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Kureishi’s England

Margaret Walters, 5 April 1990

The Buddha of Suburbia 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 284 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 14274 5
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... all his naiveté – about himself. Karim’s father Haroon (his English in-laws firmly call him Harry) is going through a mid-life crisis that echoes Karim’s adolescent yearnings for change. As a young immigrant from Bombay, Dad fell in love with a pretty English girl, took a boring Civil Service job, and found himself trapped in a life that was ‘all ...

Lions, Princes, Bosses

R.W. Johnson, 15 August 1991

... from the ill effects of African nationalism is, of course, simple-minded. The fact that all the ‘smart money’ is on Mbeki is actually the best possible reason for betting on Hani. The most active pre-conference skirmishers were all on the left. The hardly well-kept secret leaked out that Peter Mokaba, the fiery head of the youth section, had had a career ...

Long Live Aporia!

Hal Foster: William Gaddis, 24 July 2003

Agapē Agape 
by William Gaddis.
Atlantic, 113 pp., £9.99, January 2003, 1 903809 83 5
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The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings 
by William Gaddis, edited by Joseph Tabbi.
Penguin, 182 pp., $14, October 2002, 0 14 200238 0
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... discourse, and they are often reactionary (and sometimes anti-semitic). But Gaddis is too smart to leave matters there. He is also fascinated by another Greek word, aporia, which he once defined as ‘difference, discontinuity, disparity, contradiction, discord, ambiguity, irony, paradox, perversity, opacity, obscurity, anarchy, chaos’, and saluted ...

Stubble and Breath

Linda Colley: Mother Germaine, 15 July 1999

The Whole Woman 
by Germaine Greer.
Doubleday, 351 pp., £16.99, March 1999, 0 385 60015 1
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Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew 
by Christine Wallace.
Cohen, 333 pp., £18.99, March 1999, 1 86066 120 3
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... special talents are of most value.’ Wallace quotes Greer as claiming that the nuns ‘were not smart enough’; that she would still be a Catholic ‘if I’d been taught by Jesuits’. If accurate, this exemplifies what rival feminists often accuse her of: a tendency to put down less able women and simultaneously to romanticise and flatter males. This is ...

Escape of a Half-Naked Sailor

P.N. Furbank: ‘Three Queer Lives’, 29 November 2001

Three Queer Lives: An Alternative Biography of Fred Barnes, Naomi Jacob and Arthur Marshall 
by Paul Bailey.
Hamish Hamilton, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 241 13455 2
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... of mad extravagance, entertaining lavishly, gambling, spending a fortune on clothes, servants and smart cars, and becoming a heavy drinker. His friends began to be embarrassed by him, as an eccentric; and on one occasion, in Australia in 1922, he got too drunk to appear on the stage. Worse followed. In October 1924, driving through Hyde Park, he ran into a ...

Don’t Die

Jenny Diski: Among the Handbags, 1 November 2007

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre 
by Dana Thomas.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 7139 9823 8
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... street back to luxury in a matter of days. The appropriation of populism by luxury designers is a smart survival strategy, creating a new kind of scarcity and better publicity for perfumes and accessories than money could buy. In the same way, when movie stars go and collect their Oscars in their loaned designer frocks, millions buy the scent and the ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman, 8 February 2007

Nicole Kidman 
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... that the people involved were in love.’ Ryan, by contrast, had not only faked her orgasm in When Harry Met Sally (1989) but had also taken a couple of turns opposite Tom Hanks in romantic comedies, at a time when Hanks was becoming the biggest male movie star in the world, and done a widely admired emote-a-thon as an alcoholic in When a Man Loves a Woman ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus, 7 November 2013

The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... introduced to Anglophone readers, in translations by the Viennese refugee and Brandeis professor Harry Zohn:* Many share my views with me. But I don’t share them with them. To have talent, to be a talent: the two are always confused. Why should one artist grasp another? Does Mount Vesuvius appreciate Mount Etna? At most, a feminine relationship of ...

Roth, Pinter, Berlin and Me

Christopher Tayler: Clive James, 11 March 2010

The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years 
by Clive James.
Picador, 325 pp., £17.99, October 2009, 978 0 330 45736 1
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... even if his compliments can take a bit of figuring out. Colleagues are often praised for being ‘smart enough to see the point’ of his directorial interventions; Jonathan Ross, ‘whose gifts I admired’, is said to ‘put a lot of emphasis on personal appearance, almost as if he had no talent’, though Terry Wogan and ...

Phantom Gold

John Pemble: Victorian Capitalism, 7 January 2016

Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds and the Rise of Modern Finance 
by Ian Klaus.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.99, January 2015, 978 0 300 18194 4
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... Capitalism makes clear, in the Victorian City of London if you weren’t credulous you were very smart indeed. Klaus swims against the current of neoliberal vindication of Adam Smith. He sees the ‘invisible hand’ as a figment of Enlightenment optimism; the free individual motivated by true self-interest as a theoretical model, not an empirical ...

Go and get killed, comrade

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Spanish Civil War, 21 February 2013

Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle against Fascism 
by Richard Baxell.
Aurum, 516 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 1 84513 697 0
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I Am Spain: The Spanish Civil War and the Men and Women Who Went to Fight Fascism 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Old Street, 363 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 1 908699 10 7
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... struck him as ‘worth fighting for’. He ended up on the front in Aragon somewhat by chance. Harry Pollitt, the general secretary of the British Communist Party, had flatly denied his request to join the International Brigades: his accent and background made him politically suspect. The International Labour Party had set up an office in Barcelona that ...

Life and Work

Philip Horne, 8 May 1986

Falling apart 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 190 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 436 44087 3
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Memoirs of Many in One 
by Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray, edited by Patrick White.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 224 02371 3
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Free Agents 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 197 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13852 7
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... be aware is that of the Australian Peter Carey’s very comparable Bliss (1981), whose ad-man hero Harry Joy revives at the start after being clinically dead for nine minutes, and returns, winded, to his former way of life, deprived of his former breezy ‘optimism’, even suspecting that he is still dead and now in Hell. It is not just in the cracking-up and ...

Museums of Melancholy

Iain Sinclair: Silence on the Euston Road, 18 August 2005

... preoccupied, chemically adapted as ever. They looked forward, impatiently, to the forthcoming Harry Potter, a device for blotting out the view from the window. A weapon, a comforting weight in the lap. Potter makes use of Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross: trainee wizards have to learn how to pass through the solid barriers between platforms 9 and 10. They ...

Tacky Dress

Dale Peck, 22 February 1996

Like People in History: A Gay American Epic 
by Felice Picano.
Viking, 512 pp., $23.95, July 1995, 0 670 86047 6
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How Long Has This Been Going On? 
by Ethan Mordden.
Villard, 590 pp., $25, April 1995, 0 679 41529 7
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The Facts of Life 
by Patrick Gale.
Flamingo, 511 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 602 24522 2
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Flesh and Blood 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 9780241135150
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... homosexuality, that finally rip it apart. Ben is the model child of a model family, handsome, smart, athletic, kind, above all, loved, and his greatest desire is not to lose that love or to hurt those who love him, which he sees as the inevitable result of the revelation of his homosexuality. These ideas exist just below the surface of Ben’s ...

Gielgud’s Achievements

Alan Bennett, 20 December 1979

An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... nor his enterprise. He has come a long way. As a juvenile his ‘ambition was to be frightfully smart and West End, wear beautifully-cut suits lounging on sofas in French-window comedies’. Fifty years later ‘I was asked to put suppositories up my bottom under the bedclothes and play a scene in the lavatory which I confess I found somewhat ...

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