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Feral Chihuahuas

Jessica Olin: A.M. Homes goes west

22 June 2006
This Book Will Save Your Life 
by A.M. Homes.
Granta, 372 pp., £14.99, June 2006, 1 86207 848 3
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... This book will save your life’: it’s a bold claim. In A.M. Homes’s new novel, Richard Novak has systematically removed himself from the world of human relationships. In the wake of a failed marriage, he moved to Los Angeles and set up a perfectly ordered existence ...

Gender Distress

Elaine Showalter

9 May 1996
In the Cut 
by Susanna Moore.
Picador, 180 pp., £12.99, April 1996, 0 330 34452 8
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The End of Alice 
by A.M. Homes.
Scribner, 271 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 684 81528 1
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... and masochist, male and female, that have become central obsessions of contemporary culture. Susanna Moore’s novel In the Cut, which laconically describes a ‘liberated’ woman’s fascination with sexual danger, ends in a gruesome encounter between knifer and knifed. ‘This dress is a mess,’ the killer says to his ...

Closed off, Walled in

Saree Makdisi: The withdrawal from Gaza

1 September 2005
... of Palestine in 1948. Most of its inhabitants are descendants of people driven from their homes during the creation of Israel. Most of the Israeli settlers cleared from Gaza will move to the coastal plain south of Jaffa, which is where the refugees of Gaza came from in the first place. Not one Palestinian village there survived the destruction of ...


Mike Davis: California Burns

15 November 2007
... and nervous pets as well as to lorry drivers and joggers (sometimes scythed by razor-sharp palm fronds). Technically, they are ‘föhns’, after the warm winds that stream down from the leeward side of the Alps, but the Southern California term is a ‘Santa Ana’, probably in ironic homage to Mexico’s singularly ...

Short Cuts

Tariq Ali: Af-Pak

19 November 2009
... Afghanistan, with twin disasters on the political and military fronts. First, Kai Eide, the UN headman in Kabul, a well-meaning, but not very bright Norwegian, fell out with his deputy, Peter Galbraith, who as the de facto representative of the US State Department had decreed that President Karzai’s election was rigged and went public about it. His ...

Porringers and Pitkins

Keith Thomas: The Early Modern Household

5 July 2018
A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 
by Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson.
Yale, 311 pp., £40, October 2017, 978 0 300 19501 9
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... of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in England during the Middle Ages. Reissued in 1871 as The Homes of Other Days, it contained more than three hundred illustrations drawn from medieval manuscripts by the brilliant engraver F.W. Fairholt. Wright was highly informative on domestic lighting, heating, meals, clothes, furniture and recreations, though not as ...


Long Ling: What really happened in Yancheng?

23 January 2020
... The​ classroom filled up with a mixture of recent graduates and postgraduates, together with people who wanted to change careers or who had spent the years since graduating preparing for the exam. We sat on small hard chairs and squeezed our legs under the small desks. The people in the high-school classroom were not just my competitors; they might also be my future colleagues ...


Ian Gilmour: The Terminal 5 Enquiry

19 March 1998
... running for nearly three years; the Inspector, Colin Vandermeer QC, and his co-adjutors, must be almost, so to speak, terminally bored. Yet they are still alert, courteous and formidably knowledgeable. Heathrow is the worst-sited major airport in the world. Probably no other country would be crazy enough to place its principal airport at a spot which, when ...

Astonish Mould and Mildew

Andrew O’Hagan: Bless this House with Less

10 October 2019
Hinch Yourself Happy: All the Best Cleaning Tips to Shine Your Sink and Soothe Your Soul 
by Mrs Hinch.
Michael Joseph, 288 pp., £12.99, April 2019, 978 0 241 39975 0
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... My mother’s​ right hand ended in a cloth. She cleaned the local school from six a.m. and again in the evening, doing a chip shop in between. I got to know all the women. They were presided over by a series of delinquent janitors. (One of them was running guns for Ulster. Another stole video equipment. The older one was a kiddie-fiddler etc ...

Aunt Twackie’s Bazaar

Andy Beckett: Seventies Style

19 August 2010
70s Style and Design 
by Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.90, November 2009, 978 0 500 51483 2
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... another says. In 2010, this space-age bachelor pad set-up looks frail and old-fashioned – a museum piece, rather than a scene from recent cultural history. Parts of the 1970s are beginning to seem as remote as the 1950s. Two pages later, there is another photograph, this time of a model wearing designer sunglasses ...

What will she say?

Misha Renou: Myanmar’s Election

5 November 2015
... who decided in 1948 that Burma’s independence from Britain should be declared at 4.20 a.m.; who in 1970 decided to switch to driving on the right; and in 1987 to demonetise certain banknotes, thus wiping out savings and preparing the ground for the uprising that brought Aung San Suu Kyi to national prominence. In 2005, planetary alignments helped ...


M.J. Hyland: A memoir

6 May 2004
... 2002, he was released from a Brisbane prison after serving 20 months of a four-year sentence for armed robbery, which makes him sound dangerous and exciting. Far from it. He’s five foot nothing, wears thick spectacles, speaks slowly with a broad Dublin accent and is polite to strangers. He was 56 at the time of the robbery. He was gambling in the Chinese ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water

31 July 2008
... of Chuck Pavey and his floodwater hand. There’s Pavey, a 66-year-old retired electrician in a Manchester United hooded top, a wispy white pageboy haircut and dark glasses, standing by a wall on the bank of the River Avon. He’s holding his right hand horizontally in the air, about thirty centimetres above the top of the wall, which comes up to his ...


Diana Stone: Nightmares in Harare

7 March 2019
... in which grace is written into its daily greeting:‘Maswera sei?’ ‘Are you well?’‘Taswera maswerawo.’ ‘I’m well only if you’re well.’‘Taswera.’ ‘I’m well.’*I was back in Harare, visiting my grandmother, when the riots began.My grandmother is in her nineties, and lives in a cluster of cottages in a northern suburb which ...

The Undertaking

Thomas Lynch

22 December 1994
... well into the next century. My rolling stock includes a hearse, a limo, two Fleetwoods, and a mini-van with darkened windows our price-list calls a service vehicle and everyone in town calls the Dead Wagon. I used to use the ‘unit pricing method’ – the old package deal. It meant you had only one number to look at. It was a large number. Now ...

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