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Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... is on the phone to the William Morris Agency. Standing in his office are Jerry and Joe – Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis – a bass and a saxophone player. Jerry tries to persuade Poliakoff to give them the job – three weeks in Florida with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators – but Poliakoff tells them to beat it, they require female ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Other Atticus Finch, 30 July 2015

... will not easily endure the information that she once wrote: ‘I don’t care what it is, Uncle Jack, if you’ll only tell me what’s turned my father into a nigger-hater.’ Imagine waking up to learn that Hamlet killed his own father, that Pip had been scheming for money all along. Imagine discovering that Sherlock Holmes, in a previous version, was a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese, 16 November 2006

The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... the poor. Actually, gangsters in movies are always giving things away to children and widows, as Jack Nicholson hands out groceries at the beginning of The Departed; but this is just one more expression of their unlimited reign. ‘Uneasy lies the crown,’ Nicholson says later in the movie, misquoting Shakespeare, probably on purpose. What he means is he ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels, 23 August 2001

... the perennial murmur swelling to a growl – is currently in crisis (again). Earlier this year, Andrew Marr certified it dead. (He was announcing the shortlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction at the time. His verdict may prove to be no less premature than Johnson’s pronouncement on Sterne: ‘Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 10 October 2013

... on his enemies. The underling was working towards the Führer. Alastair Campbell, speaking on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics, thinks the proper analogy is with football. McBride was a rogue player so set on mindless aggression that he fouled people all over the pitch. He was like a footballer who was happy to kick his own teammates. I’m with ...

Now to Stride into the Sunlight

Ian Jack: The Brexiters, 15 June 2017

What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit 
by Daniel Hannan.
Head of Zeus, 298 pp., £9.99, November 2016, 978 1 78669 193 4
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The Bad Boys of Brexit: Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign 
by Arron Banks.
Biteback, 354 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 1 78590 205 5
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All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 688 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 0 00 821517 0
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... each sent a Fortnum’s hamper for Christmas. He names the names: Simon Heffer of the Daily Mail, Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail, Christopher Hope at the Daily Telegraph and Caroline Wheeler at the Sunday Express. He even quotes Heffer’s thank-you note: he found the hamper at home when he got in after ‘an arduous day killing pheasants’. The team at ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson, 23 October 2014

Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... Flannery O’Connor, Chinua Achebe, Georges Bernanos, Kate O’Brien, Maurice Gee, Brian Moore and Andrew O’Hagan, have made a big effort. Others, such as James Joyce, have managed to weave religion into a larger fabric, with all the sheer drama of faith and doubt, and have managed also to include the comic possibilities of dogma and ritual to liven up their ...

Badoompa-doompa-doompa-doom

Graham Coster, 10 January 1991

Stone Alone 
by Bill Wyman and Ray Coleman.
Viking, 594 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82894 7
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Blown away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties 
by A.E. Hotchner.
Simon and Schuster, 377 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 671 69316 6
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Are you experienced? The Inside Story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience 
by Noel Redding and Carol Appleby.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 1 872180 36 1
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I was a teenage Sex Pistol 
by Glen Matlock and Pete Silverton.
Omnibus, 192 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 7119 2491 0
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Bare 
by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... not forgetting the manager, even, without whom there would he no gigs, hotel rooms or backstage Jack Daniels on the contract rider. And then there is the bass-player. The bassist is the other man in the band. This is the guy who is only the other half of the rhythm section: the one who only backs up the drummer: who keeps the beat without setting it: whose ...

Be mean and nasty

Jenny Diski: Shirley Porter’s Story, 25 May 2006

Nothing like a Dame: The Scandals of Shirley Porter 
by Andrew Hosken.
Granta, 372 pp., £20, March 2006, 1 86207 809 2
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... Porter was Margaret Thatcher’s mini-me; they were even both the daughters of grocers, though Jack Cohen’s Tesco proved to be a more lasting success than Alderman Roberts’s shop in Grantham. Porter rode high in public and party esteem thanks to a passionately media-friendly campaign to clear the streets of litter, and then by keeping Westminster rates ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... so bizarre. Let us lower the sights a little. There are distinguished poems here by Jill Bowers, Jack Barrack and (a practised hand, which shows) Charles Edward Eaton; from William Radice (a beautifully imagined variation on Virgil), and Mark Beeson (a similarly accomplished essay in the Dantesque); from Pauline Rainford, Monica Ditmas, Anne Stevenson ...

Walls, Fences, Grilles and Intercoms

Andrew Saint: Security and the City, 19 November 2009

Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st-Century City 
by Anna Minton.
Penguin, 240 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 0 14 103391 4
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... to target minor offences and endorsed by Mayor Giuliani in New York, was eagerly taken up here by Jack Straw but has failed to make a lasting impact on crime in either country. Minton also looks into the Asbo system, dominant until recently in the social policing of Manchester and some other cities. The legislation which brought in Asbos, she explains, came ...

Coughing Out Slogans

Andrew O’Hagan: DeLillo tunes out, 3 December 2020

The Silence 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 117 pp., £14.99, October, 978 1 5290 5709 6
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... news to him. ‘Our newspaper is delivered by a middle-aged Iranian driving a Nissan Sentra,’ Jack Gladney says in White Noise. ‘Something about the car makes me uneasy – the car waiting with its headlights on, at dawn, as the man places the newspaper on the front steps. I tell myself I have reached an age, the age of unreliable menace. The world is ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll, 1 December 2011

Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... Texas governor, John Connally; and Oswald’s own murder while in police custody at the hands of Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner. Despite these anomalous features, Kennedy’s assassination was – conceptually speaking – a straightforward event. While academic historians have had plenty to say about his politics and legacy, they have largely ignored ...

In His Hot Head

Andrew O’Hagan: Robert Louis Stevenson, 17 February 2005

Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
HarperCollins, 503 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 00 711321 8
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... colour, grace and music. Here he is at 15, writing a wee squib about the Pentland Rising: Master Andrew Murray, an outed minister, residing in the Potterrow, on the morning after the defeat, heard the sounds of cheering and the march of many feet beneath his window. He gazed out. With colours flying, and with music sounding, Dalzell, victorious, entered ...
Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 320 pp., $24.95, May 1996, 0 520 20407 7
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... business hang-out of the era, Jolson makes his first appearance as the mature Jakie, now known as Jack Robin. The entire scene is redolent of his liberation from tribal taboo. Jack wolfs down an unkosher breakfast with ragtime ebullience, turns a lusty eye on his gentile patroness and then launches into ...

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