The Lit Review |53| Germain Greer 30,000 Word Love Letter

Germaine Greer’s Love Letters

A 30,000 word love letter penned by Germaine Greer to her former lover and writer, Martin Amis, has been discovered amongst an archive of Greer’s work, which she donated to the University of Melbourne in 2013.

Academic and journalist Margaret Simons came across these letters amongst thousands of Greer’s personal documents. An essay reflecting on this discovery will appear in the Australian literary journal Meanjin in December. Unfortunately Greer is unhappy that these letters might be published in book form, expressing concern that the publication of the letters will reveal breach the privacy of those named in it.

Simons has expressed regret over Greer’s trepidation, referring to these letters as having ‘real literary worth’ saying; ‘It is a fantastic window into the mid-1970s when people weren’t sure that the world wasn’t going to be destroyed by a nuclear war, when the cold war was dominant, when people were fighting for the right not to be married.’


The letters reflect then 37 year old Greer’s affection towards the 26 year old Amis, a journalist at the time for the New Statesman. She writes ‘You slide them away from most things and look at people through your thick eyelids, under your hair, your eyebrows and your lashes. You look at mouths more than eyes. Is it because you hate to look up? It is very shy and graceful and tantalising, as well you know.’

Sally Heath of Melbourne University Press, who is eager to publish this treasure trove, has suggested working with Greer to omit certain material which protect the privacy of some people referenced in her notes.


2015 Costa Book Awards

Anne, Enright, Man Booker

The shortlist for the 2015 Costa Book Awards has been revealed. Two Irish authors, Sara Baume and Anne Enright, have made the list this year. Baume has been nominated within the Costa First Book Award for her book Spill Simmer Falter Wither. Enright, previous Man Booker Prize winner, is in the running for the Costa Novel Award for her latest book, The Green Road. Winners in each of the five categories will receive £5,000. The announcement will be made on Monday 4th January 2016.

The overall winner of the 2015 Costa Book of the Year will receive £30,000 and will be selected and announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in central London on Tuesday 26th January 2016.

The shortlist for the Costa Short Story award will also be announced on 30th November. This is open to all unpublished submissions submitted by an author aged 18 years and older. The winner will receive prize money of £3,500. The author in second place will receive £1,500 whilst that in third place will receive £500.

You can view the full list of nominees this year, here.


 Who is the Best at Bad Sex?


Now in its 23rd year, the Literary Review has announced its nominees for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, ‘to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them’.

Last year, Richard Flanagan also took home the Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his book Narrow Road to the Deep North. Despite also winning the prestigious Man Booker, Flanagan didn’t quite hit the mark with sexy lines such as, ‘he kissed the slight, rose-coloured trench that remained from her knicker elastic, running around her belly like the equator line circling the world. As they lost themselves in the circumnavigation of each other, there came from nearby shrill shrieks that ended in a deeper howl’.

This year, singer Morrissey is one of the front runners in a line-up of eight other writers. In his debut novel, List of the Lost he writes, ‘Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.’ God, is all of this howling really necessary?

Morrissey is joined this year by authors such as Lauren Groff, who writes about ‘gallons of milk evoking boobs’ in her book Fates and Furies. And Tomas Espedal who writes of Héloïse in Against Nature who: ‘rides above him the way she’d imagined that one day she’d ride a boy, a man, a beast’. Ahem, saucy.


New York Review of Books


The New York Public Library has acquired an archive from the New York Review of Books, an array of material providing ‘unique evidence of intellectual life in the United States in the second half of the 20th century.’ The archive contains correspondence between editors Robert Silvers and Barbara Epstein, who founded the magazine in 1963, along with a series of contributions from literary figures and commentators such as Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag and Oliver Sacks.

Archived material also includes correspondence between Chomsky and Silvers during the Vietnam War era; debating the accuracy of sources reporting on the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Another jewel amongst over 3,000 linear feet of material is a nine-page letter from 1979 headed ‘not for publication,’; this was sent from Henry Kissinger who was displeased with a review by the political scientist Stanley Hoffmann of his book White House Years. Personal letters written by Oliver Sacks to Silvers emphasizing how important Silvers’ encouragement and editing was to his development as a writer and unpublished material, rejected by the Review, including pieces by Joseph Brodsky, Nadine Gordimer, Norman Mailer, Bernard Lewis, John Hollander, amongst others.