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Mini-Whoppers

Patrick Parrinder, 7 July 1988

Forty Stories 
by Donald Barthelme.
Secker, 256 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 436 03424 7
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Tiny Lies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 224 02560 0
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Ellen Foster 
by Kaye Gibbons.
Cape, 146 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 224 02529 5
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After the War 
by Frederick Raphael.
Collins, 528 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 00 223352 5
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... the War: at more than five hundred pages it aspires to the status of a grand social saga à la Margaret Drabble or C.P. Snow. Michael Jordan, sensitive and Jewish, has his first introduction to English mores at a boarding-school evacuated to the coast of North Devon. After the war he grows up to become a successful TV ...

Heavy Sledding

Chauncey Loomis, 21 December 1989

The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 
by Pierre Berton.
Viking, 672 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 670 82491 7
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Overland to Starvation Cove: With the Inuit in Search of Franklin 1878-1880 
by Heinrich Klutschak and William Barr.
Toronto, 261 pp., £17.50, February 1988, 0 8020 5762 4
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Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition 
by Owen Beattie and John Geiger.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 7475 0101 7
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... forceful and highly intelligent women, Kane’s weird affair with the famous ‘spirit rapper’ Margaret Fox. This humanising detail makes them, in a subtle way, not less but more heroic. Fallible human beings, sometimes even weak and neurotic, not romantically conceived supermen, lived through those terrible ordeals. Berton’s eye for selected detail also ...

On Thinning Ice

Michael Byers: When the Ice Melts, 6 January 2005

Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment 
Cambridge, 139 pp., £19.99, February 2005, 0 521 61778 2Show More
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... exacerbating climate change. The first such loop is already operating, as rising temperatures melt snow and ice and expose more open water and bare ground each summer: these darker surfaces reflect 75 per cent less heat away from the planet’s surface and this means further warming, which melts more ice and snow, which ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... interested in whether Simon Raven was related to Canon Charles Raven. The character Jago in C.P. Snow’s novel sequence is said to be based on the late Canon, and I found that my ideas of Jago and the real Canon Raven were almost inextricably mixed: this made me recognise that I would find it impossible to ask James Prior about ‘Peter Morrison MP’ and ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: A report from Malawi, 23 March 2006

... and he found favour in many quarters – in apartheid South Africa, for instance, and with Margaret Thatcher, who once spoke of his ‘wise leadership’ – but his influence seemed bleached out by many things, not least the glare of American television, which continued to play in my mind as we reached the dusty roads. Mega-Bite Take Away, said a sign ...

Wanting to Be Something Else

Adam Shatz: Orhan Pamuk, 7 January 2010

The Museum of Innocence 
by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely.
Faber, 720 pp., £18.99, December 2009, 978 0 571 23700 5
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... art – ‘this outstanding novel clamours to be heard.’ ‘Essential reading for our time,’ Margaret Atwood proclaimed in a New York Times review of Snow, Pamuk’s grim, Dostoevskian thriller about Islamists and secularists clashing in north-eastern Turkey. (‘Headscarves to Die for’ was the headline.) Pamuk’s ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice, 3 March 2011

Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... the versions disagree. Writing to Dodds to apologise for a one-night stand with a mutual friend, Margaret Gardiner, MacNeice says: ‘If however I had done any celebration, I shouldn’t have imagined that she would suffer over it.’ In place of ‘celebration’ Stallworthy has ‘calculation’, which seems to make more sense. Those hoping for letters ...

I scribble, you write

Tessa Hadley: Women Reading, 26 September 2013

The Woman Reader 
by Belinda Jack.
Yale, 330 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 0 300 19720 4
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Curious Subjects 
by Hilary Schor.
Oxford, 271 pp., £41.99, January 2013, 978 0 19 992809 5
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... me who, girlish and unlearned as I am, presume to write to a man who is the father of learning.’ Margaret Cavendish in her 1656 autobiography calls her own work ‘scribbling’ as opposed to her husband’s ‘writing’. The operations of this cultural cringe are intricate. How much is simply the formulaic politeness of eras more unabashedly hierarchical ...

Scotland the Bashful

Chris Baur, 18 June 1981

... accumulated behind the demand for constitutional reform disappeared like the springtime melting of snow drifted behind a dyke. The campaign for the Scottish Assembly which would have articulated Scotland’s sense of nationality actually won – but by so slim a margin that the plan itself could be wiped from the Statute Book, with the Scots themselves ...

Dynasties

Antonia Fraser, 3 April 1980

The House of Stuart 
by Maurice Ashley.
Dent, 237 pp., £9.95, January 1980, 0 460 04458 3
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... epithet. The grandson of Henry VII, the nephew of Henry VIII (his mother was the Tudor Princess Margaret), he began his personal rule by polishing off the enemies of his house, real or imagined, in a burst of destruction, executing or burning to death with enthusiasm. Again, it is impossible to understand the character of Mary Queen of Scots without ...

No Longer Here

William Deresiewicz: Julio Llamazares, 25 September 2003

The Yellow Rain 
by Julio Llamazares, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Harvill, 130 pp., £10.99, March 2003, 9781860469541
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... images and metaphors. Everywhere we encounter figures such as these: ‘the weight of silence and snow’; ‘the abandoned machinery of the mill and of my heart’. Physical and psychological qualities become interchangeable as objects and the emotions projected onto them melt together. The most important of these figures is the novel’s title. The yellow ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... Now, however, earlier feminist explorations are being rediscovered in the late stories of Margaret Oliphant and the novels of Willa Muir and Catherine Carswell. Young women writers are finding that they have a Scottish tradition behind them as well as imaginative and ideological links to work from elsewhere. Yet at least as striking is the way in ...

Driving through a Postcard

Christian Lorentzen: In New Hampshire, 3 March 2016

... Mention of Hillary Clinton induced fatigue. Even those fond of Bernie Sanders were ready to quote Margaret Thatcher’s quip about socialism and other people’s money. By this point the Bruins had beaten Buffalo, and the post-game shows were replaying a scene from another match where a player had knocked a referee down onto the ice. Later I watched a replay ...

Thunderstruck

Arthur Gavshon, 6 June 1985

The Falklands War: Lessons for Strategy, Diplomacy and International Law 
edited by Alberto Coll and Anthony Arend.
Allen and Unwin, 252 pp., £18, May 1985, 0 04 327075 1
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... Edgar Snow, the famous American foreign correspondent, once asked Mao Tse-tung for his appraisal of the social implications of the French Revolution. Mao reflected a while and then, shaking his head, said: ‘I think it’s still a bit too early to tell.’ The late Chinese leader’s caution might seem excessive even to the most obsessive historians ...

His spectacles reflected only my window, its curtains and my rubber plant

Michael Hofmann: Hjalmar Söderberg, 28 November 2002

Doctor Glas 
by Hjalmar Söderberg, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Harvill, 143 pp., £10, November 2002, 1 84343 009 6
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The Serious Game 
by Hjalmar Söderberg, translated by Eva Claeson.
Marion Boyars, 239 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 7145 3061 1
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... is a reissue of a 1963 version of the 1905 original, with the addition of an admiring preface by Margaret Atwood. A play, Gertrud, was filmed by Carl Dreyer; Doctor Glas has also been filmed; I don’t quite understand why these books and others of his – Martin Birck’s Youth, from 1901, and castigated, on its appearance, for being ...

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