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As deadly as the male

D.J. Enright, 12 September 1991

Women Who Kill 
by Ann Jones.
Gollancz, 482 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 0 575 05139 6
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... unnatural in a woman, or downright impossible: if she does kill, she isn’t a woman. Unlike men, Ann Jones says, women usually confine themselves to killing their intimates, their husbands, lovers, children. (They are selective, not serial or mass murderers.) And the murders they commit, Beatrix Campbell protests, are ‘not seen in the context of the ...

Sergeant Farthing

D.A.N. Jones, 17 October 1985

A Maggot 
by John Fowles.
Cape, 460 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02806 5
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The Romances of John Fowles 
by Simon Loveday.
Macmillan, 164 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 333 31518 9
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... informed about the fake soldier, ‘Sergeant Farthing’, claiming that his real name is David Jones and that he is a Welshman loosely attached to the London theatre. As for ‘Mr Bartholomew’, the actor says he believes him to be something of a philosopher, with a dissident and free-thinking bias, a certain mathematical or numerological expertise and a ...

Chevril

J.D.F. Jones: Novels on South Africa, 11 November 1999

Ladysmith 
by Giles Foden.
Faber, 366 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 571 19733 7
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Manly Pursuits 
by Ann Harries.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £15.99, March 1999, 0 7475 4293 7
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... publisher would have taken the anniversary as an excuse to reprint them. Instead, Giles Foden and Ann Harries have produced new examples of the genre. In his first novel, The Last King of Scotland, Foden brilliantly re-created the Uganda of General Amin, portrayed with increasing horror through the eyes of a naive young Scottish doctor. He evidently remembers ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Britney’s Biggest Fan, 21 June 2001

... Ann Widdecombe should now have time to finish her second novel. It was due for publication this summer, but had to be deferred till next year because of the election campaign. The heroine of An Act of Treachery is to be a convent schoolgirl in Occupied France; she falls in love with a senior German officer who, to give the story real moral complexity, is also married ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Alastair Campbell, Good Bloke, 18 March 2004

... limelight. He writes a column for the Times about sport and, following the lead of Tony Benn and Ann Widdecombe, has recently embarked on a tour of the nation’s theatres and concert halls, hawking to the great British public a truly magical evening out: An Audience with Alastair Campbell. It’s hard to think of Campbell as an act with an established fan ...

Spot the Mistakes

Thomas Jones: Ann Patchett, 25 August 2011

State of Wonder 
by Ann Patchett.
Bloomsbury, 353 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 1859 6
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... In Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto, which won the Orange Prize in 2002, a group of international businessmen and diplomats have gathered at the vice-president’s house in an unnamed and, despite some superficial resemblances to Peru, fictitious South American country for Katsumi Hosokawa’s 53rd birthday party ...

Mouse Mouth Mitt

Eliot Weinberger, 13 September 2012

... you $10,000’ made to the dense Rick Perry in the Republican debates or the offhand reference to Ann Romney’s ‘couple of Cadillacs’; the assertion that the typical middle-class family makes $250,000 a year (median income per household is $50,000) – have, in the last few weeks, turned into an avalanche that has not only buried his campaign, but quite ...

Rut after Rut after Rut

Thomas Jones: Denis Johnson’s Vietnam, 29 November 2007

Tree of Smoke 
by Denis Johnson.
Picador, 614 pp., £16.99, November 2007, 978 0 330 44920 5
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... and recover what might be the remains of a missing Canadian Seventh-Day Adventist called Timothy Jones, from deep in the jungle: As they left the mesa and descended toward a creek deep in a ravine . . . there came a faint crackling from somewhere behind the next peak, and they fell under the shadow of a mass of smoke in the sky ahead of them, a black ...

Shatost

John Bayley, 16 June 1983

Dostoevsky and ‘The Idiot’: Author, Narrator and Reader 
by Robin Feuer Miller.
Harvard, 296 pp., £16, October 1981, 0 674 21490 0
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Dostoevsky 
by John Jones.
Oxford, 365 pp., £15, May 1983, 9780198126454
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New Essays on Dostoyevsky 
edited by Malcolm Jones and Garth Terry.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24890 6
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The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes 
by Robert Louis Jackson.
Princeton, 380 pp., £17.60, January 1982, 0 691 06484 9
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... turn parody into new reality and the Gothic into his own version of the electrically banal. John Jones may be right to write off The Idiot in his study and leave it out of discussion. Even its humour is disproportionate, and it is peculiarly difficult to separate in it the essential from the inessential, the blind alley (Myshkin) from the continuing way. Yet ...

Plottergeist

Thomas Jones: Sarah Waters, 9 July 2009

The Little Stranger 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 501 pp., £16.99, June 2009, 978 1 84408 601 6
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... My grandmother’s grandfather died in 1913, survived by his wife, Ann, and five children: four sons and a daughter, Margaret. The sons all married and left home; but Margaret, who was 35 when her father died, remained as her mother’s companion. At some point the two women moved a few miles across North London from their house in Canonbury to Belsize Park, where they lived together until Ann died in 1936, when Margaret was 58 ...

Quarrelling

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 29 October 1987

Tears before Bedtime 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12326 7
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In the Pink 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Bloomsbury, 164 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0050 9
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... You must explain to me why Cyril wants Barbara,’ Evelyn Waugh wrote to Ann Fleming in September 1955, a year after Barbara Skelton’s marriage to Cyril Connolly had formally ended. ‘It’s not as though she were rich or a good housekeeper or the mother of his children.’ The following year Edmund Wilson asked Connolly, now two years into his divorce, why he didn’t get someone else ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford, 12 May 1994

The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... aim on passing cars and people: ‘It used to put my folks real uptight,’ he tells Herr. In Thom Jones’s ‘Break on Through’, the incredibly savage Baggit also has trouble hacking it ‘back in the World’: a few months after his return, laden with honours, he barricades himself in a beauty parlour with his mother for 14 hours before shooting her and ...

Naughty Children

Christopher Turner: Freud’s Free Clinics, 6 October 2005

Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis and Social Justice 1918-38 
by Elizabeth Ann Danto.
Columbia, 348 pp., £19.50, May 2005, 0 231 13180 1
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... of so long a contact with the hard surface,’ the analyst Richard Sterba recalled. In 1926 Ernest Jones set up a clinic on two floors of a town house in West London, with funding from an American industrialist, and Ferenczi initiated another a few years later in Budapest. ‘Eventually,’ Danto writes, ‘other psychoanalytic societies followed with ...

Short is sharp

John Sutherland, 3 February 1983

Firebird 2 
edited by T.J. Binding.
Penguin, 284 pp., £2.95, January 1983, 0 14 006337 4
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Bech is Back 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 195 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 0 233 97512 8
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The Pangs of Love 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 156 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 241 10942 6
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The Man Who Sold Prayers 
by Margaret Creal.
Dent, 198 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 9780460045926
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Happy as a Dead Cat 
by Jill Miller.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, January 1983, 9780704338982
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... superseded species. But recently, things have boomed again. New careers (McEwan, Mac Laverty, Mars-Jones) have been founded on the short story. Other established writers have resourcefully played a two-handed game, writing full-length and short fiction turn and turn about. A learned journal has even been set up learnedly to study the form. As it has now ...

A Life without a Jolt

Ferdinand Mount: M.R. James, 26 January 2012

Collected Ghost Stories 
by M.R. James.
Oxford, 468 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 0 19 956884 0
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... the novels … as the backbone of a ghost story, I have no patience with it.’ And yet, as Darryl Jones, a specialist in horror fiction at Trinity College, Dublin, points out in his first-rate introduction to this compendium of all James’s ghost stories, the phantoms themselves repeatedly break the rules he has laid down for them. What happens, after ...

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