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The Importance of Aunts

Colm Tóibín, 17 March 2011

... leaves us hardly more curious of her process, or of the experience in her that fed it, than the brown thrush who tells his story from the garden bough.’ He alluded sarcastically to ‘the body of publishers, editors, illustrators, producers of the pleasant twaddle of magazines, who have found their “dear”, our dear, everybody’s dear, Jane so ...


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

... each night, Back in Nagasaki where the fellows chew tobaccy, And the women wicky-wacky woo! And Laura Nyro. ‘I know her. I forget her name. She’s dead, right?’ ‘You don’t know shit,’ the Maestro snarled. He was rendering me a service that, nowadays, in the absence of my mother and father, a number of my close friends feel obliged to ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... he said, “I want a new one.” The one he wanted cost £900. We bought it.’Nicholas Paget-Brown​ , who was then the leader of the council, lives alone not far from the Fulham Road. His gentle manners precede him, in the style of a decently prepped, slightly fogeyish man of the 1950s, and he acts as if he might find the modern world fascinating were ...

Sex on the Roof

Patricia Lockwood, 6 December 2018

Evening in Paradise: More Stories 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8229 8
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Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 160 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8234 2
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... something we’ve seen before. Berlin was born in Juneau, Alaska, in 1936, to Ted and Mary Brown. Her father was a mining engineer, and her mother, as would be repeated over and over in the stories, was a Moynihan. The family name is significant. We are offered a picture of Lucia sucking worriedly at a bottle, not yet understanding that some days are ...

Not Saluting, but Waving

Michael Wood, 20 February 1997

directed by Alan Parker.
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The Making of ‘Evita’ 
by Alan Parker.
Boxtree, 127 pp., £12.99, December 1996, 0 7522 2264 3
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In My Own Words 
by Eva Perón, translated by Laura Dail.
New Press, 120 pp., $8.95, November 1996, 1 56584 353 3
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Santa Evita 
by Tomás Eloy Martínez, translated by Helen Lane.
Doubleday, 371 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 385 40875 7
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... glimpse of himself in a run-down theatre in New Jersey, listening to a black singer called Janice Brown perform numbers from the musical Evita, or driving the local roads listening to Sinéad O’Connor on the radio – she, too, is Evita, asking some place called Aryentina not to cry for her. But then in the next chapter, probably the strongest and darkest ...


Iain Sinclair: London’s Lost Cinemas, 6 November 2014

... with plastic bowls of fruit at £1 a throw. The single gold coin is the dominant unit of exchange; brown tokens are trodden into tarmac like cigarette stubs or used gum. The blue wall carries a CORONET sign as a reminder of the building’s history. The ABC Cinema (as it was originally called) opened in 1932 as a 2000-seat Art Deco conversion of the former ...

Elegant Extracts

Leah Price: Anthologies, 3 February 2000

The Oxford Book of English Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 690 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 214182 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume One 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2974 pp., £22.50, December 1999, 0 393 97487 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2963 pp., £22.50, February 2000, 9780393974911
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume One 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2963 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01173 2
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume Two 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2982 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01174 0
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Night & Horses & The Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature 
edited by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 7139 9153 4
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News that Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 189 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 0 571 20060 5
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Time’s Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Anvil, 157 pp., £7.95, November 1999, 0 85646 313 2
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Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Penguin, 640 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780140588996
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... EXTRACTS’ accounted for ‘nine-tenths of the reading of the reading public’. When, in 1928, Laura Riding and Robert Graves’s Pamphlet against Anthologies charged the genre with reducing poetry to a ‘packet-commodity’, the only alternative that they proposed revealed just how inescapable the anthology had become. The ‘full Corpus’ that could ...

The Rise and Fall of the Baggy-Trousered Barbarians

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Soviet historiography, 19 August 2004

Vixi: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger 
by Richard Pipes.
Yale, 264 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 300 10165 1
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Adventures in Russian Historical Research: Reminiscences of American Scholars from the Cold War to the Present 
edited by Samuel Baron and Cathy Frierson.
Sharpe, 272 pp., £18.50, June 2003, 9780765611970
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... was Nazi Germany. Not long ago, the American Historical Review published an article by Kate Brown – which Pipes surely disliked, if he read it – with the arresting subtitle ‘Why Kazakhstan and Montana are Nearly the Same Place’. In the old days, it was Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that were ‘nearly the same place’, and the underpinning ...

English Proust

Christopher Prendergast, 8 July 1993

In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, £15, November 1992, 0 7011 3992 7
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... tries to weaken this with the spelling ‘Mama’). ‘Mamma’ transforms Combray into a Laura-Ashleyfied English nursery and the dilemmas of the neurasthenically Oedipal boy into the problems of a little Lord Fauntleroy, best dealt with by a vigorous spanking at a suitably brutal public school (to take an alternative example, could one imagine that ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... simply stamped out; with the Pre-Raphaelites, there was indeed such a potential – he cited Madox Brown’s house, where ‘there were not only artists but also atheists, political refugees, vagrants: there was the kind of widening which was questioning the order of a much wider area’ – and this did link to Morris’s development. But Williams could not ...

Sneezing, Yawning, Falling

Charles Nicholl: The Da Vinci Codices, 16 December 2004

... misdeeds. It seems to have been written at a single sitting: the ink colour is a uniform dark brown. It was no doubt intended for Giacomo’s father, who was to foot the bill, but it acquires in extenso a curiously personal coloration, a tone of exasperated fondness, so that what is intended as a rather crotchety list of complaints achieves a quality ...

My Heroin Christmas

Terry Castle: Art Pepper and Me, 18 December 2003

... Lynne did something similar when she got pregnant at 16 in San Diego in 1967: made my stepsister Laura (who was ten at the time) jump off a sofa onto her stomach to make it ‘pop’. The gambit failed to produce the desired effect. Lynne had the baby in a Catholic place for unwed mothers and left it with an adoption agency. She later married Bill, a ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... a shadowy earlier affair with Lady Ursula Chetwynd-Talbot, a novelist under the name ‘Laura Talbot’ who was generally known as ‘La’. Lois finally withdrew her moderately stabilising influence, divorcing him in 1953, and his marriage to La a year later was not a successful fresh start. In 1956, he underwent ECT for alcoholic depression. A ...

Driving through a Postcard

Christian Lorentzen: In New Hampshire, 3 March 2016

... of the Trump Links golf course, the name spelled out in giant letters of grey bricks set into the brown grass. It was a Tuesday morning, and we were on the way to see Donald Trump address an arena full of New Hampshire residents at Great Bay Community College on the outskirts of Portsmouth. On the radio the former Colorado senator and disgraced 1984 ...

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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... rapidly: three years ago, Christopher Bram published his Washington tale, Almost History; in 1994, Laura Argiri’s 19th-century melodrama The God in Flight came out, along with Mark Merlis’s study of McCarthyism in academia, American Studies; last year saw the publication of four epics: Michael Cunningham’s, Flesh and Blood, Patrick Gale’s The Facts of ...

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