In the Critics this week

Bryan Appleyard on Evgeny Morozov, Gabriel Josipovici on Thomas Bernhard and Will Self on eels.

In the Critics section of this week's New Statesman, Bryan Appleyard considers Evgeny Morozov's angry polemic against political evangelism on the web, while T G Rosenthal explains the origins of his book in defence of L S Lowry.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft is enchanted by David and Gareth Butler's weighty tome British Political Facts and concludes that "every politically conscious home should have one". Olivia Laing's low expectations for Claire Dederer's yoga memoir Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses are exceeded, thanks to the writer's wry style. And Jonathan Beckman is grateful to the translator of Antal Szerb's Love in a Bottle for resurrecting the Hungarian writer's short stories from the 1930s. Marc Stears is not convinced by James T Kloppenberg's attempt to uncover the intellectual roots of Barack Obama's aversion to political conflict, while our Critic at Large Gabriel Josipovici extols the comic virtues of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard.

Elsewhere in the Critics, Ryan Gilbey is unshocked by the climax of Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Rachel Cooke wishes the casting of BBC1's Zen had been as imaginative as the Michael Dibdin book it is adapted from. Andrew Billen finds farce meaningful in the Old Vic's production of Georges Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear. Brian Dillon reflects on the Korean artist Nam June Paik, who turned television sets into art, and Antonia Quirke appreciates the fun James Naughtie has with the King James Bible. In his Real Meals column, Will Self talks pie, mash and jellied eels.

Show Hide image

Poem: "When the Americans came"

“Do you have vampires around here?”

When the Americans came,

they didn’t take to our gardens:

the apple orchard smelling of wild garlic,

foxgloves growing among the runner beans.


“Do you have vampires around here?”

a visitor from Carolina asked me.

It was a shambles, Wilfred knew that,

nodding wisely as though apologising


for the ill manners of King George,

the clematis purple in the thatched roofing.

But come the softe sonne,

there are oxlips in Fry’s woods,


forget-me-nots in the shallow stream,

lettuce and spring onions for a salad.

It’s certain that fine women eat

A crazy salad with their meat*


I tried to tell them. But they weren’t women,

and didn’t care to listen to a boy.

They preferred the red rosehips

we used for making wine.


Danced outside the village church

round the maypole Jack Parnham made.

Now they’re gone,

the wild garlic has returned.


* W B Yeats, “A Prayer for My Daughter”


William Bedford is a novelist, children’s author and poet. His eighth collection of verse, The Bread Horse, is published by Red Squirrel Press.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood