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Longing to belong in LiverpoolStill HereLinda GrantLittle Brown 1099 pp375Alix has been listening to Joseph an architect telling her about his style Makes you wonder what the definition of Jewish minimalism is she remarked lifting her coffee cup to her crimson mouth I suppose it would be I want the finest minimalism money can buy and I want it everywhereThats a typically Jewish joke but its the knowing tone that matters Its there too in the equally self-assured paragraphs Linda Grant has written for the press release accompanying Still Here She explains the functions of her characters and the controlling metaphor and also tells us that surprisingly Liverpool has had no chronicler in literary fiction - which may come as news to Beryl BainbridgeGrant is scarcely the first novelist to be wedded to a city - Anne Tyler writes in and out of the more careful corners of Baltimore Armistead Maupin celebrates San Francisco - but Grants attachment to place has historical and cultural resonance in the context of generations of wandering European Jews longing to belongHer exhilarating debut The Cast Iron Shore was largely set in Fifties left-wing America but the scenes with the greatest punch were those depicting the young Liverpudlian life of a furriers daughter in wartime and now Grant and her new heroine are making a comebackAs in Tylers Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant the book opens with adults assembling at their dying mothers bedside Forthright 49 and unmarried - I have a lust problem - Alix returns from France where she has lived having inherited a fortune from the sale of her mothers cold cream cleanser businessAfter the funeral her brother introduces her to attractive but married Joseph and from then on the chapters bounce between the two who attract and repel each other like magnets Alixs mothers final request that her children recover the family factory in Dresden sets up the arc of the novel with Alix struggling to
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