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Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones, 1 March 1984

Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... make rather an unfair sort of comedy team. Not Hope-Crosby, nor Abbott-Costello, more like Martin-Lewis. As his initials suggest, F.X. is the son of a Roman Catholic mother and he is (by Tula Springs standards) almost as slick and Italianate as Dean Martin – ‘Hey, brothers, pour the wine!’ – while Bobby Pickens is as kack-handed and sincere as Jerry ...

Bustin’ up the Chiffarobe

Alex Abramovich: Paul Beatty, 7 January 2016

The Sellout 
by Paul Beatty.
Farrar, Straus, 288 pp., £17, March 2015, 978 0 374 26050 7
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... America’s crazy, and so sometimes its pure products go sane. Consider the eponymous narrator of Paul Beatty’s novel The Sellout. When we first meet him, in the Supreme Court’s ‘cavernous chambers’, the sellout’s hands are cuffed behind his back. His right to silence ‘long since waived’, he sits in a ‘thickly padded chair that, much like this ...

A Review of Grigson’s Verse

Graham Hough, 7 August 1980

History of Him 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 96 pp., £4.50, June 1980, 0 436 18841 4
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... them into poems? It may be the sudden flash of astonished fancy or insight, as in those entries in Paul Klee’s notebooks of which one hardly knows whether they were meant to be poems or not, but which instantly become so as soon as they are isolated. It may be wit of the pungent or satiric kind, as in epigrams (in the English sense). It may be sensuous and ...

Burlington Bertie

Julian Symons, 14 June 1990

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 364 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 297 81042 1
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... whose views about art differed deeply from his own. He was overwhelmed on first meeting Wyndham Lewis, called him ‘a great and scandalously ignored painter’, and as late as 1932 said Lewis was ‘by far the most active force among us’. But he nursed feelings of resentment that his admiration was not ...

Doctor, Doctor

D.A.N. Jones, 19 April 1984

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 276 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 49734 4
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The Suburbs of Hell 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 165 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 436 49735 2
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Kingsley’s Touch 
by John Collee.
Allen Lane, 206 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1633 8
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A Suitable Case for Corruption 
by Norman Lewis.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11178 1
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... might almost be called thrillers, their plots resembling sensational news items. With Norman Lewis we read of plans to assassinate statesmen in Egypt and Libya, with evil American agents blackmailing honest Britishers. John Collee tells of a wonder cure for cancer devised by a Hindu mystic in a Scottish city where surgeons’ knives are used too readily ...

Dogface

Ian Hamilton, 28 September 1989

Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 330 pp., £15, September 1989, 0 19 503797 9
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War like a Wasp: The Lost Decade of the Forties 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 241 12531 6
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... In a 1982 essay called ‘My War’ Paul Fussell described how – at the age of 20 – he became a full-time ironist: one who, by means of his experience in combat, had learned to perceive ‘some great gulf, half-comic and half-tragic, between what one expects and what one finds’. And in his book The Great War and Modern Memory, the soldier poets and memoirists who featured most prominently were those who had found themselves stranded in that same ‘great gulf’, learning firsthand how wrong they had been in their imaginings of what awaited them in France ...

Making faces

Philip Horne, 9 May 1991

The Grimace 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Grafton, 256 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 246 13770 3
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Playing the game 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 234 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 224 02758 1
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The Music of Chance 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 217 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 9780571161577
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... bother to try to compute the odds against this happening, and left it as a sharp earful of what Paul Auster calls ‘the music of chance’.Salaman, Buruma and Auster are all connoisseurs of the incongruous connection, all adept stringers-along of the reader into tantalisingly incomplete networks of significance. Salaman is a practised psychological ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... Three years later, a newly-elected Labour government set up another secret inquiry by a barrister, Lewis Hawser QC. Hawser did for James Hanratty what another barrister, Scott Henderson, had done for Timothy Evans, who was wrongly convicted of the murder of his child. By concentrating on minute differences of detail in witness statements, he managed to ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

... Burnham, Cooper or Kendall would have. They were not, as Freedland suggested, along with Helen Lewis in the New Statesman and Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times, merely indulging a fit of narcissism or nostalgia. The party members who voted for Corbyn hadn’t suddenly thrown their toys out of the pram just because Miliband lost. This is not a story of ...

Hallelujah Times

Eric Foner: The Great Migration, 29 June 2017

A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland 
by Sydney Nathans.
Harvard, 313 pp., £23.95, February 2017, 978 0 674 97214 8
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... part, which begins in the antebellum period, focuses on the experiences of ‘two Pauls’ – Paul Cameron, the son of Duncan Cameron, one of the largest slaveowners in North Carolina, and his slave Paul Hargress (originally named Hargis after a previous owner) – and their families. Duncan Cameron prided himself on ...

Why the hawks started worrying and learned to hate the Bomb

John Lewis Gaddis: Nuclear weapons, 1 April 1999

The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons 
by Jonathan Schell.
Granta, 240 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 1 86207 230 2
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... movement might most astonish those who have not been following recent developments: Ambassador Paul Nitze, the most durable of Cold War hawks, who has now publicly endorsed the goal of eventually eliminating nuclear weapons. For decades the anti-nuclear movement contained more prophets than professionals. Nitze’s involvement in it suggests how much ...

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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... once called A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War – it’s no longer said to be concise – Paul Preston points out that this prelude to the Second World War has generated as many books as the Second World War itself. During the Cold War, with the CIA busy collaborating with anarchists and Trotskyists to try to obscure ‘the fact that ...

In the Teeth of the Gale

A.D. Nuttall, 16 November 1995

The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation 
edited by Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule.
Oxford, 606 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 19 214209 7
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... that he made the Aeneid frightfully classical, as it could never have felt when Virgil wrote. C.S. Lewis, who carried this form of 19th-century sensibility even further into the 20th century than Housman had, hated Dryden’s rendering of Virgil’s words, ‘rosea cervice refulsit’, ‘She turned and made appear /Her neck refulgent’. He greatly preferred ...

Uncle Vester’s Nephew

Graham Coster, 27 February 1992

Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
by Greil Marcus.
Viking, 256 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 670 83846 2
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Rythm Oil: A Journey through the Music of the American South 
by Stanley Booth.
Cape, 254 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 224 02779 4
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... this book I cannot explain,’ he wisely concedes.) But he has come up with a nice idea. Just as Paul Fussell set himself, in The Great War and Modern Memory, to map the mythicisation of the First World War in the popular conscience – the images and icons we remember it by, and how these are themselves symptomatic of the selective desires, prejudices and ...

Little Do We Know

Mark Ford, 12 January 1995

The Annals of Chile 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 191 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 571 17205 9
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... half-jokingly inquired soon after the IRA’s ceasefire was announced. One would imagine that Paul Muldoon will be among the Northern Irish poets least directly affected by whatever happens – or doesn’t – in the Province. His poetry has always reflected political events in the most delicate of styles, avoiding overt judgments, sentimental ...

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