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Jonathan Coe

5 December 1991
In Black and White 
by Christopher Stevenson.
New Caxton Press, 32 pp., £1.95
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The Tree of Life 
by Hugh Nissenson.
Carcanet, 159 pp., £6.95, September 1991, 0 85635 874 6
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Cley 
by Carey Harrison.
Heinemann, 181 pp., £13.99, November 1991, 0 434 31368 8
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... a monumental tetralogy, puts pressure on the boundaries of the form by insisting that it absorb a near-infinity of characters, events and incidental detail. Less ambitious, but more subversive, ChristopherStevenson and Hugh Nissenson seek to dismantle the system from within by producing novels which look like something else altogether: a form of experimentation which often has rather puritanical ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... dead by 1787 when Burns appeared in Edinburgh under the sponsorship of the gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt. A poet found himself in a city of prose. He came from ‘the ploughtail’, said R. L. Stevenson, ‘to an academy of gilt unbelief and artificial letters’. Mr Royle does not neglect Burns’s social embarrassment in Edinburgh, but he goes no further than to indicate frustrated opportunity and ...

Wacky

Christopher​ Tayler: Multofiction

8 January 2004
Set This House in Order 
by Matt Ruff.
Flamingo, 496 pp., £12, October 2003, 0 00 716423 8
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... others will outstrip me on the same lines; and I hazard the guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous and independent denizens. So wrote Henry Jekyll in Stevenson’s novel. Unlike 19th-century duality, however, modern multiple personality hasn’t been much dealt with in literary fiction. It has flourished on talk shows, in movies and soaps, but in print its ...

Reading with No Clothes on

Michael Hofmann: Guernsey’s Bard

24 January 2008
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by G.B. Edwards.
NYRB, 400 pp., £10.99, July 2007, 978 1 59017 233 9
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... before his death, dedicated and its copyright made over to a young couple who had befriended him; it was they who secured its posthumous publication, when, after numerous rejections all round London, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, to his enormous credit, acquired it for Hamish Hamilton, who published it, with Fowles’s introduction, in 1981. It grieves me that I wasn’t aware of its publication at the ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood

5 June 2003
The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... At the tail-end of 1892 Robert Louis Stevenson was working on a novel. The book was going well but one thing was bothering him. Serial publication, he felt, might be difficult to secure, since ‘The Justice Clerk’ – it would eventually be ...

Like choosing between bacon and egg and bacon and tomato

Christopher​ Tayler: The Wryness of Julian Barnes

15 April 2004
The Lemon Table 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 213 pp., £16.99, March 2004, 9780224071987
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... the point of the adverb? Still, the opportunities for wryness aren’t the only attraction of age. In Metroland, one of Barnes’s many frighteningly sensible women points out to the narrator, Christopher Lloyd, that the attraction of the idea of fast-forwarding to a sprightly 65 might have something to do with fearing the responsibilities of adult life – a fear that he eventually overcomes. Jean ...

The Wrong Stuff

Christopher​ Hitchens

1 April 1983
The Purple Decades 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 396 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 224 02944 4
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... it. For one thing, it was so nearly right. Everybody knew somebody who answered or fitted the description. For another, the older and cleverer phrase – limousine liberal – had gone out with Adlai Stevenson and needed a retread. To take up Radical Chic now (excerpted in this volume) and to turn its pages is to undergo a disturbing experience compounded of déjà vu and disappointment. Was there really a ...

Lying doggo

Christopher​ Reid

14 June 1990
Becoming a poet 
by David Kalstone, edited by Robert Hemenway.
Hogarth, 299 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 7012 0900 3
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... the casual perfect’ – again the highest praise, and with an emphasis on her role as touchstone and inspiration. Significantly, the poets got there first; and later it was a younger poet, Anne Stevenson, who wrote the first book about Bishop. One wonders if this helped or hindered the advancement of her reputation where such things are decided. To have been taken up by Jarrell, crying with such ...

Diary

Christopher​ Hitchens: In Washington

7 February 1991
... realise that before Ireland’s accession Israel had been sitting next to Iraq. Then came the grim day when O’Brien and his Israeli counterpart, Gideon Raphael, watched their mutual friend Adlai Stevenson trudge through a mendacious speech about that same Bay of Pigs. He knew he was lying, they knew he was lying, he knew they knew that he knew. As a consequence, he would sometimes lift his eyes to ...

What are we there for?

Tom Stevenson: The Gulf Bargain

9 May 2019
AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain 
by David Wearing.
Polity, 275 pp., £15.99, September 2018, 978 1 5095 3203 2
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... stability both of Western Europe and of Japan depend’, or else the ‘geopolitical balance of power would be tipped’. In a piece for the Atlantic a few months after 9/11, Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne explained that Washington ‘assumes responsibility for stabilising the region’ because China, Japan and Europe will be dependent on its resources for the foreseeable future: ‘America wants ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes

2 May 1985
Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher​ Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... Briefly during the second act Michael Frayn’s stage-play, Make and Break, transcends its setting, a Frankfurt trade fair, touching on a general gloom. Mrs Rogers is treating Garrard, a goatish sales rep, to the fruits of Buddhism. It is late in the day. Elsewhere assignations are arranged, faces stuffed, drinks swilled. Mrs Rogers’s seducer is impatient of nirvana; besides his hand rests all ready ...
22 August 1996
The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... as a lord of appeal, which must be deemed sufficient reason for putting it on record. Lord Denning also sustains a passing bruise in Lord Archer of Sand-well’s entry on Lord Silkin. Sir Melford Stevenson was famous for stiff sentences, but according to Lord Roskill, ‘those who sat in the Court of Appeal in the Seventies might sometimes find in the appeal papers a letter from Stevenson to the court ...
17 July 1980
Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... Trollope, Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens (gathered in Chapter Two under the heading ‘Institutional America’), Oscar Wilde and Rupert Brooke (‘Aesthetic America’), Kipling and R.L. Stevenson (‘Epic (and Chivalric) America’), H.G. Wells (‘Futuristic America’), D.H. Lawrence (‘Primitive America’), W.H. Auden (‘Theological America’), Aldous Huxley (Psychedelic America ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll

1 December 2011
Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... Macbeths. Among Garson’s dramatis personae were the unfortunate Ken O’Dunc, his ambitious viceroy MacBird, the latter’s goading wife, and various noblemen, including the Earl of Warren and Lord Stevenson, the Egg of Head (based, of course, on Earl Warren and Adlai Stevenson, the former Democratic presidential candidate). MacBird! had its origins in the anti-war teach-in movement at Berkeley, but ...
6 September 1984
Cyprus 
by Christopher​ Hitchens.
Quartet, 192 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 7043 2436 9
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The Cyprus Dispute and the Birth of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 
by Necati Ertekun.
K. Rustem, Nicosia, PO Box 239, Lefkosa, via Mersin 10, Turkey, 507 pp., £12.50
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... a great deal in the way of conspiracy and intrigue that ought to be told. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was a great practitioner of the art in the last century and in this short, sparkling and committed essay Christopher Hitchens writes in somewhat the same tradition. He is a radical British journalist living in the United States who is married to a Greek Cypriot and has an understanding of and love for this ...

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