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The Flow

Paul Myerscough: ‘The Trap’, 5 April 2007

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom 
directed by Adam Curtis.
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... interrupt C-list celebrity interviews with barrages of archive clips. But there are exceptions. Adam Curtis, whose three-part documentary The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom has lately been shown on BBC2, keeps things busier than most, and there’s a great deal he wants to say. Curtis’s reputation is ...


Jonathan Lethem: Theatre of Injury, 15 December 2016

... he is willing to act upon it. We were warned by our European friends. I was warned in person by Adam Curtis, in London, in May. It now seems to me that Curtis spoke pityingly, but also gently, as to one in a dream from which it might be dangerous to be woken too suddenly. In the words of an anonymous writer, quoted ...

Massive Egg

Hal Foster: Skies over Magritte, 7 July 2022

Magritte: A Life 
by Alex Danchev with Sarah Whitfield.
Profile, 420 pp., £30, November 2021, 978 1 78125 077 8
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... time, ‘the sex appeal of the inorganic’. In his documentary The Century of the Self (2002), Adam Curtis argues that advertising co-opted psychoanalysis, and the same could be said of Surrealism – that advertising exploited its art of subliminal suggestion for the purposes of commercial persuasion. For Danchev this is no bad thing. He begins his ...

Amerikanist Dreams

Owen Hatherley, 21 October 2021

Building a New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture 
by Jean-Louis Cohen.
Yale, 544 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 300 24815 9
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Moscow Monumental: Soviet Skyscrapers and Urban Life in Stalin’s Capital 
by Katherine Zubovich.
Princeton, 280 pp., £34, January, 978 0 691 17890 5
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... model of a sprawling skyscraper. Seen as a montage, this array of images has the quality of an Adam Curtis film, a procession of strange, jarring anecdotes set in an exciting and terrifying ultramodern world which now exists only in fragments. There are dozens of possible routes through the book’s texts, whether via Tocqueville’s comparisons of ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... The newspapers reek with blood.’ This media storm, and its meanings, form the subject of Perry Curtis’s carefully researched and informative study. Violence against women was so routine in Whitechapel that it’s difficult to agree when the series of murders began. The killing in April 1888 of Emma Elizabeth Smith was probably a street robbery and ...

Imbued … with Exigence

Christopher Tayler: Rachel Cusk, 22 September 2005

In the Fold 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, September 2005, 0 571 22813 5
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... self-absorption, while her supporting casts contain a number of caricatures familiar from Richard Curtis movies. And although she focuses on middle-class private life, it’s rarely represented ‘unadorned’: there’s usually a literary model in view. Raymond Carver said that John Gardner ‘helped me to see how important it was to say exactly what I ...

My Year of Reading Lemmishly

Jonathan Lethem, 10 February 2022

... Hard SF fuelled both the Cold War space race and Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ dream. As Adam Curtis showed in the BBC series Pandora’s Box (1992), the notion of defensive missiles in space was whispered into the cowboy actor’s ear by two leading conservative Hard SF writers of the 1980s, Larry Niven and Jerry ...

Anxiety of Influx

Tony Tanner, 18 February 1982

Plotting the Golden West: American Literature and the Rhetoric of the California Trail 
by Stephen Fender.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £15, January 1982, 0 521 23924 9
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Witnesses to a Vanishing America: The 19th-Century Response 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Princeton, 320 pp., £10.70, July 1981, 9780691064611
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... to build up a comprehensive Indian archive), Seth Eastman, Joseph Sharp, William Henry Jackson, Adam Clark Vroman, Edward Curtis (these last three all photographers), and others. The whole enterprise was beset by paradox. ‘The ideal American society ... needs continuous regeneration through contact with nature, but ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’, 8 March 2018

by Brian Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... as Proxies. Blanchfield’s family history is complicated and presented obliquely: his father, Curtis, left when Brian was nine or ten, and from the time Brian was 12 saw him very rarely – for an hour or so every few years. His mother remarried, and his stepfather, Frank, formally adopted him when he was 11. Blanchfield was brought up in the ‘personal ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... to the William Morris Agency. Standing in his office are Jerry and Joe – Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis – a bass and a saxophone player. Jerry tries to persuade Poliakoff to give them the job – three weeks in Florida with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators – but Poliakoff tells them to beat it, they require female musicians. ‘Look, if William ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... belonging to Princess Diana that sold for £222,500 in June 1997. The actor and peroxophile Tony Curtis, who must have forgotten that he once said kissing Marilyn was like kissing Hitler, got out of his seat at the auction to tell reporters that Marilyn would have been thrilled. ‘She’d have enjoyed the fact that people still love her so much,’ he ...

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