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Hit the circuit

Theo Tait: Michael Ondaatje, 20 July 2000

Anil's Ghost 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 9780747548652
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... at the Government: ‘Who was he? This representative of all those lost voices. To give him a name would name the rest.’ The method is familiar from Ondaatje’s earlier work. Though the story of Anil and Sailor could be the basis for a detective story or political thriller, he’s more interested in epiphanies, in ...


Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... footprints’ like the AT&T tower ‘were not just advertisements’, explained Billy Payne, chairman of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games: they showcased ‘state-of-the-art technology’ that ‘people will be seeing for the first time’. The Coca-Cola Corporation built its Olympic City entertainment centre at the northern edge ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... film – apart from Jack Nicholson’s masterly cameo – is how unpleasant the Hopper character, Billy (think Billy the Kid), is from start to finish. His plain nastiness in almost all situations, including those that warrant none, is actually a bit of a relief played against Fonda’s beatific and self-righteous Wyatt ...


D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

by William Kennedy.
Viking, 227 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 670 40176 5
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In Custody 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780434186358
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Flaubert’s Parrot 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 190 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 241 11374 1
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... urged the Viking Press to publish it, since he admired Kennedy’s other Albany novels, Legs and Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game: both these books have now been re-published as Penguin paperbacks.* The first is about the Albany gangster, Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond; the second is about a poker-player and pool hustler called ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means, 11 August 2016

by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... and the captive witness to many of Rake’s many murders, is a girl called Meg Allen. (As her last name suggests, Meg also appears in Hystopia’s frame story, as the wayward sister of Eugene.) Meg is a freckled teenager, not a combat veteran, but the mental breakdown she suffered after her boyfriend, Billy-T, died in ...


John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... amiable mother and abused by a drunken stockbroker stepfather, Jock (Ms Bargate likes a meaningful name). Grown up, she is seduced and bullied into a septic abortion by her timid, clap-ridden fiancé Tim. He changes his mind, but too late: Sadie is sterile. Tim, now a selfish husband, knows this, but lets the ignorant heroine attend the infertility clinic for ...

The Taste of Peapods

Matthew Reynolds: E.L. Doctorow, 11 February 2010

Homer and Langley 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Little, Brown, 224 pp., £11.99, January 2010, 978 1 4087 0215 4
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... they create a network of defining possibilities along which characters can advance. Of course (in Billy Bathgate) a bright-eyed boy juggling on street corners in the Bronx in the 1930s is going to be noticed by the passing gangster boss Dutch Schultz and get drawn into his orbit; of course (in The Book of Daniel) the son of a Communist couple sent to the ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice, 11 October 2018

... of America. From the solemn, marmoreal repose of statues to the Newark motel bearing Lincoln’s name and image, Tice’s camera pans across the culture, sometimes inflected through the lens of a sociologist, sometimes an anthropologist or student of urban design, sometimes a homespun surrealist. But the place with which he is most familiar and understands ...

The Jains and the Boxer

Douglas Oliver, 31 August 1989

... may be scarcely bearable: the filth (mala) on the acarya Hemacandra brought his sect the honorary name of Maladharin. We find such things in the Cheyasutta Mahanisiha, whose Salluddharana explains contrition and confession; and whose Kammavivagavivarana 2 The boxer imposes 100 per cent will punching harm into harm in sadistic rhythms. He’s called Alan Boum ...

Short Cuts

Colin Smith: Carlos the Jackal, 26 January 2012

... the legends of America’s Old West enjoyed with the dime novelists who turned William Bonney into Billy the Kid. In fact he has already been the subject of almost as many films as Billy the Kid and inspired nearly as many books. Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy have both written novels about him; my biography of him appeared in ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... lose.’ Chisum, in which John Wayne played a godlike rancher, was Hollywood’s first serious Billy the Kid movie since Arthur Penn’s 1956 adaptation of Gore Vidal’s Left-Handed Gun. Although much concerned with issues of law and order, it is not quite an establishment Western. In it, Billy is (initially) among the ...


Patricia Craig, 19 September 1985

But for Bunter 
by David Hughes.
Heinemann, 223 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 434 35410 4
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Bunter Sahib 
by Daniel Green.
Hodder, 272 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 340 36429 7
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The Good Terrorist 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 370 pp., £9.50, September 1985, 0 224 02323 3
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Unexplained Laughter 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 155 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7156 2070 3
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Polaris and Other Stories 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 237 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 340 33227 1
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... David Hughes even devises a comic genesis, involving Bunter, for Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Billy Bunter? ‘Bunter,’ states Hughes’s narrator firmly at the start of the novel, ‘was a character in a schoolboy paper called the Magnet. He came on the scene in 1908 when he was 14 and vanished from it, having added not a year to his age, when the ...

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

E.S. Turner, 19 December 1991

Alistair MacLean 
by Jack Webster.
Chapmans, 326 pp., £18, November 1991, 1 85592 519 2
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Alistair MacLean’s Time of the Assassins 
by Alastair MacNeill.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £14.99, December 1991, 0 00 223816 0
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... and otherwise, have helped to further the adventures of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Jeeves, Billy Bunter and Charles Pooter; not forgetting, from an earlier age, Flashman and Rochester’s mad wife. In a class of their own come the surrogate writers who are authorised to enrich the leftovers of a dead storyteller. The late, prolific Alistair MacLean ...
... were when I was young, Forty years ago – i.e. a full Fifth of the time Port Jackson’s had that name. And after I’d grown up and gone away Like the wool-clip to the other end of the world (Where the wool was turned to suit-cloth and sent back So Thomas Mort, full of ideas as Dickens, Might look the part of the philanthropist) The anchor of the Sirius had ...


Susan McKay: In Portadown, 10 March 2022

... I’m not the brains behind this,’ she said. ‘But I tell you one thing. They got rid of Billy Wright. That was a big mistake.’Wright was a terrifying figure, a prolific sectarian killer who rejected the loyalist ceasefires and set up his own paramilitary group which played a prominent role at Drumcree and continued to kill Catholics. In December ...

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