Monday, February 20, 2006

Elizabeth Young's Pandora's Handbag

left by a commenter on an earlier entry of mine: the obituary in the Guardian from March 2001. Pete Ayrton of Serpent's Tail gave me a copy of Pandora's Handbag, Young's remarkable posthumous collection of critical essays, and I basically devoured it & fell in love with its author and her personality and critical intelligence. (I gave the book away immediately and then bought several more copies and gave those away too, I think I am going to buy it again & give it away again as soon as I find the right person.) It's very much like the collection I would want to write myself, indeed; I realize that I may cheapen my recommendations here by my very free use of superlatives, but this book really is one that you must look at if you want to write about contemporary literature and are interested in seeing a supreme example of the critical voice and mind in perfect harmony in prose. It's fascinating and funny and highly readable. Young should be much, much better-known and more widely read, in the US (she had a particular passion for American literature, especially the Dennis Cooper-A. M. Homes-Poppy Z. Brite sort of nexus--the literature of decadence) as well as the UK. (Buy Pandora's Handbag at Amazon US or Amazon UK.)

And here's a host of other links: John Sears on the book at PopMatters; Roz Kaveney; Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian on Young as "a critic who was funny as well as right"; and a sort of meta-roundup of links that includes truly gorgeous pictures plus Will Self and Boyd Tonkin in the Independent.

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