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Diary

Ben Walker: ‘A test case for Corbynism’, 5 December 2019

... the election had been called. Towards the end of my conversation with Hussain, another councillor, Martin Repton, came along. He told me the situation with Williamson’s candidacy was ‘a little localised problem, which should be resolved today’. An hour later the NEC ruled that Williamson would not after all be permitted to stand in Derby North. A few ...

Spicy

Nicholas Spice, 15 March 1984

The Fetishist, and Other Stories 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 00 221440 7
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My Aunt Christina, and Other Stories 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 575 03256 1
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Mr Bedford and the Muses 
by Gail Godwin.
Heinemann, 229 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 434 29751 8
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Alexandra Freed 
by Lisa Zeidner.
Cape, 288 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 224 02158 3
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The Coffin Tree 
by Wendy Law-Yone.
Cape, 195 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 224 02963 0
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... in their empty hands, Mama’s hands, and fell asleep under their caress.’ This is a solace that Martin, the fetishist, would keenly appreciate. It is in a glove, so to speak, that he experiences his first sensual encounter with Antoinette, the love of his life: ‘that little fabric hand that I could squeeze in my hand, put in my pocket, Antoinette’s ...

We look at it and see ourselves

Bruce Cumings: Fantasies of Korea, 15 December 2005

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty 
by Bradley Martin.
Dunne, 868 pp., $29.95, October 2004, 0 312 32221 6
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Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea 
by Jasper Becker.
Oxford, 300 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 9780195170443
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... ideology is closer to their Neo-Confucian forebears. The defector Hwang Jang-yop told Bradley Martin that the two Kims ‘turned Stalinism and Marxism-Leninism on their heads by reverting to Confucian notions’. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a picture emerged of Kim Il Sung in a Soviet uniform with a medal on his lapel. Like Ho Chi Minh, he ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll, 1 December 2011

Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... as well as satirise the paranoia which was exacerbated by the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King in 1968 and seemed to find its justification in the Watergate revelations. Richard Condon’s novel The Manchurian Candidate – an eerie anticipation published in 1959 and then turned into a Hollywood film which appeared during the Cuban ...

Do It and Die

Richard Horton, 20 April 1995

Soundings 
by Abraham Verghese.
Phoenix, 347 pp., £18.99, May 1994, 1 897580 26 6
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... rural living, still defines life east of the Mississippi. Even today, in the tourist brochures of Johnson City (the location for Verghese’s story), the percentage of the population who are non-white is listed to reassure prospective visitors (7.2 per cent, for the record). Tourism trades happily on this humiliating past. Henning, the birthplace of Alex ...

Things they don’t want to hear

Clancy Martin: Lydia Davis, 22 July 2010

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis 
Hamish Hamilton, 733 pp., £20, August 2010, 978 0 241 14504 3Show More
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... necessitated by the different truths they are trying to share with us. The narrator of ‘Samuel Johnson is Indignant: that Scotland has so few trees’ (that’s the title and the whole story) is a very different person from the lover of gardens and doctors who worries over herself in ‘Thyroid Diary’ and compares herself to the perpetually withering ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... a total of £22,000 for 38 stories. ‘If you were a victim of crime,’ the prosecutor, Zoe Johnson, asked the jurors, ‘would you expect a police officer to sell your name and address to the Sun?’ The judge, Timothy Pontius, described France as ‘a decent man’. Handing down an 18-month suspended sentence, he said articles about drunken airline ...

Success

Marilyn Butler, 18 November 1982

The Trouble of an Index: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. XII 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 166 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 7195 3885 8
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Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 404 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 7195 3974 9
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Byron 
by Frederic Raphael.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 500 01278 4
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Byron’s Political and Cultural Influence in 19th-Century Europe: A Symposium 
edited by Paul Graham Trueblood.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 333 29389 4
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Byron and Joyce through Homer 
by Hermione de Almeida.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 333 30072 6
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Byron: A Poet Before His Public 
by Philip Martin.
Cambridge, 253 pp., £18.50, July 1982, 0 521 24186 3
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... character in English literature, unmitigated by the humour and grudging respect that breaks out in Johnson on the Scots. Among the small would-be nations Byron also tried to help was Armenia, not mentioned in this book. After arriving in Venice in 1816, he provided money for an Armenian dictionary, and did some work on it himself. Is there a statue to him, or ...

Rut after Rut after Rut

Thomas Jones: Denis Johnson’s Vietnam, 29 November 2007

Tree of Smoke 
by Denis Johnson.
Picador, 614 pp., £16.99, November 2007, 978 0 330 44920 5
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... in Vietnam who made napalm famous. Napalm is one of the first things that the title of Denis Johnson’s new novel brings to mind. Think of the opening of Apocalypse Now, the paradisal grove of palm trees against a clear sky, gradually obscured by clouds of dust whipped up by helicopter rotor blades, then suddenly obliterated by a salvo of incendiary ...

J’Accuzi

Frank Kermode, 24 July 1986

The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 208 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 224 02385 3
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... Martin Amis begins this collection of ‘left-handed’ (i.e. journalistic) pieces by deploying two standard topoi. The first is the modesty topos, duly described by Curtius, though under the tendentious title of ‘affected modesty’: ‘I am inadequate to the subject; I haven’t really done enough work, etc.’ ‘Oh, no doubt I should have worked harder,’ writes Amis, ‘made the book more representative, more systematic, et cetera ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

... on Remembrance Day? Would he kneel to the queen when he was admitted to the Privy Council (see Martin Loughlin’s piece on p. 29)? On the day after he was elected, he spoke at a mental health trust fun day in his constituency instead of going on the Andrew Marr Show. Later that day he was filmed as he hurried along the pavement outside Westminster in ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: People Will Hate Us Again, 20 April 2017

... Towards the end, I asked the table: ‘If it all goes wrong, who will you hate the most: Gove, Johnson, or Farage?’ Gove was beneath numerical notice; Johnson got seven votes; I put my own marker against Farage. In the context of Brexit, Johnson seemed to me just a ...

In Praise of Barley Brew

E.S. Turner: Combustible Belloc, 20 February 2003

Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc 
by Joseph Pearce.
HarperCollins, 306 pp., £20, July 2002, 0 00 274095 8
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... most especially metre. On his death the Tablet devoted an entire issue to ‘the Catholic Dr Johnson’ (Father Martin d’Arcy). Pearce feels Belloc is entitled to the epitaph he proposed for himself fifty years earlier in ‘The Prophet Lost in the Hills at Evening’: I challenged and I kept the Faith, The bleeding ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... to a Scarfe cartoon of Harold Wilson with his lolling tongue in close proximity to Lyndon Johnson’s bottom (‘Vietnam: Wilson right behind Johnson’, 30 April 1965). ‘I’ve heard of a special relationship,’ the president muses, hitching up his trousers, ‘but this is ridiculous.’ Somehow the exquisite ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... feature.The new arrangements got off to a sticky start. No sooner was the chamber unveiled than Johnson abandoned his scheme for Allegra Stratton, his chief spokesman, to give daily televised press conferences, suddenly realising that a badly managed press conference could blow any passing contretemps up into a scalding embarrassment. Instead, the lectern ...

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