Laura Gonzalez

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16 Aug 2013

A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark*****

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Reading dates: 04 August 2013 – 16 August 2013

A Far Cry From Kensington gave me nothing but delight. This is Spark in good form, mixing mystery — a case of anonymous letters — with sex, outrage and the publishing industry. It is interspersed with Mrs Hawkins’ good advice, from whom I learned a great deal of applicable tips. A banana keeps rheumatism away, before you marry someone see them drunk, if you want to lose weight eat half of everything, if you want to write a book, get a cat to help with concentration. In his wonderful biography of Spark, Martin Stannard writes that A Far Cry… is, together with Loitering With Intent, an autobiographical book. In fact, it is her revenge on Derek Stanford, which I waited to happen for most of my reading of Stannard’s book. And, as any revenge, it is sweeter when served cold. Spark portrays Stanford as Hector Bartlett, the pisseur de copie. She makes him an unequivocally despicable character, devious and vile, as shown in the scene where, as a dog bites half of his sausage roll, he dips the other half in mustard and feeds it back to the animal to make it sick. Bartlett costs Mrs Hawkins two jobs, but she keeps the moral high ground. She is not a pisseur de copie and she speaks her mind. There is dignity in that. Add Spark’s trademark non-sequiturs, her sense of fashion, her wonderful women (there is one called Abigail de Mordell Staines-Knight), death, her specific version of religion (appearing here as Hail Marys at noon) and waspish dialogue, and you will understand my utter delight.

A Far Cry … joins The Driver’s Seat, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and The Girls Of Slender Means, as one of my favourites.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Reading


2 Responses to “A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark*****”

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde*** said:

    […] is one of the book itself. Read his wonderful article. I should follow better Mrs Hawkins advice to consider the text only, when making a judgement about a book. This avowal of my partial view of certain books made me consider the question of why I read. I do […]

  2. Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark *** said:

    […] be a woman-artist. True, I did not like this novel as much as Girls, or Brodie, or Peckham Rye or A Far Cry or The Driver’s Seat. My reading experience had something to do with my rating. Yet, I found […]

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.