Category Archives: review

The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood & Don Bachardy

Reviewed by Mark Simpson in The Independent (20/9/13) Contrary to what the pop songs tell you, the lan­guage of love is not uni­ver­sal. It really isn’t the same the world over or even on the same street. Everyone’s love affair is utterly unin­tel­li­gible to every­one else. It’s per­haps the whole point of hav­ing one. Which can make […]

The Anti-Christ Has All The Best Tunes

The P2P revolu­tion is like Gutenberg plus Protestantism plus Punk all rolled into one highly com­pressed file, by Mark Simpson  (Independent on Sunday, August 2001) Perhaps the best thing about digital music is that it doesn’t only make listen­ing to music more con­veni­ent and less irk­some: it actu­ally does part of the tire­some job of […]

How to Spot a Sodomite

Mark Simpson reviews some fam­ous Victorian bum holes in Neil McKenna’s Fanny & Stella (the Independent) “I had never seen any­thing like it before… I do not in my prac­tise ever remem­ber to have seen such an appear­ance of the anus, as those of the pris­on­ers presen­ted.” So test­i­fied Dr Paul in shocked tones at the trial of […]

The Few, The Proud

The myth­o­logy, the rituals, the dogma, the cult of mas­culin­ity and most of all the hair­cut, set US Marines apart. Mark Simpson takes a look at a mem­oir of the First Gulf War. (Independent on Sunday 23/03/2003) It may seem odd that the United States Marine Corps, the élite fourth branch of the US Armed […]

Mad Men and Medusas

Coming across this old review of Juliet Mitchell’s ‘Mad Men and Medusas’ (Independent on Sunday, 2001) reminded me that pretty much all the main char­ac­ters in the TV series of the same name launched in the late Noughties are hys­ter­ics, but most espe­cially Madison Avenue’s Don Juan, aka Donald Draper. I hope Mitchell is getting […]

Apollo’s Acolytes

We wor­ship the body, watch ancient battles at the mul­ti­plex, and bow down before the gods of celebrity. Mark Simpson mar­vels at how much our cul­ture owes to those skirt-wearing olive-munchers, the Greeks (Independent on Sunday 30 May 2004) Philhellenes are every­where, and every­where they look they see the glory that was Greece. “Today we are again […]

What Happens When a Giant Brain Meets Kylie?

Genius, pop Svengali, the­or­eti­cian of cool: Mark Simpson gets to grips with the man who really listens to ‘La la la, la la la-la la…’ (Originally appeared in Independent on Sunday 03/08/2003) What do you hear when you listen to ‘Can’t get you out of my head’? This is a bit of a trick ques­tion as you […]

Jungian Complexes at the Multiplex

This week David Cronenberg’s feature-length shrink cos­tume drama, A Dangerous Method, about the most fam­ous — and doomed — love-affair in psy­cho­ana­lysis, premières in the UK. I’m talk­ing of course about the pas­sion­ate, twis­ted and teas­ingly uncon­sum­mated romance between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Despite very mixed reviews I’ll be going to see it when it’s put on general […]

German-American Pride and Prejudice

Review of Bryan Malessa’s new novel The War Room, by Mark Simpson in The Financial Times. As an Englishman, I’ve always found the US to be a very German-flavoured kind of place. The organ­isa­tion; the pres­id­en­tial prin­ciple; the laws against jay­walk­ing; the love of tech­no­logy; the Protestantism. But almost nowhere do you find it acknowledged […]

Does My Brain Look Big in This? Susan Sontag’s ‘Where The Stress Falls’

This week is Susan Sontag’s birth­day. The fam­ous, and pos­sibly last American intel­lec­tual, died in 2004. Below is my some­what irrev­er­ent review of her last book (Independent on Sunday, 2002) The first sen­tence in Susan Sontag’s latest col­lec­tion of essays is eight lines long, men­tions Camus and Pasternak and ends with the word “impinging”. But […]