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ABR Arts

Book of the Week

A Memoir of My Former Self: A life in writing

A Memoir of My Former Self: A life in writing by Hilary Mantel, edited by Nicholas Pearson

In the title piece of this posthumous selection of reviews, criticism, essays, and journalism, Hilary Mantel describes how she once visited an irritating psychic she nicknamed ‘Twerp’ in order to guide her back to her former self: ‘I didn’t necessarily think I had a past life, but I wanted to know how it would feel if I did.’ Her former self turns out to have been a ‘miserable illegitimate infant’ called Sara, born to a family of millworkers in the north of England. Sara isn’t an unlikely candidate: Mantel’s mother worked in a cotton mill from the age of fourteen, as did her maternal grandmother, who left school aged twelve; Mantel’s great-grandmother had been illiterate. Mantel comes from ‘a long line of nobodies’. All that ‘Twerp’ wants to ask Sara is whether or not she is courting, when the real love of Sara’s life is Billy, her white bull terrier. ‘If Sara had slapped him,’ Mantel wonders, ‘what sort of a defence would I have had to a charge of assault?’




From the Archive

November 2006, no. 286

Orhan Pamuk wins the Nobel

Turkish Novelist Orhan Pamuk, aged fifty-four and native of Istanbul, where he has lived nearly all his life, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. While his initial popularity in Turkey has declined because of the increasing complexity of his work, since the 1990s Pamuk has won increasing international acclaim as his works have been widely translated (Faber is his English publisher). Five novels have been translated: The White Castle (1990), winner of the Independent Award for Foreign Fiction; The Black Book (1994); The New Life (1997), a bestseller in Turkey; My Name Is Red (2001), winner of the IMPAC Dublin Award (2003); and Snow (2004).

From the Archive

April 2001, no. 229

What Did You Learn Today? by Mark Latham

In the midst of transition to the information economy, there is a need for thinking about learning in ways that will help us to reconstruct the education system, while enhancing its critical and reflective role, and improving equality of opportunity. This new book by Mark Latham, a Labor MHR, isn’t it, though at first glance many will think it might be. Consciously or otherwise, it’s a substantial surrender to new Right ways of thinking. Worse, it’s intellectually sloppy and rife with obvious and unresolved contradictions.

From the Archive

December 2011–January 2012, no. 337

Open Page with Frank Moorhouse

Storytelling in all its forms is one way of having something curious, strange, and comforting to say to others and ourselves when we are faced with the malaise of the real.