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Just a Big Silver Light

Theo Tait: Alan Warner

25 May 2006
The Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 390 pp., £11.99, May 2006, 0 224 07129 7
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... It’s not very clear what The Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven is really about, or why AlanWarner has written it. It’s not that it’s conspicuously awful or straightforwardly confusing, like some of his other novels. It’s clear enough what’s happening and where; for the most part, it’s ...

Lager and Pernod

Frank Kermode: Alan Warner

22 August 2002
The Man Who Walks 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 280 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 224 06294 8
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... Reviewers rarely feel it prudent to begin by confessing bafflement, but the admission may sometimes be unavoidable. This is my sentiment as I contemplate the four novels of AlanWarner. He has been highly praised (‘dazzling’, ‘classic’, ‘significant’, ‘vastly gifted’, ‘a genius’, ‘one of the most influential literary mould-breakers ever’), and I’m sure ...

‘Don’t scum me out!’

Scott Hames: Alan Warner

28 April 2011
The Stars in the Bright Sky 
by Alan Warner.
Vintage, 394 pp., £7.99, May 2011, 978 0 09 946182 1
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... to be almost the only form of public architecture free from the pressures of kitsch or nostalgia. As far as I know, there are no half-timbered terminal buildings or pebble-dashed control towers.’ AlanWarner isn’t a novelist you’d expect to be much interested in the departures hall, being best known for a sort of wild provincial fabulism. Each of his first five books is saturated with ‘place ...

Mortal on Hooch

William Fiennes: Alan Warner

30 July 1998
The Sopranos 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 336 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05108 3
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... Morvern Callar, the narrator of AlanWarner’s Morvern Callar (1995) and These Demented Lands (1997), reacts to the suicide of her boyfriend by lighting a Silk Cut, opening her Christmas presents and shaving her legs in a hot bath. The ...

Fairy Lights

Jenny Turner

2 November 1995
Morvern Callar 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 224 pp., £9.99, February 1995, 0 224 04011 1
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... meat cleaver ... Which knife? Which meat cleaver? And I haven’t yet mentioned the thrill and terror mixed arising from the every sight of that capital H for Him. What sort of novel do you suppose AlanWarner imagined himself first writing? A young boy’s life among the mountains he loved and which constrained him? A piece of social realism, about how hard life is for the isolated, economically ...

Every Young Boy’s Dream

James Meek: Michel Houellebecq

14 November 2002
by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Frank Wynne.
Heinemann, 362 pp., £12.99, September 2002, 9780434009893
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... of asking anyone; but there is something not fully worked through about much of the sexual writing here. Against other European male writers who have been exploring the boundaries of sex writing – AlanWarner, say – Houellebecq’s sex writings in Platform seem like placeholders for something he never quite found time or strength to face up to. In Whatever, Houellebecq talks about breaking up ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Is it just me?

1 December 2005
... scour a few days’ worth of the Daily Mail? Then again, perhaps they got hold of a pre-publication copy of Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit? The Encyclopedia of Modern Life by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur (Time Warner, £9.99). Some of the entries in Is It Just Me . . . ? that have also – or at any rate might well have – appeared on Spoons are: Tony Blair, chick-lit, city breaks, Sofia ...
10 September 2014
... in which the SNP refused to take part. The result of that refusal is now very evident. Ross McKibbin In a thoughtful​ and good-humoured Guardian interview last month, the Scottish novelist AlanWarner said that he loves England and has spent a fair bit of time there but that, like most Scottish writers, he’s ‘a “Yes” man’, one who belongs to the tradition that ‘goes back to the 1920s ...
1 October 1998
Bodies of Law 
by Alan​ Hyde.
Princeton, 290 pp., £39.50, July 1997, 0 691 01229 6
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... shuffling off’ hints at snakes, or even insects: crickets, for example). These complex shifts have been accompanied – and deepened – by a myriad interpretative moves. The originality of Alan Hyde’s Bodies of Law is that he is trying to apply psychoanalytic, structuralist, poststructuralist and feminist theories of the embodied individual to the analysis of American law. His approach ...


J. Hoberman: Did the Jews invent Hollywood?

7 March 2002
Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History up to World War Two 
by Steven Alan​ Carr.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £42.50, July 2001, 9780521798549
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... semitism to express sentiments that are anti-modern, anti-urban, anti-New Deal, anti-internationalist, anti-capitalist, anti-Communist or anti-American. That, at any rate, is the argument of Steven Alan Carr’s Hollywood and Anti-Semitism, an impressively researched and closely reasoned cultural history, which takes up its theme in 1880, 25 years before the appearance of the first nickelodeons, and ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding

3 January 2019
Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... enough at the floorboards of Robinson’s songs, you found yourself in the middle of the Middle Passage. For Stax, Redding’s death was a staggering loss. While the studio was still in mourning, Warner Brothers bought Atlantic Records, the New York label that Stax had long-standing agreements with. When Jim Stewart went over the paperwork, he found that Atlantic, and now Warner Brothers, owned all ...

Long live the codex

John Sutherland: The future of books

5 July 2001
Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future 
by Jason Epstein.
Norton, 188 pp., £16.95, March 2001, 0 393 04984 1
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... the trade, Book Business. In 1958 he and another New Yorker, Barney Rosset, the founder of Grove Press, considered buying Penguin Books’ American branch. The two men crossed the pond for talks with Alan [sic] Lane. Epstein was not impressed. He decided that Lane, ‘like most British publishers’, was in hock to his bankers. The penguin would never fly. Epstein went home to the skyscrapers, where a ...

Injury Time

Robert Taubman

2 July 1981
Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan​ Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... in Crime and Punishment, he can play a shrewdly spiritual game with a suspect. But shadowy Russian prototypes aside, he essentially belongs in the tradition of the American cop, his true home a Warner Brothers movie. He’s not expected to answer awkward existential questions: but he has something, an integrity of his own, that only a hero empty of everything else seems to possess. The empty ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers

20 September 2017
... no one else has done and finger the missing weapons. The LRB piece that caused the most hoo-ha among the paper’s readers, and elicited the largest number of indignant letters, was written by John. Alan Sokal, a professor of mathematics at UCL and physics at NYU, had gone into battle against the postmodern theorists whom he accused – I’m simplifying but not greatly – of having no understanding ...

The Eerie One

Bee Wilson: Peter Lorre

23 March 2006
The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre 
by Stephen Youngkin.
Kentucky, 613 pp., $39.95, September 2005, 0 8131 2360 7
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... in reality, he wrestled with his chronic drug addiction’. Drugs provided the financial incentive for making the Moto films (though he was markedly underpaid, earning only $10,000 a picture to Warner Oland’s $40,000 as Charlie Chan), but were also the palliative that enabled him to participate in such rubbish. A couple of years after the series ended, while he was making the Warner Bros film ...

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