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America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... sort of like going to Central Park’.I thought of Joe when I read about Christian Cooper, the black birdwatcher who crossed paths with a white woman and her dog in Central Park on the morning of 25 May, the same day George Floyd was killed when a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nine minutes. There are ‘white spaces’ in Central ...

To be continued

Brigid Brophy, 6 November 1980

The Mystery of Edwin Drood 
by Charles Dickens and Leon Garfield.
Deutsch, 327 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 233 97257 9
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... Something is made of Helena Landless’s aptitude for dressing up and something of ‘that great black scarf’ which, as Dickens’s Jasper pulls it off and loops it round his arm, makes his face ‘knitted and stern’. Mr Garfield invents an amusingly lightweight Datchery, who is not any of the other dramatis personae in disguise. But when the ...


Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... but their power is the greater for that: coming at the end of a description of weather over Black Combe (a recurrent point de repère of the book), they are a formal act of conclusion and interpretation which refuses to interpret. Again and again this is the pattern: the creative energy of the poems is channelled into description, and the wisdom of the ...

The President’s Alternate

Fredrik Logevall: Bobby Kennedy, 18 May 2017

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon 
by Larry Tye.
Ballantine, 624 pp., £15.58, May 2017, 978 0 8129 8350 0
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... gaps, between urban workers and suburban professionals, between rich and poor, between white and black and Latino. By his willingness to change and to transcend the standard political categories, Tye’s Kennedy could have become America’s ‘high priest of reconciliation’. The seventh of the nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, he grew up in an ...

Baghdad’s Ruling Cliques

Keith Kyle, 15 August 1991

The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: The Old Social Classes Revisited 
edited by Robert Fernea and William Roger Louis.
Tauris, 232 pp., £35, May 1991, 1 85043 318 6
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Instant Empire: Saddam Hussein’s Ambition for Iraq 
by Simon Henderson.
Mercury House, 271 pp., £8.99, June 1991, 1 56279 007 2
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Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography 
by Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi.
Brassey, 307 pp., £17.95, April 1991, 0 08 041326 9
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The Gulf Between Us: The Gulf War and Beyond 
edited by Victoria Brittain.
Virago, 186 pp., £5.99, June 1991, 1 85381 386 9
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Under Siege in Kuwait: A Survivor’s Story 
by Jadranka Porter.
Gollancz, 250 pp., £4.99, July 1991, 9780575051850
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... the chapter on the military operation itself by two retired (and liberal) American Rear-Admirals, Eugene Carroll and Gene La Rocque, of the Washington Centre for Defence Information, and the brilliant summary of ‘Iraqi Political Dynamics’ by Faleh’ Abd Al-Jabar. There is also a most moving evocation, in various Arab voices, orchestrated by Fadia ...


Stephen Wall, 27 September 1990

Brazzaville Beach 
by William Boyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 314 pp., £13.95, September 1990, 1 85619 026 9
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A Bottle in the Smoke 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 279 pp., £13.95, September 1990, 1 85619 019 6
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Temples of Delight 
by Barbara Trapido.
Joseph, 318 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7181 3467 2
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... Hope joins the team on the Grosso Arvore Research Centre directed by the celebrated primatologist Eugene Mallabar. After over twenty years in the field he knows more about the society of wild chimpanzees than anyone else. His books – The Peaceful Primate, Primate’s Progress – are famous, and the final summa of his great work is in ...


John Lanchester, 8 March 1990

The Thirsty Muse: Alcohol and the American Writer 
by Tom Dardis.
Abacus, 292 pp., £3.99, February 1990, 0 349 10143 4
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... written like this), until it started to serve him less well, and the long history of collapses, black-outs and hospitalisations began. His first hospitalisation was in 1936, and there were to be very many more before his death in 1962; he survived seizures of an intensity that might well have been expected to be fatal; he had a blackout that lasted for two ...

Stitched up

R.W. Johnson, 21 October 1993

Return to Paradise 
by Breyten Breytenbach.
Faber, 214 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 16989 9
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... with more medals than the scales of a fish’, wears boots with built-up heels like Eugene Terreblanche of the AWB. He meets up with his mysterious friend Walker who delights in new trades and scams: with the fall of the USSR Walker’s got a hoard of busts of Lenin and Stalin which he believes he can sell in South Africa – it’s the last ...


Mark Ford: Donald Justice, 16 November 2006

Collected Poems 
by Donald Justice.
Anvil, 289 pp., £15, June 2006, 0 85646 386 8
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... home town): And one of them put his blade into the earth To lift a few clods of dirt, the black marl of Miami, And scattered the dirt, and spat, Turning away abruptly, out of respect. Justice was not prolific; like Elizabeth Bishop, with whom he has much in common, he devoted his life to the perfection of a small body of deceptively modest poems. His ...

At the Royal Academy

T.J. Clark: James Ensor, 1 December 2016

... penser à cette lignée terrible et maudite: Maldoror, Rimbaud.’ He has given us a new set of Black Paintings reimagined by a cackling van Gogh. ‘Skeletons Fighting for the Body of a Hanged Man’ (1891) And yet there is tenderness in Ensor – an unmistakable fellow feeling for his marionettes. He would be an immensely lesser artist (as would ...

Having Fun

David Coward: Alexandre Dumas, 17 April 2003

Viva Garibaldi! Une Odyssée en 1860 
by Alexandre Dumas.
Fayard, 610 pp., €23, February 2002, 2 213 61230 7
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... man of commanding presence, great courage and colossal physical strength: it was said that ‘the Black Devil’ could hold four rifles at the end of his outstretched arm, one finger in each barrel. In Egypt in 1799 he quarrelled with Napoleon, accusing him of putting personal ambition before Revolutionary principles; he was sent home. On the way, his ship ...

This Condensery

August Kleinzahler: In Praise of Lorine Niedecker, 5 June 2003

Collected Works 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
California, 471 pp., £29.95, May 2002, 0 520 22433 7
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Collected Studies in the Use of English 
by Kenneth Cox.
Agenda, 270 pp., £12, September 2001, 9780902400696
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New Goose 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
Listening Chamber, 98 pp., $10, January 2002, 0 9639321 6 0
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... so unreliable and bewildering as to be next to useless. Niedecker spent nearly all of her life on Black Hawk Island, three miles from Fort Atkinson, a town in the rich dairy country of south-central Wisconsin with a population of around eight thousand. The state capital, Madison, is 34 miles north-west and Milwaukee about 60 miles ...

The Blindfolded Archer

Donald MacKenzie: The stochastic dynamics of market prices, 4 August 2005

The (Mis)behaviour of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward 
by Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard Hudson.
Profile, 328 pp., £9.99, September 2005, 1 86197 790 5
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... or up to, a given future date. As I described in the LRB on 13 April 2000, the economists Fischer Black, Myron Scholes and Robert Merton drew on the log-normal distribution (and on a number of other assumptions about market conditions) to reduce the complicated problem of understanding the prices of options to a relatively simple differential equation. The ...
Djuna Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... Village with sundry trendies and their visitors – Alfred Stieglitz, Edna St Vincent Millay, Eugene O’Neill and Marcel Duchamp, among others. She was connected with the Provincetown Players and the Little Review. She had affairs with decadents of both sexes, she wrote about their lives and their haunts in newspapers and published interviews with ...

Come Back, You Bastards!

Graham Robb: Who cut the tow rope?, 5 July 2007

Medusa: The Shipwreck, the Scandal, the Masterpiece 
by Jonathan Miles.
Cape, 334 pp., £17.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 07303 5
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... and ‘a general testiness’ prevails. Fortunately, even when his tongue is black and stuck to the roof of his mouth, a Frenchman’s palate never lets him down. Urine, cooled in small tins, turns out to be ‘a valuable source of ingestible liquid’, and the survivors on the raft divert ‘themselves with comparative ...

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