Tom Williams

The lonely passions of Emily Hale and Mary Trevelyan

This year marks the centenary of the publication of The Waste Land, the poem that made T.S. Eliot famous. His story is familiar and yet still surprising. What is well known: Ezra Pound whipped The Waste Land into shape, it was published in The Dial and then The Criterion, and it was quickly recognised as

The price of courage: On Java Road, by Lawrence Osborne, reviewed

Lawrence Osborne’s novels are easy to admire. They tend to deal with characters trapped in morally questionable situations and their backdrops, from Macau to Greece, are often glamorous and exotic. Like any British novelist who deals with morality in foreign places, he gets compared with Graham Greene, but On Java Road, his sixth novel, owes

Gay abandon: Filthy Animals, by Brandon Taylor, reviewed

What does it mean to be a body in this world? It’s the question animating Brandon Taylor’s Filthy Animals. Our fleshy bodies and fragile minds complicate our experience of other people and isolate us from one another. As with Real Life, Taylor’s first novel, this short story collection displays his talent for rendering the precise

Apostle of modernism: Clive Bell’s reputation repaired

Clive Bell is the perennial supporting character in the biographies of the Bloomsbury group. The husband of Vanessa Bell, brother-in-law of Virginia Woolf and friend of Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey, he is often depicted as a witness to historical events rather than a participant in them, a sort of modernist Forrest Gump. At best

No longer the tough guy

Only to Sleep is the third Philip Marlowe novel written by someone other than Raymond Chandler and while the authors of Perchance to Dream and The Black-Eyed Blonde both found freedom to play with Marlowe and explore his potential, it is Lawrence Osborne who has run the furthest with the source material. The novel opens

Show business

Sport has never held much appeal for me, so I rarely venture into stadiums. But I do appreciate their peculiar power: I was present at the 2012 Paralympics when George Osborne ill-advisedly turned up to award a medal while engaged in a campaign against disability benefits, and was roundly booed by the entire stadium. It