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11 February 1993
The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer 
by Brian Masters.
Hodder, 242 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 340 57482 8
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... to learning about the causes, and therefore the prevention, of such aberrant behaviour. But is it useful for you and me, with no more than a window-shopper’s interest, to know about Jeffrey Dahmer? BrianMasters says yes, not only is it useful, it is vital to examine this human being in detail, because he is one of us. I suppose the world divides into those who look and those who look away. Looking ...
21 February 1985
Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 352 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 224 02184 2
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Queens 
by Pickles.
Quartet, 289 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2439 3
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Ritualised Homosexuality in Melanesia 
edited by Gilbert Herdt.
California, 409 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 520 05037 1
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... lives of his victims, most of whom still remain unidentified, but why he allowed that link in his psyche between sex and death to deliver him and them into such a mess of evil. In Killing for Company BrianMasters attempts, with the active participation of his subject, to explain how a person like Nilsen came to be; how his necrophiliac fantasies invaded real life; how, in Masters’s words, it is ...
19 May 1988
The Monument 
by T. Behrens.
Cape, 258 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 224 02510 4
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The Passion of John Aspinall 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 360 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 224 02353 5
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... old friends to whom he professes unswerving loyalty, while also professing to have been unforgiving when any of them stepped out of line: forgiveness is ‘unbiological’ apparently, non-Darwinian. BrianMasters’s book arrived at Easter, and its title – there on the dust-jacket on top of a sepia study of Aspinall kissing a tiger – may have been awarded a religious meaning. Did it refer to the ...
25 January 1990
No Laughing Matter: The Life and Times of Flann O’Brien 
by Anthony Cronin.
Grafton, 260 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 246 12836 4
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... life in wartime Paris is not irrelevant to Molloy, Malone dies and The Unnamable, nor is Stuart’s in wartime Berlin to The Pillar of Cloud, Redemption and The Flowering Cross. Ten years earlier Brian O’Nolan, alias Flann O’Brien, had written At Swim Two Birds and The Third Policeman. These two works, of which only the first was published in the author’s lifetime, differ from those of ...

At the Duveen Galleries

Brian​ Dillon: ‘The Asset Strippers’

18 July 2019
... Reign’. At their centre, instead of the regal ‘GR’, is the cursive ‘GE’ of General Electric. The galleries were paid for by Lord Duveen of Millbank, energetic and ingenious purveyor of Old Masters to the grandest industrialists and financiers of North America, and in turn to US and Canadian museums. The Asset Strippers slyly points to the contemporary reliance of art museums on private ...
20 November 1980
Selected Poems 1956-1975 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 136 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 571 11644 2
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Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 224 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 571 11638 8
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... blessed by the imprimatur of better-than-average English reviews. And while it is true that some American magazines, notably the New Yorker, have welcomed the talents of John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien and Benedict Kiely, among others, one could give long odds against a manuscript by an unknown Irish novelist or poet seeing the light of first publication in Boston or in New ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Reading Butler

5 August 2004
... service itself, and the report concedes in its conclusions on the sources of intelligence that the most reliable ones were ‘the least worrying’. One person thoroughly vindicated is Dr Brian Jones, the sidelined MOD analyst who complained at the time about the tabloidisation of the intelligence material, not least its repeated use of what even George Tenet, in the days when he was still ...

Naming of Parts

Patrick Parrinder

6 June 1985
Quinx or The Ripper’s Tale 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 201 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 571 13444 0
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Helliconia Winter 
by Brian​ Aldiss.
Cape, 285 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 224 01847 7
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Black Robe 
by Brian​ Moore.
Cape, 256 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02329 2
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... destruction regardless of whether the quest succeeds or fails. There are several allusions to the Arthurian story, and a major concern is the history of the Templars, whose legendary Grand Masters were to Languedoc and Provence what Arthur is to Wessex. One aspect of Durrell’s ambiguous Grail consists – as befits a banned author of the Thirties and a former associate of Henry Miller – of ...
21 August 1980
The Secret Constitution 
by Brian​ Sedgemore.
Hodder, 256 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 340 24649 9
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The Civil Servants 
by Peter Kellner and Lord Crowther-Hunt.
Macdonald/Jane’s, 352 pp., £9.95, July 1980, 0 354 04487 7
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... or appear to advocate, dangerous solutions to non-problems. Yet in both there are shrewd hits as well as misses, and both focus attention on one of the central problems of modern British politics. Brian Sedgemore’s is by far the sillier and more dangerous of the two, but it is also more entertaining and politically the more significant. Mr Sedgemore was Labour MP for Luton in the last Parliament ...

Diary

Michael Ignatieff: Canadian Elections

1 November 1984
... applauding the winners. The choice before the electorate was uninspiring: one high-priced lawyer with a lantern jaw and a hand on the ladle of the public trough, versus another. When the new man, Brian Mulroney, appeared on the screens in the small hours, waving in ragged colour from a hockey auditorium in his home town, Baie Comeau, Quebec, there were ripples of mockery in Canada House. Canada is ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder

28 January 1993
The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian​ Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... group of right-wing advisers who believe that, by overturning the present English order, they are storming one of the last bastions of progressive education. So runs the latest episode in what Brian Cox terms ‘the great betrayal’: the betrayal of teachers and their pupils over the last thirty years by government interference, false ideologies and starvation of resources. The current cast of ...

A Taste for the Obvious

Brian​ Dillon: Adam Thirlwell

22 October 2009
The Escape 
by Adam Thirlwell.
Cape, 322 pp., £16.99, August 2009, 978 0 224 08911 1
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... who only half-believes in his protagonist. This linguistic unease is something of a handicap in a novel that is so avowedly in thrall to writers its narrator keeps gauchely referring to as his ‘masters’. (Channelling both Tolstoy and Nabokov, he muses: ‘All photo albums are unhappy, in the words of the old master, in their own particular way.’) It manifests especially in a tendency to ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’

8 March 2018
Essayism 
by Brian​ Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian​ Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... on by a publisher. There is a distinction between the literary essay and the personal essay, but it’s a variation of flavour rather than a difference between species. Guy Davenport, one of the masters of essay form, wrote two sparkling pieces a year apart on table manners, one for the Hudson Review in 1979, the other for Antaeus in 1980. Shockingly, there is no overlap between them, though ...
4 April 1985
The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... Contrary to the impression formed in some quarters, I do not know Clive Ponting well. Apart from a three-hour meeting in the presence of Brian Raymond, his remarkably gifted and industrious solicitor, in the early autumn of last year, I have never had a proper conversation with him. And that meeting related to the issue of whether I should ...

Sans Sunflowers

David Solkin

7 July 1994
Nineteenth-Century Art: A Critical History 
by Stephen Eisenman, Thomas Crow, Brian​ Lukacher, Linda Nochlin and Frances Pohl.
Thames and Hudson, 376 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 500 23675 5
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... more so indeed, were broad surveys like the Pelican History of Art, those grand empiricist narratives dedicated to preserving the authority of the canon, and to parading a spectacular array of great masters and great masterpieces in a ‘pure’ space, cocooned from the gross, corrupt world of politics, ideology and social strife. Monographs and surveys are still published today in great numbers, of ...

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