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Can rebels be happy?

D.J. Enright, 23 May 1991

Self-Portrait of the Other: A Memoir 
by Heberto Padilla, translated by Alexander Coleman.
Farrar, Straus, 247 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 374 26086 9
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... After the fall of Batista in 1959, the poet Heberto Padilla, then 27 and living in New York, returned elatedly to Havana, joining the staff of the paper Revolucion. Thus helping to create the god who would later fail him. In 1961 the First Congress of Cuban Writers and Artists was held, its motto being ‘To Defend the Revolution is to Defend Culture’; simultaneously, Padilla says, it became clear that membership of the new Writers’ Union was to depend on approval by the National Board of Culture, a body designed to prevent any repetition of the Pasternak affair ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Spectator, 25 January 2001

... When, in May, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson gives up his role as Tory MP for the Spectator to take over from Michael Heseltine as the editor of Henley-on-Thames, you have to wonder where they’re going to find someone sufficiently blond to be his successor at Doughty Street (from which sturdy address the organ Johnson currently oversees emerges each week ...

Cheering us up

Ian Jack, 15 September 1988

In for a Penny: The Unauthorised Biography of Jeffrey Archer 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 241 12478 6
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... who was he and what did he do? Newspaper interviews with Archer offer a choice. According to Terry Coleman in the Guardian of 21 July 1973, Archer senior served ‘in the Royal Engineers and then in the diplomatic service, and was once British consul in Singapore’. According to the International Herald Tribune of 4 May 1980, he was ‘an army officer who ...

Omnipresent Eye

Patrick Wright: The Nixon/Mao Show, 16 August 2007

Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao 
by Margaret MacMillan.
Murray, 384 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 7195 6522 7
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... a few evenings last summer. An actual occurrence then, but also, as Adams and his librettist Alice Coleman understood, a brightly lit performance with carefully staged arias as well as often repeated choruses and, as Nixon never forgot, a vast audience of television viewers in America. Having successfully launched the show that Nixon himself would shortly call ...

On the Brink

James Lever: Philip Roth, 28 January 2010

The Humbling 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 140 pp., £12.99, November 2009, 978 0 224 08793 3
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... aren’t ‘good characters’ in the sense that you might use the term of Merry Levov, say, or Alexander Portnoy, or Maureen Tarnopol – they’re not vivid or specific, they don’t possess intriguing motivations, they don’t say anything particularly interesting, they’re not very likeable or dislikeable – but in their non-specificness there’s ...

Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks

Adam Smyth: Paper, 14 June 2017

Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... mentions hats, kites, lanterns, fans, money, umbrellas – and for much of its history, as D.C. Coleman describes in The British Paper Industry, 1495-1860 (1958), wrapping was paper’s primary function. In the 17th century printers used paper to fill their workshop windows: it kept the heat in during winter, and direct sunlight off the printed sheets in ...

Jungle Joys

Alfred Appel Jr: Wa-Wa-Wa with the Duke, 5 September 2002

... collection, mainly of blacks (including Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins and Cab Calloway). Unlike his friend Léger, who merely adapted ethnological textbook drawings for his ‘primitive’ stage designs, Brancusi had finally internalised it all, had become an African, if you will, at the age of 62 – a tribe of ...

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