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He was the man

Robert Crawford: Ezra Pound, 30 June 2016

Ezra Pound: Poet: A Portrait of the Man and his Work: Vol. III: The Tragic Years, 1939-72 
by A. David Moody.
Oxford, 654 pp., £30, September 2015, 978 0 19 870436 2
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... Can anyone​ read a biography of Ezra Pound without feeling unsettled? The persistent anti-Semitism; the eager support for Mussolini; the pain and waste of the incarceration, first in a US military detention centre resembling Guantánamo, then in a Washington facility for the insane; the lasting damage done to people in his family circle; the powerful egocentrism at the heart of all this: the most dire aspects of Pound’s history trouble the reader ...

I want to boom

Mark Ford: Pound Writes Home, 24 May 2012

Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895-1929 
edited by Mary de Rachewiltz, David Moody and Joanna Moody.
Oxford, 737 pp., £39, January 2011, 978 0 19 958439 0
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... By my count, though I may have missed a few, this is the 25th volume of Ezra Pound’s highly distinctive correspondence to see the light of day. The first selection of his letters, edited by D.D. Paige and culled from the years 1907-41, was published in 1950, when Pound was four years into what would be a 12-year sojourn in St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, to which he’d been confined indefinitely after pleading insanity at his trial for treason in 1946 ...

Hoogah-Boogah

James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... Sad things can happen when a writer chooses the wrong subject,’ Wilfrid Sheed once observed. ‘First the writer suffers, then the reader, and finally the publisher, all together in a tiny whirlpool of pain.’ Rick Moody’s The Black Veil is the latest voyage to the bottom of the sink, a journey of self-discovery jinxed by dense fog and treacherous syntax ...

Following the Fall-Out

Alexander Star: Rick Moody, 19 March 1998

Purple America 
by Rick Moody.
Flamingo, 298 pp., £16.99, March 1998, 0 00 225687 8
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... Like much of Rick Moody’s previous work, Purple America charts the lives of the ‘slovenly, affluent’ young. It’s not an especially good life. Moody’s characters are distinctly unhappy, unformed, unable to proceed with their lives in anything like a reasonable way ...

What the Public Most Wants to See

Christopher Tayler: Rick Moody, 23 February 2006

The Diviners 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 567 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 571 22946 8
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... When he published The Ice Storm in 1994, Rick Moody seemed to be looking for a workable compromise between suburban realism and what Gore Vidal once called the ‘Research and Development’ arm of American fiction – the tradition of Thomas Pynchon, Robert Coover, William Gaddis and Don DeLillo ...

My First Job

David Lodge, 4 September 1980

... I tell my students, when we come to Weber in my survey course on Sociological Grand Theory. Look at me, I say: Jewish father, Catholic mother – and I develop an allergic rash at the mere mention of the word ‘holiday’, with all its connotations of reckless expenditure of time and ...

Short Cuts

Paul Myerscough: The Pret Buzz, 3 January 2013

... AS’, a finance student from the Czech Republic, was fired from his job at the branch of the fast-food chain Pret A Manger in York Way, by St Pancras Station, in the middle of September. He had been working there for two years ...

Great Scott Debunked

Chauncey Loomis, 6 December 1979

Scott and Amundsen 
by Roland Huntford.
Hodder, 665 pp., £13.95
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... Debunking explorers seems to have become a popular pastime. In recent years, Oliver Ransford has diagnosed David Livingstone as a manic depressive, Dennis Rawlins has discredited Robert Peary’s claim to the North Pole, and William McKinlay has proved that Vihjalmur Stefansson was a selfish cad ...

Half-Wrecked

Mary Beard: What’s left of John Soane, 17 February 2000

John Soane: An Accidental Romantic 
by Gillian Darley.
Yale, 358 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 300 08165 0
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John Soane, Architect: Master of Space and Light 
by Margaret Richardson and Mary-Anne Stevens.
Royal Academy, 302 pp., £45, September 1999, 0 300 08195 2
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Sir John Soane and the Country Estate 
by Ptolemy Dean.
Ashgate, 204 pp., £37.50, October 1999, 1 84014 293 6
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... in the history of modern architecture. Only two grave monuments in London have been designated as Grade One Listed Buildings: the icon of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery, and the aggressively idiosyncratic construction that is the memorial to the family of Sir John Soane (‘architect to the Bank of England &c &c &c’, ...

We want our Mars Bars!

Will Frears: Arsène Who?, 7 January 2021

My Life in Red and White 
by Arsène Wenger.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4746 1824 3
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... Iam​ an Arsenal fan. I’ve lived in New York for 25 years and still have my season ticket. I have an Arsenal tattoo. On the morning Arsène Wenger announced his retirement, my wife came into the kitchen and asked if I’d booked my flight yet. I’m not a huge reader of football autobiographies, though, and I’m not sure why anyone who isn’t a fan would read one (or read a piece about one, for that matter ...

A good God is hard to find

James Francken: Jenny Diski, 4 January 2001

Only Human: A Divine Comedy 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 215 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 1 86049 839 6
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... Was God created by a woman, a writer who dreamed up the early stories in the Bible? Differences in vocabulary and style suggest that the Old Testament is a composite of various sources. The oldest sections – parts of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers – are more than three thousand years old and there are commentators who believe that they may have been written by a woman, a highly placed figure in the court of King Solomon ...

A life, surely?

Jenny Diski: To Portobello on Angel Dust, 18 February 1999

The Ossie Clark Diaries 
edited by Henrietta Rous.
Bloomsbury, 402 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7475 3901 4
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... for those who never hankered after his confections in the late Sixties and early Seventies, was a dress designer. His designs are in museums of fashion quite as legitimately as a gold necklace from ancient Egypt is displayed in the British Museum, or the uniform of the Light ...

Help-Self

Jenny Diski: Alastair Campbell’s Dodgy Novel, 6 November 2008

All in the Mind 
by Alastair Campbell.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 0 09 192578 9
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... I recently received an email headed ‘Literature and Madness Network’ inviting me to the ‘1st Seminar of the Madness and Literature Network’, which is to culminate in the ‘1st International Conference in Health Humanities’ in 2010. Leave aside the use of the word ‘network’, and the mystery of ‘Health Humanities’: at least the upshot is a conference, which is something I can grasp ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... After queuing outside the club for a few hours, our limbs start twitching with tiredness and amphetamines. Vinegar and aftershave waft in the air. We are waiting to get in, watching the twist of lights inside and listening to the thud and slide of distant music. Those in front shuffle forward in their vinyl clothing, gearing up for reckless recreation ...

I’m hip. I live in New York

Theo Tait: Leonard Michaels, 3 March 2016

Sylvia 
by Leonard Michaels.
Daunt Books, 131 pp., £9.99, June 2015, 978 1 907970 55 9
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... classic,​ according to Italo Calvino, is ‘a book that has never finished saying what it has to say’. I have read Sylvia by Leonard Michaels four or five times and I still don’t feel that I’ve got to the bottom of it. First published in 1992, it is a novel disguised as a memoir, or a memoir disguised as a novel, based on the author’s first marriage, to Sylvia Bloch – a love affair that began in Greenwich Village in 1960 ...

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