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One Summer in America

Eliot Weinberger, 26 September 2019

... and toddlers who have been taken from their parents. Some are as young as five months. In one camp, five hundred children are confined in a windowless warehouse. In others, they are encaged behind chain-link fences. In some camps, there are no hot meals. There are outbreaks of chickenpox, flu, measles, scabies and mumps, and infestations of lice. There ...

Stanley and the Women

Tony Gould, 25 July 1991

Stanley: The Making of an African Explorer 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 411 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 09 462420 8
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Stanley: Sorcerer’s Apprentice 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 499 pp., £25, January 1991, 0 09 470220 9
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Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley 
by John Bierman.
Hodder, 401 pp., £17.95, January 1991, 0 340 50977 5
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... documentary sources,’ he writes, ‘include the hitherto unpublished expedition journals of William Grant Stairs and memoirs of Alice Pike Barney’; he also pays generous tribute to Richard Hall’s earlier biography, ‘a model of hard-nosed and painstaking investigation’. Hall was the first to reveal Stanley’s secret engagement to Alice ...

Grunge Futurism

Julian Loose, 4 November 1993

Virtual Light 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 670 84081 5
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Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Post-Modern Science Fiction 
by Scott Bukatman.
Duke, 416 pp., £15.95, August 1993, 0 8223 1340 5
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... The future isn’t what it used to be. In one of William Gibson’s first published stories, ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, a photographer is assigned to capture examples of ‘futuristic’ American design from the Thirties, the kind of dream architecture that graced the covers of pulp science fiction magazines like Amazing Stories ...

In Pyjamas

R.W. Johnson: Bill Deedes’s Decency, 17 November 2005

Dear Bill: A Memoir 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 451 pp., £14.99, July 2005, 9781405052665
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... It was appropriate that Deedes should end up with Waugh in Abyssinia, providing the model for William Boot. Anyone who remembers how, on Lord Copper’s orders, Boot is outfitted with all manner of absurd and elaborate equipment before setting out for the war, will be delighted to read of the Post’s determination to fit Deedes out with cedarwood trunks ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... perhaps to re-create the disorientation of the senses recommended by Rimbaud and diagnosed by William James. The groupuscule we call the Beats (short for ‘beatitude’) was by 1961 geographically and emotionally scattered: Kerouac (barely present in Baker’s book) hunkered down at his mother’s house, Burroughs cocooned himself in Tangier, Neal ...

Places Never Explained

Colm Tóibín: Anthony Hecht, 8 August 2013

The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht 
edited by Jonathan Post.
Johns Hopkins, 365 pp., £18, November 2012, 978 1 4214 0730 2
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... and Classification Department. It was hardly a heroic war.’ But he did write heroically. William Pritchard, in his biography of Jarrell, says that ‘in letter after letter, Jarrell turned the routine, the boredom, the loneliness and the wastefulness of army life far from the zones of combat into the figures of something like art.’ In February ...

Antinomian Chic

Danny Karlin, 2 June 1988

Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writings by Contemporary Artists 
edited by Brian Wallis.
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York/MIT Press, 431 pp., £13.50, January 1988, 9780262231282
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Empire of the Senseless 
by Kathy Acker.
Picador, 227 pp., £10.95, May 1988, 0 330 30192 6
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The Western Lands 
by William Burroughs.
Picador, 258 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 330 29805 4
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... Kathy Acker, wild and woolly avatar of William Burroughs, is also one of the Blasted Allegorists, contemporary American artists whose self-important and talent-free doodles about Life, the Universe and Everything are hyped by Brian Wallis in his Introduction, a piece of writing conceivably worse than the pieces it introduces: For the writers in this book, these critical forms, such as interviews, monologues, jokes, dream narratives and parables, oppose the imposed narrative structure, the unquestioned hierarchy of characters, and the easy closure of much conventional – or even modernist – literature ...

Puritan Neuroses

Blair Worden, 19 April 1984

The Puritan Gentry: The Great Puritan Families of Early Stuart England 
by J.T. Cliffe.
Routledge, 313 pp., £18.95, March 1984, 0 7102 0007 2
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The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County 
by William Hunt.
Harvard, 365 pp., £30.60, April 1983, 0 674 73903 5
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Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism 
by Patrick Collinson.
Hambledon, 604 pp., £24, July 1982, 9780907628156
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Laud’s Laboratory: The Diocese of Bath and Wells in the Early 17th Century 
by Margaret Steig.
Associated University Presses, 416 pp., £30, September 1983, 0 8387 5019 2
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The Puritan Conversion Narrative: The Beginnings of American Expression 
by Patricia Caldwell.
Cambridge, 210 pp., £17.50, December 1983, 0 521 25460 4
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Protestant Reformers in Elizabethan Oxford 
by C.M. Dent.
Oxford, 262 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 826723 1
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... place in any reputable account of the origins of the ‘Puritan Revolution’; and high time too. William Hunt, whose book is ostensibly about pre-Civil War Essex but really about many things besides, calls it The Puritan Moment. The argument nowadays is not about the political importance of religious conflicts but about their nature. If there is an orthodoxy ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Babylon, 18 December 2008

... through them, get beyond archaeological evidence and inference, bypass the fevered imagination of William Blake’s and John Martin’s Bible illustrations and hear the voice of a Mesopotamian Pepys? Well, not exactly, but the range and character of what is written down give some idea of the texture of everyday life in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. The majority ...

Empson’s Buddha

Michael Wood, 4 May 2017

... There is​ something very Far Eastern about this,’ William Empson says in Some Versions of Pastoral, meaning the manner of Marvell’s poem ‘The Garden’. The remark is mildly intriguing but pretty loose, and even if we think of Empson as having the thought while he lectured to his Japanese students before he wrote it down, the Orient still seems stereotyped and far away ...

Short Cuts

Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing, 2 July 2015

... Buergenthal, David Cole and Burt Neuborne. Other more right-wing figures vouching for Koh include William Taft, the State Department’s senior lawyer in 2003, who provided the Bush-Cheney administration with its legal rationale for invading Iraq, and John Yoo, the Bush-Cheney lawyer who authorised the use of torture, and is now back teaching law at ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘True Grit’, 3 February 2011

True Grit 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... the simple life, it never quite chases the shadows of cruelty and corruption away, and what William Empson called the trick of simplification was always the thing. The mode kept remembering what it was ostensibly getting rid of. Charles Portis’s funny and violent novel True Grit (1968) is the perfect pastoral of the ungallant west. It presents a world ...

At the Jeu de Paume

Brian Dillon: Peter Hujar, 19 December 2019

... sitters can resemble figures by Nadar or Julia Margaret Cameron. Some of them were famous – William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, John Giorno – or soon to be: Hujar recorded successive generations of downtown scenesters, including Gary Indiana, Fran Lebowitz and Cookie Mueller. Even if he had been only a portraitist, Hujar’s work would be an essential ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... highly recommended. From Paris, it was on to New York. Meeting Partisan Review’s co-editor William Phillips at a party, Sontag, now a single mother living on a shoestring, got right to business: ‘How do you write a review for Partisan Review?’ ‘You ask,’ Phillips replied. ‘I’m asking,’ she said, and, open sesame, she was in. The ...

Tears before the storm

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 24 October 1991

The History of Tears: Sensibility and Sentimentality in France 
by Anne Vincent-Buffault.
Macmillan, 284 pp., £40, July 1991, 0 333 45594 0
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... of it,’ he told a convention of Southern Baptists in June, but ‘as Barbara and I prayed at Camp David before the air war began, we were thinking about those young men and women overseas. And I had the tears start down the checks, and our minister smiled hack, and I no longer worried how it looked to others.’ As his voice broke, and he paused to dab ...

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