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What the hell happened?

Alexander Star: Philip Roth, 4 February 1999

I Married a Communist 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 323 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 224 05258 6
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... of their escalating and rather operatic emotions. Ira Ringold – husband, Stalinist and radio star – is driven by ‘five hundred things’, yet he never knows what they are or how they add up. His wife, an ageing actress, hysterically imposes ‘the magnitude of her misery’ on those around her. His stepdaughter provides a ‘first-class education in ...

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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... and showed up in a remote California desert town. Joining a threadbare local band, the incognito star helps to incite spectacular musical innovations and barroom brawls – all of them entirely unknown to his mourning fans. In the end, this story turns out to be the narrator’s fantasy, the invention of a 57-year-old retail store manager who yearns to tell ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... professors in the humanities got some attention but no respect. According to its final editor, Alexander Star, who assembled this anthology of articles, its audience was comprised of academics, ‘quasi-academics’ who worked in university presses, libraries and think-tanks, and ‘non-academics’ interested in the ‘unseemly things’ of these ...

On Mykonos

Alexander Clapp: On Mykonos , 16 July 2015

... after deserting from the Romanian army when Ceaușescu fell. He got a tattoo of a black star on his throat after he landed a summer job at his first resort on Crete. He’d worked at half a dozen hotels in the Aegean. Radu could sniff coffee beans and tell you which continent they came from. He could trickle steamed milk into a cappuccino in the ...

Who was in Tomb II?

James Romm: Macedon, 6 October 2011

Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy 
by Angeliki Kottaridi et al.
Ashmolean, 264 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 1 85444 254 3
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A Companion to Ancient Macedonia 
edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington.
Wiley-Blackwell, 668 pp., £110, November 2010, 978 1 4051 7936 2
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Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD 
edited by Robin Lane Fox.
Brill, 642 pp., €184, June 2011, 978 90 04 20650 2
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... a younger woman, a pair Andronikos soon identified as the Macedonian king Philip II – father of Alexander the Great, builder of the army and the European empire that gave his son the means to conquer the world – and one of his seven wives. But it was not long before different candidates were proposed, as experts started to examine the evidence. Today the ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... much pot with his childhood friend Adam Jacobs. He is in love with the 1940s movie actress Kitty Alexander, the star of The Girl from Peking. ‘It amazed him that so many people – in fact, it would be fair to say most people – were unaware that the 1952 Celebration Pictures musical The Girl from Peking, starring Jules ...

The Great Exhibition

John Sutherland, 6 September 1984

Empire of the Sun 
by J.G. Ballard.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 575 03483 1
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Enterprise Red Star 
by Alexander Bogdanov, translated by Charles Rongle, edited by Loren Graham and Richard Stites.
Indiana, 266 pp., $22.50, June 1984, 0 253 17350 7
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Hotel du Lac 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 184 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 224 02238 5
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Conversations in Another Room 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Methuen, 121 pp., £7.95, August 1984, 0 413 55930 0
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An Affair on the Appian Way 
by Michael Levey.
Hamish Hamilton, 219 pp., £8.95, August 1984, 0 241 11315 6
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... of the novel merges into sympathetic pain at what it must have cost to be able to write it. Alexander Bogdanov is probably remembered – if at all – as the heretic flayed in Lenin’s great polemic, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. Bogdanov’s error, in Lenin’s infuriated opinion, was to deny the materiality of the world, so falling into ...


Alexander Cockburn: ‘West of America’, 11 July 1991

... 1993 carry a ‘Year of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples’ tag. In Washington DC the Morning Star Foundation, which sponsors the national ‘1992 Alliance’, is already celebrating the quincentenary of 1991, ‘the good old days in the old country’. A sunrise ceremony on the steps of the Capitol Mall is planned, along with a concert series and a ...

Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox, 6 November 1980

by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... adored of early movie queens walk out at the height of her career and become a virtual recluse? Alexander Walker treats Garbo as a mystery to which he at last can offer an answer. Indifference to the prize, he says; the same detachment that enabled her, at 20 and just arrived in Hollywood, with little English, to defy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the most powerful ...

Waiting for Something Unexpected

Sophie Pinkham: Gaito Gazdanov, 6 March 2014

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf 
by Gaito Gazdanov, translated by Bryan Karetnyk.
Pushkin, 167 pp., £7.99, November 2013, 978 1 78227 072 0
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... drinks in Montparnasse, and settled on the rue de Vaugirard, or near the Orthodox Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky, or in suburbs like Boulogne-Billancourt. The appeal was obvious: many educated Russians had learned French as children, and Russia had always admired French culture. The penniless émigrés were rarely able to practise their old professions, and ...

Lots to Digest

Gabriele Annan, 3 August 1995

Red Earth and Pouring Rain 
by Vikram Chandra.
Faber, 520 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 571 17455 8
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... from. In any case it’s not a train of events so much as a tangle – like the Gordian knot that Alexander of Macedon had to cut in order to conquer India. Alexander’s desire for conquest is put down to his insistence on holding back his bowel motion. This idea is floated in a comical dialogue from an unpublished play by ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren, 5 November 1981

Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... actually gives us a list of people who wouldn’t talk about his hero: these include Claire Bloom, Alexander Cohen, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Griffiths, Joseph Losey, James Mason, Vincente Minnelli, Mike Nichols, Rachel Roberts, Daphne Rye, Jean Simmons, and three of his wives, Sybil Christopher, Elizabeth Taylor and Susan ...

In an Ocean of Elizabeths

Terry Eagleton: Rochester, 23 October 2014

Blazing StarThe Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
by Alexander Larman.
Head of Zeus, 387 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 78185 109 8
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... itself, the nobility is both attractive and alarming. In his biography of the real-life Rochester, Alexander Larman provides a workmanlike account of an improvident life. John Wilmot was born in 1647 on All Fools’ Day. His father, one of Charles II’s most stalwart lieutenants, had fought for the king and fled the field with him after the royalist defeat at ...

The Candidate of Beauty

Alexander Stille: D’Annunzio and the Pursuit of Glory, 2 July 1998

Gabriele D’Annunzio: Defiant Archangel 
by John Woodhouse.
Oxford, 420 pp., £25, February 1998, 0 19 815945 5
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... on a large international audience. (Byron was a prototype for the scandalous poet as literary star but lived before the telegraph and mass-circulation newspaper.) Already in 1879, at the age of 16, he had sent the newspapers a false report of his own death in order to publicise his first book of poems: Gabriele D’Annunzio, the young poet, already well ...


Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event , 20 April 1995

... starring Bill Murray, which took the piss out of the repetitious and the banal by capturing the star in a time-warp where he was doomed to enact the same day over and over again until he could learn to act his way out of it. Other smart films have been made on dumb subjects, or about apparently dumb people. Rain Man was a masterly study of the idiot ...

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