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Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones, 20 October 1983

The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... considered sinful in their time: they are Rahab the harlot, Bathsheba who was tempting to King David, Tamar who coaxed her father-in-law – and even Ruth, who crept under the bedclothes of Boaz, her kinsman. Does not this suggest that Matthew wanted to show that Mary was descended from ‘sinners’? This is far-fetched. We are not convinced that Matthew ...

Oddity’s Rainbow

Pat Rogers, 8 January 1987

Laurence Sterne: The Later Years 
by Arthur Cash.
Methuen, 390 pp., £38, September 1986, 0 416 32930 6
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Johnson’s Dictionary and the Language of Learning 
by Robert DeMaria.
Oxford, 303 pp., £20, October 1986, 9780198128861
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... with aberration and divergence. In his brave and inventive reconstruction, Wild Diversions (1972), David Thomson found a good image for it: ‘He did not live in the conventional order from day to day, but grew strong or weak like the wind.’ Obviously this has something to do with the vacillations of his physical health – Arthur Cash brings this out ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... tough keeping track of all the debutantes promenading into print and creating a stir: Donna Tartt, David Leavitt, Mary Gaitskill, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Nancy Lemann, Susan Minot, Mary Robison, Anderson Ferrell – a cast of dozens. Many of those rookies trained at the literary dojo of the author, editor, creative writing teacher and guru-mentor-mindgamer ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele, 6 April 1995

‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... an evening glove. So, too, did mid-Victorian Glasgow define the professional life of Alexander Thomson. Thomson (1817-75) grew up near to what was fast becoming Britain’s ‘Second City’. After 1800, Glasgow grew fat on the West Indian textile trade, diversifying during the 1830s into heavy industry. The disruptions ...

Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen, 14 January 2002

Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
by Damien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care 
by Lee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
by Christopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... a habit of dropping his trousers and removing his clothes when provoked and, famously, peeing on David O. Selznick’s carpet (in the middle of a meeting about a film version of A Doll’s House). He was articulate and rude to journalists, which also generated copy. ‘Booze, broads, all true,’ he told hacks. ‘Make up some more if you want to.’ Mitchum ...

In for the Kill

Inigo Thomas: Photographing Cricket, 17 August 2017

... he once said. ‘But it exists. It is just about the only photograph I have seen of Schindler.’ David Bailey, or Antonioni’s Blow-Up, was one model to follow, but Eagar went to Vietnam. When he returned he got a job at Which? magazine, where he says he ‘tested’ red wine. But photography was always the aim. In 1969 he photographed the images on his ...
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... role as though it wasn’t happening to me. I think that’s how I got the audience on my side.’ David Thomson admired Grant’s ‘rare willingness ... to take part in a fantasy without being deceived by it’. So much was he a self-parody in essence, or in style at least, that his play-acting nature became a running joke in his movies. ‘You’re ...

Whig Dreams

Margaret Anne Doody, 27 February 1992

A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain 
by Daniel Defoe, edited by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Yale, 423 pp., £19.95, July 1991, 0 300 04980 3
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James ThomsonA Life 
by James Sambrook.
Oxford, 332 pp., £40, October 1991, 0 19 811788 4
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... travelling on the muddy highways and muddier byways of England and Scotland, a young poet, James Thomson (b. 1700), was roaming the cold hills of Scotland. Defoe, who toured through the area where James Thomson was born, thought little of it: agriculture in Roxburghshire was in a pitiful state, the people suffering a ...

Preacher on a Tank

David Runciman: Blair Drills Down, 7 October 2010

A Journey 
by Tony Blair.
Hutchinson, 718 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 09 192555 0
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... the influence of his other great mentor and guide when a young man, the Australian priest Peter Thomson, who became Blair’s closest friend and confidant while he was an undergraduate at Oxford. When Thomson died earlier this year, Blair said at his funeral: ‘There are few people of whom you can say: he changed my ...

A Whale of a Time

Colm Tóibín, 2 October 1997

Roger Casement’s Diaries. 1910: The Black and the White 
edited by Roger Sawyer.
Pimlico, 288 pp., £10, October 1997, 9780712673754
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The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement 
edited by Angus Mitchell.
Anaconda, 534 pp., £40, October 1997, 9781901990010
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... howlers, there is no moment in the Black Diaries which settles the argument either way. Basil Thomson, who was the chief of the Special Branch created at Scotland Yard at the beginning of the First World War for the detection of enemy spies, interrogated Casement for three days after his capture. Thomson left five ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... and behind it lay the struggle of a very rich man to do good. In his role as owner-editor, David Astor had more freedom than any other journalist in London, but power made him bashful and uneasy. When, towards the end of Astor’s editing career, the South African journalist Donald Woods proposed a series of interviews with him, Astor suggested that ...

Owners and Editors

David Astor, 15 April 1982

... many millions of pounds in the past decade. Four enormous corporations – headed by the late Roy Thomson, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Anderson and ‘Tiny’ Rowland – have been involved in their rescue. And without the intervention of firms of this size, these papers would already be dead. It is unlikely, however, that giant corporations can play the role of ...

Górecki’s Millions

David Drew, 6 October 1994

... Many years ago a fellow American was rash enough to remark to the composer and critic Virgil Thomson that a certain distinguished composer of highly complex music had no real public to write for. ‘Nonsense,’ snapped Thomson, ‘he has the international Modern Music public to write for.’ But that was another ...

I even misspell intellectual

Rupert Thomson: Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor, 2 April 2020

The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon 
edited by Christine Flanagan.
Georgia, 272 pp., £31.95, October 2018, 978 0 8203 5408 8
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... that’s no bad thing: her blend of crackling violence and surreal wit often seems closer to David Lynch than Aquinas.The theological approach receives a predictably complete expression in Christine Flanagan’s edition of The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon. The two women were introduced by Robert Lowell, who had met O’Connor at ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... about his second film, Le Petit Soldat, he invoked Welles’s The Lady From Shanghai, which David Thomson has seen as ‘deconstructing’ film noir. Une femme est une femme reminded him of Lubitsch’s supposed ‘failure’, Design For Living, and Richard Quine’s decidedly minor My Sister Eileen. Godard treated Hollywood as a kind of conceptual ...

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