My review of Sean O’Brien’s first collection of short stories The Silence Room–which I thoroughly enjoyed–will be in the Xmas (print) issue of the TLS, 19th December.
Monsters of Landscape: It turns out that Vivienne Westwood & Hilary Mantel were born & brought up a stone’s throw from one another, in Tintwhistle & Hadfield, 1941 & 1954, respectively. Something about these places that can produce satisfyingly rogue talents–people who aren’t going to be fobbed off; who are going to tip the table over. It’s the stone, maybe. Tintwhistle hangs above the Etherow, indistinguishable from the quarries that gave it birth etc etc, gurning down on Padfield village (described by Mantel as “the hind brain” of Hadfield in this wickedly funny & useful 2005 interview). I loved Longdendale, which features in The Course of the Heart & many of the short stories (“Empty”, for instance) as well as in Climbers.