IN THE REVIEW

The End of the Tether

Intimate Memoirs, including Marie-Jo's Book

by Georges Simenon, translated by Harold J. Salemson
It would be unwise to regard any of Georges Simenon’s three approaches to autobiography as factually accurate. Pedigree (1948) began with the writer drawing a genealogical tree of the Simenon family, but became a book that although obviously based on the writer’s childhood and adolescence in Liège, has a protagonist …

Bottoms Up

Moscow to the End of the Line

by Venedikt Erofeev, translated by H.W. Tjalsma

Illuminations

by Tamas Aczel
How, living inside a totalitarian state, do you write about it? One answer is that of Solzhenitsyn in Cancer Ward and The First Circle: you face it head on, making fictions almost directly out of personal experience. Other approaches, allegorical or symbolic, have landed those who made them in labor …

Thrillernik

Gorky Park

by Martin Cruz Smith
If, as Auden suggested, the ideal detective-story reader desires an unchanging fictional world in which the same problem is endlessly repeated with minor variations, the ideal reader of a thriller demands almost the opposite, a fix of continuous novelty. The agent becomes over the years double, triple, multiple; he is …

Threats of Violence

Innocent Blood

by P.D. James

Another Part of the Wood

by Beryl Bainbridge
P.D. James is a mystery writer who with her new book has abandoned mystery. She began as a writer of orthodox detective stories in the English tradition. Her first book, Cover Her Face, opened with a tea party, and offered fairly conventional characters in a rural setting. But this book …

The Heavy Fantastic

The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction

by Ursula K. LeGuin, edited and with introductions by Susan Wood

Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales and Stories

edited and with commentaries by Eric S. Rabkin
“We like to think we live in daylight, but half the world is always dark; and fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night.” The rhetorical phrase that provides a title for Ursula Le Guin’s essays, notes, and speeches about fantastic fiction becomes less plausible the longer you look …

Gissing and the Cruelty of Life

London and the Life of Literature in Late Victorian England: The Diary of George Gissing, Novelist

edited by Pierre Coustillas
In February 1888 George Gissing learned that his wife Nell, an alcoholic and former prostitute whom he had not seen for more than three years, was dead. In company with his friend Morley Roberts he went to the wretched house in Lambeth where she lived, saw the body, registered the …

The Christie Mystery

Agatha

by Kathleen Tynan

Ten Little Indians

by Agatha Christie
First, the life. Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in 1891, the third child of an idle well-to-do American father, and a mother who was markedly sensitive and aesthetically perceptive. Her upbringing was unusual only in the fact that she never went to school, but instead was taught at home …