Paperback reader

Black Cat

Martyn Bedford <em>Penguin, 232pp, £5.99 </em>

ISBN 014027289

Why is Martyn Bedford not better known? He certainly deserves to be, as his novels are among the most vividly imagined of any of the younger British writers. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that, because he prefers to write against the template of a thriller, his publishers - Transworld and now Penguin - seem at a loss as to how to market him. Is he a literary or popular novelist? Is he the heir to Ian McEwan or Barbara Vine? In fact, he is entirely his own man, and his fiction is as reflective as it is compulsive. His third novel, The Houdini Girl, is one of the most convincing meditations on loss and the unknowability of other people that I have read in contemporary fiction, and yet it is also a powerful thriller, steeped in the degradation of the skin trade.

His latest novel, Black Cat, is set in a remote English moorland town, where two disaffected young people, in retreat from their own unhappiness, unite to track down a wild cat that may or may not be haunting the surrounding countryside. The book begins conventionally enough, with some thin character sketches, but soon deepens into something altogether more impressive: an authentic metaphysical quest narrative. The final scene, in which a damaged young woman pursues her male attacker across a snow-blighted landscape, is wonderfully persuasive.

Jason Cowley is editor of the New Statesman. He has been the editor of Granta, a senior editor at the Observer and a staff writer at the Times.

This article first appeared in the 16 July 2001 issue of the New Statesman, How long have we got?

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SRSLY #13: Take Two

On the pop culture podcast this week, we discuss Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth, the recent BBC adaptations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cider with Rosie, and reminisce about teen movie Shakespeare retelling She’s the Man.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

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SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s web editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

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The Links

On Macbeth

Ryan Gilbey’s review of Macbeth.

The trailer for the film.

The details about the 2005 Macbeth from the BBC’s Shakespeare Retold series.


On Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cider with Rosie

Rachel Cooke’s review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Sarah Hughes on Cider with Rosie, and the BBC’s attempt to create “heritage television for the Downton Abbey age”.


On She’s the Man (and other teen movie Shakespeare retellings)

The trailer for She’s the Man.

The 27 best moments from the film.

Bim Adewunmi’s great piece remembering 10 Things I Hate About You.


Next week:

Anna is reading Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner.


Your questions:

We loved talking about your recommendations and feedback this week. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we've discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at], or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.



The music featured this week, in order of appearance, is:


Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 



See you next week!

PS If you missed #12, check it out here.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.