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The Whole Point of Friends

Theo Tait: Dunthorne’s Punchlines

22 March 2018
The Adulterants 
by Joe Dunthorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 173 pp., £12.99, February 2018, 978 0 241 30547 8
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... friends. That was the whole point of friends: to replace the family, welfare state and mental-health services.Readers who are allergic to irony and archness may not be impressed – the book is so arch that you could drive a horse and carriage through it – but it provides a steady flow of good gags and is, in its way, satisfyingly resonant too. In its straightforward comic determination to please ...

Vodka + Caesium

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Nostalgia for the USSR

19 October 2016
Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future 
by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Anna Gunin and Arch Tait.
Penguin, 294 pp., £9.99, April 2016, 978 0 241 27053 0
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Second-Hand Time: The Last of the Soviets 
by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Bela Shayevich.
Fitzcarraldo, 694 pp., £14.99, May 2016, 978 1 910695 11 1
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... Svetlana Alexievich​ won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015, but some people still don’t think her books are literature. In fact, they are collective oral histories, of similar genre, though completely different in tone, to those of Studs Terkel in the United States, whom she has probably never read. Her main influence as far as genre is concerned was the Belorussian writer Ales Adamovich ...

The Animalcule

Nicholas Spice: Little Mr De Quincey

17 May 2017
Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 397 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 1 4088 3977 5
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... and unsustainable, but he bore it and hung on. He spent the 1820s shuttling between the Lakes and Edinburgh and London, where he camped out on the doorsteps of the literary rags – Blackwood’s, Tait’s and the London Magazine – feeding copy to the printers’ boys like a man throwing scraps of meat to the attack dogs at his heels. Harried by creditors, he lived on the run, going to ground for ...

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