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Outbreak of Pleasure

Angus Calder, 23 January 1986

Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... seemingly noble relinquishment of the world’s largest territorial empire. Even now, Brian Lapping, producer of Granada TV’s End of Empire series, whose related book presents, somewhat laboriously, a great deal of intelligent research, cannot forbear to cheer on some occasions, and on others to pipe his eye. Positive points in Britain’s favour ...

Screwdriver in the Eye

Paul Mendez: David Keenan, 7 October 2021

by David Keenan.
White Rabbit, 168 pp., £14.99, November 2020, 978 1 4746 1705 5
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Monument Maker 
by David Keenan.
White Rabbit, 808 pp., £25, August, 978 1 4746 1709 3
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... critic). Ian Curtis seems to have been the model for the band’s lead singer, Lucas Black, whose brain condition results in short-term memory loss, hence his copious written notes. The people around Black are either hopelessly attracted to his ‘endearing combination of, like, startling intellect and this weird childlike quality’ or freaked out by his ...

Great American Disaster

Christopher Reid, 8 December 1988

To Urania: Selected Poems 1965-1985 
by Joseph Brodsky.
Penguin, 174 pp., £4.99, September 1988, 9780140585803
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... his salt have allowed Brodsky to get away with this, for instance, from ‘Kellomäki’: Flat, lapping swells of the sea starting with B, in curves, resembling bleak thoughts about oneself, ran course onto the empty beach and froze into wrinkles there. The twitching gauze of the hawthorn twigs at times would compel one’s stark- naked eye to develop a ...

Involuntary Memories

Gaby Wood, 8 February 1996

Last Orders 
by Graham Swift.
Picador, 295 pp., £15.99, January 1996, 0 330 34559 1
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... is asking Why-whywhy. No repetition of that neat word ‘accident’ can stop the siren in his brain. Waterland And I see them all hanging up before me, like clothes on a rack, all the jobs, tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, and you have to pick one and then you have to pretend for the rest of your life that that’s what you are. So they ain’t no ...

The State with the Prettiest Name

Michael Hofmann: ‘Florida’, 24 May 2018

by Lauren Groff.
Heinemann, 275 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 78515 188 0
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... sand fleas (‘no-see-ums’) to torpid yellow lizards stretched on the window screens at night, lapping at insects. An acquaintance decided against settling here: the frogs were too loud. If the Almighty had intended for us to live here, surely He would have given us webbed feet. Or gills. Or cold blood. The urban legend has alligators tenanting swimming ...

The Prophet’s Hair

Salman Rushdie, 16 April 1981

... the town. That night, the large house on the shore of the lake lay blindly waiting, with silence lapping at its walls. A burglar’s night: clouds in the sky and mists on the winter water. Hashim the moneylender was asleep, the only member of his family to whom sleep had come that night. In another room, his son Atta lay deep in the coils of his coma with a ...

Back from the Underworld

Marina Warner: The Liveliness of the Dead, 17 August 2017

The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Princeton, 711 pp., £27.95, October 2015, 978 0 691 15778 8
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... knowledge; yet in 18th-century England, Hogarth’s horrific scene of an autopsy (where a dog is lapping up the discarded innards), shows that to be used for science was dreadful, fitting punishment of the damned in the here and now, and medical tomb-robbers set so much horror and disgust reverberating that Mary Shelley conceived her monster as made from ...
... had made its struggling appearance, incongruous but naturally so, because Sandy’s higher brain centre collects incongruities. Even more than Aunt Edna, Sandy is linguistically a magpie. But he is a magpie in slow motion. Edna attacks, Sandy retreats. He is consequently better qualified than she as an emblem and paradigm of Australian English, which ...

The dead are all around us

Hilary Mantel: Helen Duncan, 10 May 2001

Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches 
by Malcolm Gaskill.
Fourth Estate, 402 pp., £15.99, April 2001, 1 84115 109 2
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... of the music-hall, a low-class amusement, reactive even: washed in on a tide of irrationality, lapping against the stony convictions of Victorian science. But, as Gaskill describes, the opposite case is true: the rise of spiritualism coincided with the high point of scientific materialism, and the assumptions of one creed fed the other. If you attended a ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... sex and free verse’. Kleinzahler sought to challenge this idea of the softening of Gunn’s brain in California. ‘The city,’ he wrote, ‘will become his central theme, character and event being played out on its street corners, in its rooms, bars, bathhouses, stairwells, taxis.’ Kleinzahler also notes that, even when the poems became more relaxed ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... ebbed and ebbed and dark and sleep and oblivion came and came, surging, surging, surging inward, lapping and drowning with no-name, no-identity, none at all.’ Later that summer, she also dated Dick’s brother Perry, though Dick had told her he’d like to marry her once he was at Harvard Medical School, a ‘let’s wait and keep our fingers crossed ...

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