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No Light on in the House

August Kleinzahler: Richard Brautigan Revisited, 14 December 2000

An Unfortunate Woman 
by Richard Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 110 pp., £12, July 2000, 1 84195 023 8
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Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-70 
by Richard Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 146 pp., £6.99, June 2000, 1 84195 027 0
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You Can't Catch Death 
by Ianthe Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 209 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 1 84195 025 4
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... making an appearance. Brautigan came from the Pacific Northwest, born in Tacoma, Washington in the winter of 1935. His childhood seems to have been appalling and he was reluctant to discuss it. He never knew his father, who, in turn, never knew of his son until reading his death notice. His mother was no bargain either, at one point abandoning Brautigan and ...

Dear boy, I’d rather see you in your coffin

Jon Day: Paid to Race, 16 July 2020

To Hell and Back: An Autobiography 
by Niki Lauda.
Ebury, 314 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 5291 0679 4
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A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Britain’s First Great Grand Prix Driver, Richard Seaman 
by Richard Williams.
Simon and Schuster, 388 pp., £20, March, 978 1 4711 7935 8
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... Other innovations have more immediate effects. When Lauda was driving for Brabham the designer Gordon Murray invented a ‘vacuum-cleaner car’ which used an engine cooling fan to suck air from beneath the chassis, pulling it down onto the track and allowing it to corner at much higher speeds. After Lauda drove it to victory in the Swedish Grand Prix it ...

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery, 5 March 2020

by Anne Enright.
Cape, 264 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 78733 206 5
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... Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1950) is the most recognisable, though I prefer Myrtle Gordon in John Cassavetes’s Opening Night (1977). Myrtle, played by Gena Rowlands, is in the twilight of her career and bent on sabotaging the play for which she’s currently rehearsing. She drinks too much; is haunted by a woman with a striking resemblance to ...

In the Hothouse

Peter Howarth: Swinburne, 8 November 2018

21st-Century Oxford Authors: Algernon Charles Swinburne 
edited by Francis O’Gorman.
Oxford, 722 pp., £95, December 2016, 978 0 19 967224 0
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... it through with tortuous teeth.’ If spring itself is another snakebite opportunity, then cold winter need never end and the world itself can become the cruel mother/mistress’s boudoir. The fantasy is not fundamentally about seeking pain for its own sake, but investigates how feared suffering may be dramatised, internalised, and converted to something ...

The Way Things Are and How They Might Be

Tony Judt and Kristina Božič: An Interview, 25 March 2010

... who were most active in this choice were the most powerful people in Europe: Merkel, Sarkozy and Gordon Brown. With the new constitution of the EU two possibilities were opened. Because the executive power was largely dependent on how the representatives were chosen and who they were the executive power could be either very strong or very weak. We went for ...

The Rise and Fall of Thatcherism

Peter Clarke: Eight years after, 10 December 1998

... the way in which, on becoming leader of the Conservative Party, she put herself in the hands of Gordon Reece, a former television producer, who knew just what needed to be done. The hair was wrong, too suburban; it was restyled. The clothes were wrong, too fussy; they were replaced. The voice was wrong, too shrill; it was lowered in pitch through lessons ...


Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... at supper in Giggleswick that, when I was a boy in Armley, the clothes horse was called the ‘winter edge’, actually the ‘winter hedge’. W. suggests, poetically, that it was because, laden with clothes, it would look like a hedge covered with snow. More plausibly, it was because in summer clothes could be spread ...

Downhill from Here

Ian Jack: The 1970s, 27 August 2009

When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies 
by Andy Beckett.
Faber, 576 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 571 22136 3
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... parties as the nadir of postwar Britain. David Cameron (though it could just as easily have been Gordon Brown) read out the charge sheet at a Demos meeting in 2006: ‘economic decline . . . inflation, stagnation and rising unemployment . . . deteriorating industrial relations’. Nearly 30 million working days were lost to strikes in 1979, mainly during ...

Lotti’s Leap

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 July 1982

Collected Poems and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Val Warner.
Carcanet/Virago, 445 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 85635 260 8
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... article ‘An Old Servant’: ‘as fixed a part of the Universe as the bath (cruelly cold in winter) into which she plunged us every morning, and the stars to which she pointed through the high window, naming some of them, in the evening sky’. But it was also this faithful servant who imprinted on Lotti’s mind the Evangelical sense of guilt and ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... his writing self. One notes, in support of this, the prominence in the novels of heroes like Gordon Comstock who break with their stultifying families. And it is interesting, in the light of the works reviewed here, that Patricia Highsmith also seems to have been one of those who felt the need to rename herself before going on to make a name for herself ...


Paul Rock, 17 September 1981

... of the workings of change and transformation. The storming of the Bastille, the taking of the Winter Palace, the Peasants’ Revolt, Captain Swing, the Gordon Riots and Watts tend to be reconstructed as a series of memorable tableaux, punctuating the flow of events and creating major divisions between what went before ...

Born of the age we live in

John Lanchester, 6 December 1990

Stick it up your punter! The Rise and Fall of the ‘Sun’ 
by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 434 12624 1
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All played out: The True Story of Italia ’90 
by Pete Davies.
Heinemann, 471 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 434 17908 6
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Gazza! A Biography 
by Robin McGibbon.
Penguin, 204 pp., £3.99, October 1990, 9780140148688
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... to the Express, with its much later first-edition time of 10 p.m., crying in imitation of Flash Gordon as he rushed out of the door: ‘I’ve only got four hours to save the Daily Express!’ ... The first copies of the Sun would then be brought, ink still wet on their pages. He would look through them virtually keeping an open phone line to the ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... after a British separate peace, but not indefinitely. Sooner or later, the succession of German winter defeats followed by Soviet summer defeats would have given way to a more definite outcome. Even the permanently warring frontier that Hitler delighted to imagine, where Germanic youth could be tested and culled before procreating, presumed a defeated ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... with artists who were busy inventing their reputations. One night, I sat at the bar with Douglas Gordon while he drew me pictures of devils (I have them somewhere). Sarah Lucas and I walked the streets in search of more drink after Damien Hirst told Will Self to ‘crack a fucking smile’. I think I sang with Milli Vanilli. Life coaches will tell you that ...

The Death of a Poet

Penelope Fitzgerald: Charlotte Mew, 23 May 2002

... on her books and clothes. Before the Clean Air Acts, everything in London, as soon as the winter fogs began, was black, or blackish, by the end of the day. Charlotte, always immaculate in white shirt-blouses, had once called laundry ‘the curse of civilisation’. But unluckily the language of hygiene – contamination, impurity, resistance, fight ...

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