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Fictbites

Peter Campbell, 18 May 1989

Any Old Iron 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 339 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 09 173842 3
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The Ragged End 
by John Spurling.
Weidenfeld, 313 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 297 79505 8
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Higher Ground 
by Caryl Phillips.
Viking, 224 pp., £11.95, April 1989, 0 670 82620 0
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The Flint Bed 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 185 pp., £10.95, April 1989, 0 436 09788 5
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Stark 
by Ben Elton.
Joseph, 453 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 0 7181 3302 1
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... and globules of pure fact rise to the surface, the dishomogeneity annoys. Some reviewers of Anthony Burgess’s new novel say it has curdled: ‘so let’s say he does know all Walton’s percussion parts by heart, and has the Hebrew or the Russian word for almost anything, is he able to use them to tell a better story?’ I think he is. In Any Old ...

Americans

Stephen Fender, 2 July 1981

The Life of John O’Hara 
by Frank MacShane.
Cape, 274 pp., £10, March 1981, 9780224018852
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... Triangle. ‘Does anyone, other than Mr John Braine, read John O’Hara these days?’ asks Anthony Burgess in the Observer, without staying for an answer. Well, I guess someone does, even here, since Panther Books, not famous for reckless commercial ventures motivated exclusively by nostalgia, reprinted his six best (and biggest) novels last ...

The Eng. Lit. Patient

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Andrew Motion, 11 September 2003

The Invention of Dr Cake 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 142 pp., £12.99, February 2003, 0 571 21631 5
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Public Property 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 112 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 571 21859 8
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... Motion imagines the least imaginative route Keats, had he lived, could have taken: usefulness. Anthony Burgess suggested a wittier alternative in his fictional account of Keats’s last days, Abba Abba (1977), which posited a poet turning from archaic lushness to colloquial bawdiness: an idea cleverly founded on a non-canonical side of Keats – his ...

Diary

Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter, 12 March 1992

... is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath, or even the same paragraph, as such peers as Anthony Powell or Iris Murdoch. Fans such as Kingsley Amis and Anthony Burgess praise Ballard to the skies but they themselves are classified differently, as, God help us, “serious writers” in comparison.’ She won ...

Gallivanting

Karl Miller: Edna O’Brien, 22 November 2012

Country Girl: A Memoir 
by Edna O’Brien.
Faber, 339 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26943 3
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... restaurateurs. ‘You aul whore you, you can’t write,’ he informs her, reminding her ‘of how Anthony Burgess had slated me, had said that after Joyce and Yeats and Co, after the giants, came “the little people”, such as me’. Sean Kenny, the silent theatre designer, another compatriot, might have challenged him, but was now gone, having ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie on Graham Greene, Claire Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary Mantel), and as the limits on the new paper’s resources became apparent I thought how hard it would be to put together pages of comparable stature. There was ...

Aardvark

John Bayley: In defence of Larkin, 22 April 1993

... innocence, an instinctive respect for individuality. Post-war events have certainly seen that off. Anthony Burgess remembered in his review of the Larkin biography attending a fancy-dress party in 1941 dressed as an SS officer. Nobody took much notice. Today it would seem a vicious provocation or an act of tasteless bravado. Humour and ridicule, antidote ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... and easily stop you getting on with whatever it is you are supposed to be doing if you are not Anthony Burgess. About as quickly as I managed to get a foot inside the door, I was sent a copy of Byzantium endures – Michael Moorcock. That one, icons iconing, balalaikas balalaikaing, kept me up nights marking pages, memorising passages, and dreaming ...
... and his brilliant book The Speakers attracted the admiration of Harold Pinter, William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, V.S. Pritchett and more, he has gradually achieved the status of super-wizard in a community of nomads, pilgrims and seekers after truth. For two years he successfully ran the Ruff, Tuff, Cream Puff Estate Agency (founded by Wat Tyler in ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... had to be good’. But ‘good’ isn’t good enough as a category.) Last year’s promotion of Anthony Burgess to official Grand Old Man was a case in point. After years of getting respectful, rather than ecstatic reviews, and of writing the sort of books which perhaps aren’t naturally suited to the British book-reader, ...

Funny Old Fame

Patrick Parrinder, 10 January 1991

Things: A Story of the Sixties, 
by Georges Perec, translated by David Bellos and Andrew Leak.
Collins Harvill, 221 pp., £12.50, July 1990, 0 00 271038 2
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Parcours Peree 
edited by Mireille Ribière.
Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 162 pp., frs 125, July 1990, 2 7297 0365 9
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Women 
by Philippe Sollers, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 559 pp., $24.95, December 1990, 0 231 06546 9
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... writing a novel, and there are walk-on parts for such fellow novelists as Alberto Moravia, Anthony Burgess (who appears under his own name) and the clumsily veiled author of The Hormones of the New Eve, ‘Angela Lobster’. Will, an American journalist on intimate terms with the French intelligentsia, is supposedly writing his novel during a ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED, 20 April 1989

... perfectly smooth improvisation.It emerged that everybody loves the OED, not always as devotedly as Anthony Burgess, who was absent but often mentioned, but with a decent fervour all the same. Certainly all the speakers loved it, not least Daniel Boorstin, ex-Librarian of Congress, who came right out with it, in so many words. Could they have felt this way ...

A Good Girl in Africa

D.A.N. Jones, 16 September 1982

Double Yoke 
by Buchi Emecheta.
Dgwugwu Afor, 163 pp., £3, September 1982, 0 9508177 0 8
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The Aerodrome 
by Rex Warner.
Bodley Head, 304 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 9780370309262
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AVery British Coup 
by Chris Mullin.
Hodder, 220 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 340 28586 9
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An Ice Cream War 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 370 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 241 10868 3
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Tempting Fate 
by Michael Levey.
Hamish Hamilton, 220 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 241 10801 2
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... respect. Anyone who has read my other books will know that I do not even aim at realism.’ But Anthony Burgess, in his interesting new foreword, holds that The Aerodrome ‘functions, in spite of the author’s disclaimer, as a realistic work with larger overtones’. When I first read this symbolic novel, thirty years ago, it seemed almost ...

Night-Flights

D.A.N. Jones, 18 September 1986

Search Sweet Country 
by B. Kojo Laing.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 434 40216 8
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The Jewel Maker 
by Tom Gallagher.
Hamish Hamilton, 180 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 241 11866 2
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The Pianoplayers 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 208 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 09 165190 5
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An After-Dinner’s Sleep 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 224 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 09 163620 5
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Coming Home 
by Mervyn Jones.
Piatkus, 263 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 86188 525 2
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... not concentrating his energies on the pursuit of clues. There is more open use of autobiography in Anthony Burgess’s The Pianoplayers. He has told us before (in This Man and Music) the grim story of his infancy in 1918 Manchester. His father came home on leave from the Pay Corps, found his wife and daughter dead from Spanish flu and his baby son the ...

Wolfing it

Angela Carter, 23 July 1987

Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia 
by Patience Gray.
Prospect, 374 pp., £17.50, November 1986, 0 907325 30 0
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A Table in Provence: Classic Recipes from the South of France 
collected and illustrated by Leslie Forbes.
Webb and Bower/Joseph, 160 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 86350 130 3
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The Joyce of Cooking: Food and Drink from James Joyce’s Dublin 
by Alison Armstrong, foreword by Anthony Burgess.
Station Hill Press, 252 pp., $18.95, December 1986, 0 930794 85 0
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... I bought my first cookery book in 1960, as part of my trousseau. It was called Plats du Jour, or Foreign Food by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd, a Penguin paperback with a seductive pink jacket depicting a large family at table – evidently not a British family, for its members, shirt-sleeved, aproned, some of them children, were uncorking bottles, slicing bread, eagerly tucking their napkins under their chins, faces aglow with the certain knowledge their dinners would not disappoint, which was, in those days, extremely rare in this country ...

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