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David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return

9 December 1999
1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... explanations as to why Dad’s second renaissance feels more like a restoration. The first is that the original rejection was based on an underestimation of his seriousness: according to the present-day Guardian critic Michael Billington, Coward’s exploration of ‘the thin dividing line between sex and savagery’ in Private Lives puts him on a par with Strindberg. A rather different reassessment ...

Overdoing the Synge-song

Terry Eagleton: Sebastian Barry

22 September 2011
On Canaan’s Side 
by Sebastian Barry.
Faber, 256 pp., £16.99, August 2011, 978 0 571 22653 5
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... example of the species is The Leopard, in which the slow decay of a Sicilian nobleman coincides with the clamorous rise of bourgeois Italy. In a series of works over the past decade, Sebastian Barry has captured the flow and recoil of modern Irish history in the blighted destinies of the Dunne family. Taken together, The Steward of Christendom, Annie Dunne, A Long Long Way and now On Canaan’s ...
18 May 2016
... Kinsella folded his arms and watched her. ‘Now, Mitch,’ she said, ‘I’ll have to put your little coat on.’ She squatted down and unzipped the big shopping bag she carried with her every day. It had check on the side that matched the dog’s topknot. It looked heavy; she was rumoured to have a fat leather purse. She rummaged in, and took out a contraption which she dangled in the air, a ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Don’t you carry?

25 April 2002
... of Selous, the greatest of all hunters, and of First World War fighter aces in the hall. On the floor, a hyena skin, the mouth still gaping wide with carnivorous lust. Across the compound lived Barry, getting on now but still a legendary crocodile hunter. Barry’s wife, Jane, insisted on giving me a haircut as I sat under the giant baobab and listened to Barry. ‘Only got bitten twice by crocs ...

Fellow Freaks

Sam Thompson: Wells Tower

9 July 2009
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned 
by Wells Tower.
Granta, 238 pp., £10.99, April 2009, 978 1 84708 048 6
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... His fiction, too, looks for the particular textures of life in the US, though not always by a direct route. The title story in Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, the only one not set in present-day America, is narrated by a middle-aged Viking. Harald would much rather stay at home with his wife than set off on yet another bloodthirsty raid, but on Lindisfarne there is a monastery to sack and ...
8 March 1990
Louise Brooks 
by Barry​ Paris.
Hamish Hamilton, 640 pp., £20, February 1990, 0 241 12541 3
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... evokes her personal logo, that haircut, those eyebrows. There are sumptuous photographs on the front and back flaps – oh! the patented Brooks version of the Giaconda smile, the one that, as Barry Paris says, isn’t so much a ‘come hither’ look as a look that says, to each and every gender: ‘I’ll come to you.’ (If, that is, she likes the look of you – a big if, in fact.) That ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents

5 January 2012
The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... became Barack at six, when he converted to Christianity. (His father, not a particularly observant Muslim, was apparently untroubled by the conversion.) Barack went to a mission school run by Seventh-Day Adventists, walking three miles but, unlike his classmates, wearing shoes. His father told him: ‘I want you to go beyond where I am.’ On returning home each day, the boy was required to recite ...

Juiced

David Runciman: Winners Do Drugs

3 August 2006
Game of Shadows: Barry​ Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports 
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Gotham, 332 pp., $26, March 2006, 1 59240 199 6
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... Cardinals, who hit 70. Sosa has beaten Maris’s mark twice more since then, hitting 63 home runs in 1999 and 64 in 2001, but he has never held the single-season record. That currently belongs to Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, who in 2001 hit the ball out of the park an unprecedented 73 times. McGwire, Sosa and Bonds don’t resemble Roger Maris in physical appearance, but they don’t ...
13 June 1991
Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry​ Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... One of the many excellent photographs Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don ...

At Bozar

Barry​ Schwabsky: Luc Tuymans

14 April 2011
... the source for this image was wrapping paper from the DDR, which had been dissolved the previous year. So if we want we can take this as a history painting; and for anyone who happened to spend a day on the other side of Checkpoint Charlie in the latter days of East Germany, the painting’s aroma of ‘something that has come to an end and goes no further’, as Tuymans puts it, seems entirely ...
1 September 1983
Horn 
by Barry​ Tuckwell.
Macdonald, 202 pp., £10.95, April 1983, 0 356 09096 5
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... creator saw further than the follower of Chatterton. However quaint the ‘slug-horn’ may seem in Chatterton’s ‘Battle of Hastings II’, it has a peculiar rightness in Browning’s poem. As Barry Tuckwell, its foremost living exponent, reminds us in his splendid new book, the horn began its history in utterance and has never shaken off its origins. The first horns sent signals across dark ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Moonlight’

16 February 2017
Moonlight 
directed by Barry​ Jenkins.
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... him. The boy says nothing, either here or in the car, or when Juan’s girlfriend comes to chat with him. He won’t tell them his name or where he lives, and they put him up for the night. The next day he talks a little, tells them his name is Chiron and what his mother’s address is. They take him home. Several critics have suggested that at this point we are waiting for things to go seriously ...

At the Movies

Christopher Tayler: ‘Four Lions’

27 May 2010
Four Lions 
directed by Chris Morris.
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... A radio and television auteur whose fans tend to be somewhat evangelistic, Morris became famous as the mastermind and frontman of a series of current affairs parodies, On the Hour (1991-92), The Day Today (1994) and Brass Eye (1997, 2001). These were notable for their meticulously detailed exaggerations of broadcasting conventions and their cheerful disdain for moral panics and media self ...

Nature made the house

William Fiennes: Barry​ Topez

29 July 1999
Arctic Dreams 
by Barry​ Lopez.
Harvill, 464 pp., £7.99, January 1999, 1 86046 583 8
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About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory 
by Barry​ Lopez.
Harvill, 275 pp., £12, January 1999, 9781860465659
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... Many of the 17 ‘essays’ in Barry Lopez’s About This Life are fragments of memoir: snapshots of the day of a mother’s death from cancer; early road trips up and down America; Jesuit prep school in Manhattan; childhood years in California; a tributary career in photography. The book begins with a ...

Connections

D.A.N. Jones

5 March 1987
This Small Cloud: A Personal Memoir 
by Harry Daley.
Weidenfeld, 241 pp., £12.95, February 1987, 0 297 78999 6
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... pleasure was derived from the fact that Inspector Galloway was caught out by honest policemen over his dealings with ponces and other criminals. ‘It was nice to see him get whiter and thinner every day, more ferrety-eyed through lack of sleep ... To everyone’s surprise and to my delight, he kicked the bucket ... When I am feeling low, fortunately not very often, I think that if there is such a ...

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