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A Row of Shaws

Terry Eagleton: That Bastard Shaw

21 June 2018
Judging Shaw 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Royal Irish Academy, 381 pp., £28, October 2017, 978 1 908997 15 9
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... Thinker, a loincloth around his waist. ‘Like Dylan or Bowie,’ O’Toole remarks, ‘he was one of the great masters of self-invention, a nobody who captured the zeitgeist.’ In fact, Shaw and Bob Dylan are the only two people to have won both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize. Like Wilde, he was his own most precious creation. Churchill called him ‘the greatest living master of letters in the ...
6 March 1997
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... Bristol’s Hippodrome theatre. He was completely won over by the theatrical life, and before he had reached school-leaving age, he ran away from home to join a troupe of acrobats in Norwich called Bob Pender’s Knockabout Comedians. When his father found him, he made him return to school, where Archie did his ‘unlevel best to flunk at everything’, as Grant later said. He got himself expelled ...

Greasers and Rah-Rahs

John Lahr: Bruce Springsteen’s Memoir

2 February 2017
Born to Run 
by Bruce Springsteen.
Simon and Schuster, 510 pp., £20, September 2016, 978 1 4711 5779 0
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... balls and regret. These thoughts came to me as I sat in the second row at the ICA on an uncommonly warm October midday, so close to the leather-jacketed, blue-jeaned rock idol (the ‘love child of Bob Dylan and James Brown’, as Jon Stewart joked) that we could almost have fist-bumped. To get this close, we journos had to bring specific photo ID (‘driver’s licence or passport’), be searched ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock

30 November 2000
King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... their privacy,’ he says. ‘They’ve sold their privacy.’ Denny talks too much (and too well) for a photographer, he’s altogether too articulate. But then he’s also a guitarist, colleague of Bob Calvert, connection of Hawkwind, essential element in The Deep Fix: he’s done things that Moorcock has done and he’s picked up some of the chat. We track Denny, son of the last Londoner hanged ...
5 April 1984
Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmid: The Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob​ Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... in July’, may be taken as typical, both in respect of quality and of relevance to the text. Visiting Englishmen are admitted and the locals range from Drummond of Hawthornden to Garioch, MacCaig, Stewart Conn and Bold. MacDiarmid is represented by ‘Old Wife in High Spirits in an Edinburgh Pub’. Altogether a pleasing anthology of its kind ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al

1 September 2005
Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... and innovative musicians. Yet the movement wasn’t made up only of worldly grown-ups such as the Raincoats’ Ana da Silva, who was 27 when they formed, had a doctorate and had written a thesis on Bob Dylan. It also contained excited teenagers. Mark Stewart was a 6’7’’ white boy from Bristol who loved black music. In 1978, aged 17, he and four others formed the Pop Group. The conceptual ...

Squealing to Survive

John Lahr: Clancy was here

19 July 2018
Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos 
by Clancy Sigal.
Icon, 352 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 1 78578 439 2
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The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years 
by Clancy Sigal.
Bloomsbury, 274 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 4088 8580 2
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... he called them. He joined the Communist Party at 15, the army at 19, and at 21 he got himself to UCLA on the GI Bill, where he studied English and edited the Daily Bruin (Watergate conspirators Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were his arch-enemies on the paper). By then, he’d already been part of the Allied occupation of Germany pulling bodies out of the rubble, gone AWOL to attend the ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2013

9 January 2014
... satisfy the convictions of the Richard III Society, who were stumping up for the whole exercise. Bracketed in my mind with the ‘Bacon is Shakespeare’ lot, the Richard III fans seem not without a bob or two and with some of their barmier members on parade in the programme.Just east of Leeds and not far from Towton and its bloody battlefield is Lead Church, a medieval cell of a chapel which ...

The Club and the Mob

James Meek: The Shock of the News

6 December 2018
Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now 
by Alan Rusbridger.
Canongate, 464 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 78689 093 1
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... access to medical research, computer software, songs, films, books and newspaper articles – indeed, the very definition of ‘free’ – got blurred. An out of context fragment of an old remark by Stewart Brand, the former editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, from a hackers’ conference in 1984, was much quoted: ‘Information wants to be free.’ Alongside this idealism, to which staff and readers of ...

Festival of Punishment

Thomas Laqueur: On Death Row

5 October 2000
Proximity to Death 
by William McFeely.
Norton, 206 pp., £17.95, January 2000, 0 393 04819 5
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Death Row: The Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment 
edited by Bonnie Bobit.
Bobit, 311 pp., $24.95, September 1999, 0 9624857 6 4
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... other two Justices voted with the majority on procedural grounds and it is their views which precipitated the very odd discussion in which we in the US are engaged today. One of them, Justice Potter Stewart, held that Furman’s punishment would be ‘cruel and unusual’ as a matter of statistical observation: to find oneself the one man to be executed out of several thousand who were eligible was ...

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