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16 October 1980
City of Spades Mr Love and Mr Justice Absolute Beginners 
by Colin MacInnes.
Allison and Busby, 254 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 85031 331 7
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... With his three London novels ColinMacInnes hit on a marvellous subject-matter, into which he saw deeply. In other departments, however, he did not have the qualities to match. The books are consequently a frustrating experience – giving the ...
16 September 1982
Double Yoke 
by Buchi Emecheta.
Dgwugwu Afor, 163 pp., £3, September 1982, 0 9508177 0 8
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The Aerodrome 
by Rex Warner.
Bodley Head, 304 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 9780370309262
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AVery British Coup 
by Chris Mullin.
Hodder, 220 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 340 28586 9
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An Ice Cream War 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 370 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 241 10868 3
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Tempting Fate 
by Michael Levey.
Hamish Hamilton, 220 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 241 10801 2
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... Will Nicky try to seduce either of them? Will things get messy? Now read on ... We may feel we have met this clever-naif teenage narrator before, in the novels of J. D. Salinger, Denton Welch and ColinMacInnes. But the device is still successful; and Nicky is, in a surprising way, a prize specimen ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: My Days as a Jazz Critic

27 May 2010
... their satirical and socially perceptive comic strip Flook in, of all places, the Daily Mail. I still have the membership card for Muriel’s Colony Club in Dean Street, which someone – most likely ColinMacInnes – pressed on me, but alcoholic camp was not my scene, nor jazz theirs, even though at one time they had decent background music played by an agreeable West Indian pianist. I was ...

Angela and Son

Dan Jacobson

2 August 1984
Inside Outsider: The Life and Times of Colin​ MacInnes 
by Tony Gould.
Chatto, 261 pp., £12.50, September 1983, 0 7011 2678 7
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... The most interesting parts of the lives of writers often enough take place before they become writers. In ColinMacInnes’s case, one might say that some of the most interesting parts of his life took place before he was born. He was the great-grandchild of the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones, and was thus ...
20 November 1986
Bowie 
by Jerry Hopkins.
Elm Tree, 275 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11548 5
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Alias David Bowie 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Hodder, 511 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 340 36806 3
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... to an elaborate execution ritual before sending the whole thing up with a Cockney expostulation. Absolute Beginners began as a poetic fantasy about the Fifties, which the ingenious author, ColinMacInnes, had carefully disguised as a documentary about teenagers (few of whom appear in the book): when this rave-from-the-grave was exhumed as a Bowie movie of the Eighties, all the faked-up realism had ...

Diary

James MacGibbon: Fashionable Radicals

22 January 1987
... for ever up. But we had our satisfactions. Some of our books are still in print, notably Rex Warner’s volumes of Greek myths and Noel Annan’s Leslie Stephen, as well as novels by Thomas Hinde and ColinMacInnes. There was also the peculiar satisfaction of publishing books right outside one’s ken. When we took on Great Horses of the Year, my ignorance of the turf was such that when one of my ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad

29 August 2013
Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... that allowed their audiences to pause and reflect. Trad reactionaries and Mod wideboys? Doubtless it was never quite so cut and dried. Skim the sub rosa lit of the time (Robin Cook, Alexander Baron, ColinMacInnes) and you’re plunged into a lost river with discrete but commingled tributaries: gay, criminal, East End Jewish, upper-class drop-out, lower-class dandy; the ‘morries’ of Cook’s dodgy ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’

6 September 2001
The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... read. Perhaps this and other constraints of time and space liberated Pevsner, but however it came about he developed through the succeeding volumes a style marked by dazzling feats of compression. ColinMacInnes’s essay of 1960 on Pevsner’s English is also reprinted in A Celebration. It compares him, not very illuminatingly, with Conrad but does little to characterise him as a writer. At the ...

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