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Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... she said to a friend, ‘we’re good at media images.’ But as she wrote in her picaresque novel Don Quixote, ‘even a woman who has the soul of a pirate … who is a freak in our society, needs a home.’Acker, Kraus thinks, staked her all on a bid to become a ‘Great Writer as Countercultural Hero’, a position no woman had held before her, and I’m ...

Fade to Greige

Elaine Showalter: Mad for the Handcuff Bracelets, 4 January 2001

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion 
by Holly Brubach.
Phaidon, 232 pp., £19.95, October 1999, 9780714838878
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Fashion Today 
by Colin McDowell.
Phaidon, 511 pp., £39.95, September 2000, 0 7148 3897 7
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Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Society in Clothing 
by Diana Crane.
Chicago, 294 pp., £19, August 2000, 0 226 11798 7
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Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries 
by Avril Hart and Susan North.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 223 pp., £19.95, October 2000, 1 85177 258 8
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Don We Now Our Gay Appalrel: Gay Men’s Dress in the 20th Century 
by Shuan Cole.
Berg, 224 pp., £42.99, September 2000, 1 85973 415 4
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The Gallery of Fashion 
by Aileen Ribeiro.
Princeton, 256 pp., £60, November 2000, 0 691 05092 9
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Giorgio Armani 
by Germano Celant and Harold Koda.
Abrams, 392 pp., £40, October 2000, 0 8109 6927 0
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... the archives may be woefully incomplete. ‘Even in the Armani show,’ Steele laments, ‘you don’t see much early work.’ Antonio Lopez’s drawing of designs by Emmanuelle Kahn, from ‘Elle’ (1967). Colin McDowell describes ‘Antonio’ as the most important fashion illustrator of the last forty years. He knew absolutely everyone – from ...

Magnifico

David Bromwich: This was Orson Welles, 3 June 2004

Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life 
by Peter Conrad.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20978 5
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... on the black market so that its victims fill the hospitals. ‘Victims?’ Harry says. ‘Don’t be melodramatic, Holly. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving for ever?’ This speech, as written, marks Harry as evil, yet since the writer is Greene, Harry is perversely on the side of life, while his ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... The Manchurian Candidate began as a novel by Richard Condon, who with Don DeLillo has done more to anatomise and dramatise the world of covert action than any ‘authorised’ chronicler. Before discussing Norman Mailer’s magisterial bid for dominance in this field, I want to use Richard Condon to anticipate a common liberal ...

English Art and English Rubbish

Peter Campbell, 20 March 1986

C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist 
by Alan Crawford.
Yale, 500 pp., £35, November 1985, 0 300 03467 9
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The Laughter and the Urn: The Life of Rex Whistler 
by Laurence Whistler.
Weidenfeld, 321 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78603 2
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The Originality of Thomas Jones 
by Lawrence Gowing.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £4.95, February 1986, 0 500 55017 4
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Art beyond the Gallery in Early 20th-century England 
by Richard Cork.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, April 1985, 0 300 03236 6
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Alfred Gilbert 
by Richard Dorment.
Yale, 350 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 300 03388 5
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... This truth to the ideals of a handcrafted world, and the social relations which it would foster, simplified – or blinkered – his view of things; he could believe in solutions where a more worldly commentator would see no hope. Called in to advise on the planning of Jerusalem at the time of the Balfour Declaration, he encouraged Chipping ...

Hoogah-Boogah

James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... Like Eggers (whose memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was puffed by Moody), David Foster Wallace and William T. Vollmann, Moody spurns the eye-dropper technique of minimalism that was fashionable when he was a nervous colt in the 1980s in favour of a bachelor-guy pack-rat approach where everything the author has ever seen, read, felt or heard ...

Itemised

Fredric Jameson, 8 November 2018

My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... here with Six, maybe you ought to read Book 1 first. Q. Is this fiction or autobiography? A. I don’t know. He uses both words, and sometimes calls it a novel. Indeed, sometimes he seems to think of each individual volume as a separate novel, which may give us a clue. As for autobiography, he does use real names, which is part of the uproar over this ...

A Girl and a Gun

Jenny Turner: Revenge Feminism, 10 October 2013

Apocalypse Baby 
by Virginie Despentes, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Serpent’s Tail, 338 pp., £8.99, June 2013, 978 1 84668 842 3
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... being right up behind him … The life of their children belongs to adults of my generation, who don’t want to let their youth get away from them twice.’ Her most recent assignment is Valentine Galtan, a girl of 15, ‘nymphomaniac’, ‘hyperactive’, ‘coked up to the eyeballs’ and eavesdropped on by Lucie every morning as she stuffs ‘her face ...

Why the bastards wouldn’t stand and fight

Murray Sayle: Mao in Vietnam, 21 February 2002

China and the Vietnam Wars 1950-75 
by Qiang Zhai.
North Carolina, 304 pp., $49.95, April 2000, 0 8078 4842 5
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None so Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam 
by George Allen.
Ivan Dee, 296 pp., $27.50, October 2001, 1 56663 387 7
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No Peace, No Honour: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam 
by Larry Berman.
Free Press, 334 pp., $27.50, November 2001, 0 684 84968 2
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... had a camera, a bush hat and carried no weapon), introduced himself as an adviser and said: ‘Don’t forget to write about the ARVN! It’s their war, too!’ I said I would, and indeed did, prophetically: ‘It is on these little men in their oversize American helmets that the future of South Vietnam will ultimately depend.’ As a battle, Attleboro was ...
... consequences to the many poor wretches who acted the Sancho Panza to his more than idiotic Don Quixote’. Slowly and without much difficulty, the British infiltrated his organisation. Nonetheless, the movement to bomb Britain continued sporadically over the next few years. Its culmination was Dynamite Saturday in January 1885, noted by James in ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... sitting room with the twinkling lights outside.‘You go to bed in the house that keeps you safe, don’t you?’ said Zainu Deen, the father of Zainab Deen, who lived in Flat 115 on the 14th floor with her son, Jeremiah. Everybody said that Zainab had always been independent: she left home at 18 and worked all the hours she could at the Chelsea and ...

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