Thursday, August 14, 2008

Number Four, Skin Lane

Toby Barnard has a great long piece at the TLS about the new edition of the Oxford Guide to Literary Britain and Ireland:
Inclusions inevitably prompt reflections on the distinguished salon des refus├ęs. Aintree racecourse hardly needs more punters, so neither Dick Francis nor Nancy Spain’s crash to earth there (with her lover) is mentioned. Spain’s detective stories are set in a girls’ school, Radcliffe Hall, modelled on Roedean. She was sued by Evelyn Waugh for alleging in the Daily Express that the books of his brother Alec sold better than his. What more does she need to be admitted to this particular Pantheon? The Guide’s aim (wonderfully achieved) is to amuse and inform. It is not conceived as an aid for the earnest, battling in high winds with a linen-backed Ordnance Survey map on the bonnet of the tourer.

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