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Tall Storeys

Patrick Parrinder, 10 December 1987

Life: A User’s Manual 
by Georges Perec, translated by David Bellos.
Collins Harvill, 581 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 00 271463 9
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The New York Trilogy: City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 314 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 571 14925 1
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... Life: A User’s Manual is an exception, though it has clearly taxed the ingenuity of David Bellos. A chapter of humorous visiting-cards, for example, produces only one instantly cross-cultural item (‘Madeleine Proust: “Souvenirs” ’ – not one of Perec’s subtlest efforts). Luckily there are occasions when a bon mot in French can be ...

Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands, 5 March 2015

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... Western Europe reaches one of its fine points here, like Cape Wrath in Sutherland, Lleyn and St David’s Head in Wales, and Cornuaille in Brittany. In such places we come across peaks and juts of rock which look and feel like those in West Penwith: ‘look’ because they draw our eyes and feet like magnets, ‘feel’ because the whitish crystals of ...


Jonathan Meades: Archigram’s Ghost, 21 May 2020

Archigram: The Book 
edited by Dennis Crompton.
Circa, 300 pp., £95, November 2018, 978 1 911422 04 4
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... band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial practices and local authorities. They formed in the early 1960s and over the next decade or so produced thousands of designs for ‘cities of the future’ that were highly original, sometimes on the ...


Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier, 4 January 2018

... someone else back and that’s what neither of them was good at.28 March. Another death, this time David Storey whom I liked and found sympathetic, though I might run into him only occasionally and most often in M&S. It was always cheering, even if these days he was often shuffling as much from the medicines he was taking as from old age. But he would ...

Other People’s Rooms

Peter Campbell, 7 April 1994

Inside Culture 
by David Halle.
Chicago, 261 pp., £23.95, January 1993, 0 226 31367 0
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Michigan 
by Kathryn Bishop Eckert.
Oxford, 603 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506149 7
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Buildings of the United States: The Buildings of Iowa 
by David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim.
Oxford, 565 pp., £27.50, June 1993, 0 19 506148 9
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... David Halle’s researches earned him a licence amateur voyeurs would kill for. He got to nose about, more or less at will, in other people’s rooms. His study of the landscapes, portraits, snapshots, saints, masks and so forth which a representative group of Americans, in and near New York, have on their walls and shelves, of how they display them and what they say about them, required that he get to know more than a hundred and sixty different houses ...

Mr and Mrs Hopper

Gail Levin: How the Tate gets Edward Hopper wrong, 24 June 2004

Edward Hopper 
edited by Sheena Wagstaff.
Tate Gallery, 256 pp., £29.99, May 2004, 1 85437 533 4
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... subscribing to le dernier cri from Europe’. Rothko dominates an essay in the Hopper catalogue by David Anfam, the author of the Rothko catalogue raisonné, who notes that ‘so much has been written about Edward Hopper that perhaps one of the few remaining royal roads by which to approach him is via another massively interpreted artist.’ Anfam makes the ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... sacrificed the Lusitania to draw the United States into the war. Both Diana Preston and David Ramsay deal briskly and effectively with this. Churchill and Jackie Fisher, the First Sea Lord, were preoccupied with the escalating political crisis over Gallipoli. The absence of British naval escorts for the Lusitania in the war zone reflected the ...

Down and Out in London

David Cannadine, 16 July 1981

Rothschild Buildings: Life in an East End Tenement Block 1887-1920 
by Jerry White.
Routledge, 301 pp., £11.50, September 1980, 0 7100 0603 9
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East End Underworld: Chapters in the Life of Arthur Harding 
by Raphael Samuel.
Routledge, 355 pp., £11.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0725 6
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... on the oral testimonies of 16 former residents of Rothschild Buildings, who lived in these seven-storey, barrack-like dwellings from the late 1880s to the 1910s. The buildings, he explains, were ‘the ugly offspring of a reluctant paternalism’, the outcome, on the supply side, of redevelopment which took place in the area, made possible by R.A. Cross’s ...

At the New Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: Isa Genzken, 30 April 2009

... which explains the blank painted space between the two attached towers that frame the upper storey. (The design for Crane’s panel is illustrated in The Buildings of England, London 5: East.) You would hardly guess anything was missing; the building is a showpiece, Whitechapel High Street’s strongest and most interesting frontage. The ...

In the Studio

Rye Dag Holmboe: Howard Hodgkin, 3 June 2021

... to artist’s studio tell a story about London, too. When, in 1986, Hodgkin applied to add a storey to his house, one of the reasons he was granted planning permission was that so few people live in Bloomsbury; Camden Council didn’t want to risk him leaving. The studio also demonstrates his sense of what it meant to be an artist. Hodgkin ...

Strange Stardom

David Haglund: James Franco, 17 March 2011

Palo Alto: Stories 
by James Franco.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, January 2011, 978 0 571 27316 4
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... Actors don’t lodge in the culture as once they did,’ David Thomson writes in the entry on Heath Ledger in the latest edition of his Biographical Dictionary of Film. ‘They are a type of celebrity now.’ He contrasts Ledger, who died three years ago at the age of 28, with James Dean, who died 55 years ago at the age of 24 and became the standard against which all young, handsome, would-be acting geniuses in Hollywood are measured ...

What the Dickens

F.S. Schwarzbach, 5 April 1990

The Letters of Charles Dickens. Vol. VI: 1850-1852 
edited by Graham Storey, Kathleen Tillotson and Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 909 pp., £80, June 1988, 0 19 812617 4
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... that Dickens was then busy launching; one thanked a Sheffield firm (innocently mentioned in David Copperfield) for the gift of a set of knives; another attempted to patch up his lapsed friendship with George Cruikshank, who had probably been offended by Dickens’s attacks on his temperance pamphlets; another was a long, newsy report to a Swiss friend ...


David Craig: In the Barra Isles, 30 October 1997

... of eggs, the outermost plastered with guano like heaped drippings of candlewax from the next storey up. From round the corner I heard another razorbill trying to scare off the enemy with a deep gurgle like a coffee percolator. I slanted off to the right, ashamed of intruding on this high-rise maternity ward, and the birds sat tight. Across the 800-foot ...


David Trotter: Bearness, 7 November 2019

... evenly up the slopes of the surrounding hills. On the valley floor sits a group of five single-storey concrete sheds with corrugated iron roofs, each opening onto a broad grassy enclosure. Dotted among the trees in the enclosures is an array of apparatus: platforms, posts, tripods, hammocks, swings. The enclosure in front of me also has a pool, and a ...


Christian Parenti: The opium farmers of Afghanistan, 20 January 2005

... fortified compounds, surrounded by thick, high mud walls. We are taken to a carpet-lined second-storey sitting-room, or betek. The room, in which we will eat and sleep, is safely away from the family quarters. Our hosts are all big, burly men with beards, many of whom fought with the mujahidin warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar during the 1980s and 1990s. One of ...

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