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Eric Hobsbawm: My Days as a Jazz Critic, 27 May 2010

... this direction), but I don’t know how far I succeeded, except for an admiration for Thelonious Monk and an immediate passion for the supremely talented and intelligent Dizzy Gillespie, the most dazzling trumpeter in the world, who lacked no gift except the willingness to reveal his soul, as Parker had done. My admiration for Miles Davis was based on his ...

That Wooden Leg

Michael Wood: Conversations with Don Luis, 7 September 2000

An Unspeakable Betrayal: Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel 
translated by Garrett White.
California, 266 pp., £17.50, April 2000, 0 520 20840 4
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... prisoners is led out to be shot by Napoleon’s soldiers. They include Buñuel himself, as a monk; Serge Silberman, Buñuel’s producer; and the writer José Bergamín, an old friend of Buñuel’s. They also include the uncannily familiar figure of my old acquaintance the doctor, Buñuel’s pal José-Luis Barros. It took me a while to place the ...

Comprehending Gaddis

D.A.N. Jones, 6 March 1986

The Recognitions 
by William Gaddis.
Penguin, 956 pp., £7.95, January 1986, 0 14 007768 5
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by William Gaddis.
Penguin, 726 pp., £7.95, January 1986, 0 14 008039 2
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Carpenter’s Gothic 
by William Gaddis.
Deutsch, 262 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 233 97932 8
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... writer, seeking religious experience in a Spanish monastery, is disturbed by a pragmatic Spanish monk asking for help in obtaining the important American book, How to Procure for Friends and Vanquishing Everybody. Mr Pivner, a true believer in Dale Carnegie, has a son called Otto who shows off in Greenwich Village about his experiences in Central ...


Christopher Tayler: The Fabulous Elif Batuman, 17 February 2011

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them 
by Elif Batuman.
Granta, 296 pp., £16.99, April 2011, 978 1 84708 313 5
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... as multifariously as dreams?’ Certain texts and people – Chekhov’s story ‘The Black Monk’, the futuristic philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov – bob up enigmatically throughout the book, as do thematically freighted, semi-surreal passages: ‘And still life goes on in Chekhov’s garden, where it’s always a fine day for hanging yourself, and ...


August Kleinzahler: My Last Big Road Trip, 2 December 2010

... in the inhuman landscape: from a distance like lichen and, on closer inspection, like blight. Monk and Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, Nat King Cole (the After Midnight Sessions with Sweets Edison, Stuff Smith and Juan Tizol), Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys, Ray Charles. And towards the end of the day, with the ...


Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... his arrival in New York, he was signed by Nesuhi Ertegün of Atlantic Records, who had produced Ray Charles and other R&B legends. Coleman knew that his ideas had a precedent in jazz tradition: as he noted in his liner notes to Change of the Century, free group improvisation had ‘played a big role in New Orleans’s early bands’.The initial response to ...

God bless Italy

Christopher Clark: Rome, Vienna, 1848, 10 May 2018

The Pope Who Would Be King: The Exile of Pius IX and the Emergence of Modern Europe 
by David I. Kertzer.
Oxford, 474 pp., £25, May 2018, 978 0 19 882749 8
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... witnesses speak of joy, delirium and intoxication. It was, one clerical observer recalled, as if a ray of divine love had suddenly descended. There were extraordinary scenes in the Piazza del Quirinale – the square in front of the papal palace. News got round the city that the pope had come out onto his balcony to bless a band of young men bearing ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... Like Godard, Raworth is fond of quoting from Samuel Fuller (Pick Up on South Street) and Nicholas Ray – and to hell with the subtext. The film-influenced books, westerns watched to survive the low-pressure weather systems of Colchester, shadow Godard’s career curve; until the lushness is burned out of both of them and the audience has to sit up and take ...

True Bromance

Philip Clark: Ravi Shankar’s Ragas, 15 July 2021

Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar 
by Oliver Craske.
Faber, 672 pp., £12.99, June, 978 0 571 35086 5
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... Allauddin Khan, perform at the All-Bengal Music Conference (Tagore and the 13-year-old Satyajit Ray were also in the audience). On the first day, Khan led an orchestra of local orphans playing a mixture of Indian and Western instruments; on the second, he gave a recital on a string instrument called a sarod. The following year, Khan joined Uday’s troupe ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... the Tour de France to the Nouvelle Vague. Trads followed Acker Bilk, Mods worshipped Thelonious Monk: even at fifty years’ remove, you can see how sharing the same club, city or country might have been problematic. If the Oxbridgey Trads had a philosophical pin-up it was Bertrand Russell, with Freddie Ayer for real deep kicks; Mods backed the darker horse ...

In the Hyacinth Garden

Richard Poirier: ‘But oh – Vivienne!’, 3 April 2003

Painted Shadow: A Life of Vivienne Eliot 
by Carole Seymour-Jones.
Constable, 702 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 1 84119 636 3
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... and diaries and subsequently in the biographies of Eliot’s London friends and associates. From Ray Monk’s Life of Bertrand Russell, or Hermione Lee’s of Virginia Woolf, or Miranda Seymour’s of Ottoline Morrell, there comes an abundance and, in its repetitiveness, an overabundance of testimony about Vivienne’s or Tom’s nervous as well as ...

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