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Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen

14 January 2002
Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
by Damien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care 
by Lee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
by Christopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... buff’s guide to his most interesting films, and a much better book than its title suggests, Damien Love describes Mitchum’s less-is-more style of acting as ‘a fundamental understanding of what the minute scrutiny of that close camera and the magnification of that big screen could do’. Like many male screen icons of his generation, Mitchum was ...

Once a Catholic…

Marina Warner: Damien Hirst

5 July 2012
Damien Hirst 
Tate ModernShow More
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... go along to Bond Street and see the butterflies hatching in some disused premises that the artist Damien Hirst had rented. ‘It’s a truly beautiful installation,’ she enthused. She described it: the dishes of melting nectar, the chrysalises stuck to the walls, and the startling epiphanies as the creatures unfurled, fluttered ...
30 October 1997
Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection 
by Norman Rosenthal.
Thames and Hudson, 222 pp., £29.95, September 1997, 0 500 23752 2
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... generation of artists, who first came to public notice in 1988 with the Freeze show organised by Damien Hirst, were the beneficiaries of the hard work of the St Ives Group, the Independent Group, the Royal College Pop artists and so on, all of whom had successively edged British art into a position where it could at last compete in the world of international ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘La La Land’

19 January 2017
La La Land 
directed by Damien Chazelle.
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... version of this idea: you know who you are when you’re singing in the rain; you know you’re in love when it’s swing time, when the right person says: ‘Shall we dance?’ Some musicals, especially stage musicals, don’t play with the idea very hard, and rest their case on the commercial fact: the characters break into song and dance because that’s ...

Why can’t he be loved?

Benjamin Kunkel: Houellebecq

20 October 2011
The Map and the Territory 
by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Gavin Bowd.
Heinemann, 291 pp., £17.99, September 2011, 978 0 434 02141 3
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... his son. ‘As long as it did not require too much of his time.’ In such a world, the receipt of love is no more guaranteed than a salary. Flexibility rather than loyalty is the order of the day, and even those who win comfortable and prestigious positions as love objects must worry constantly about dismissal without ...

At the Gagosian

Peter Campbell: ‘Crash’

11 March 2010
... pornography as Norman Rockwell might have painted it. There are installations, such as Damien Hirst’s table of surgical instruments below photographs of a smashed eye and smashed limbs. There are DVD projections and sculpture. This disparate collection has been selected (and in some cases created) as a response to Ballard’s ‘enormous cultural ...
7 September 2000
Aiding and Abetting 
by Muriel Spark.
Viking, 182 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 670 89428 1
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... such a truth does not exactly redound to the credit of British fiction. Spark’s novels, even the loveliest, are performances of containment. Despite their verve, their intelligence, their truthfulness, despite all the obvious qualities which every reader surely enjoys, one often finishes them with an obscure disappointment, a sense that the author has not ...


Jonathan Coe

13 September 1990
by Muriel Spark.
Constable, 192 pp., £11.95, September 1990, 0 09 469660 8
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TheInn at the Edge of the World 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Viking, 184 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780670832743
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... he can’t agree that it should be final: marriage vows are made under the influence of amorous love, which is ‘a state of mental imbalance’, and ‘there is a reservation, under Catholic laws of annulment, that allows for madness.’ His logic is unyielding, and it’s appropriate that he should remind us, in the course of this speech, that Catholics ...


Jenny Diski: New words

1 January 1998
... or MDMA, also known as Ecstasy’) from out-of-print 1991, though they could settle for love dove meaning the same thing in the second edition. Contemporaries, however, should beware. A dictionary is, by definition, no way to find out how to be hip (a word not found in either edition, but used, according to the SOED, by both Erica Jong and Shiva ...

Play Again?

Matthew Reynolds: Douglas Coupland’s ‘JPod’

3 August 2006
by Douglas Coupland.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 9780747582229
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... gym (the Princess Rescuing Vehicle, licence plate: YE GEEKE).’ Like all good satirists, Coupland loves his targets. This passage may be a critique of the interdependence between personal style and corporate branding, but its cacophony of signs also says: enjoy! Yet always, until now, Coupland has held onto a distinction between his own writing and the texts ...

Eye Candy

Julian Bell: Colour

19 July 2007
Colour in Art 
by John Gage.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £9.95, February 2007, 978 0 500 20394 1
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... design as a malign scheme of social control, or the affectless mixer-machine colour binges of Damien Hirst’s ‘spin’ and ‘spot’ paintings. Such sardonic palettes backhandedly acknowledge some past age of innocence, a heyday of fervent belief. When was colour? Should we think back to the passion of postwar Americans for acrylic and metallic ...

Blowing Cigarette Smoke at Greenfly

E.S. Turner: The Beastliness of Saki

24 August 2000
The Unrest-Cure and Other Beastly Tales 
by Saki.
Prion, 297 pp., £8.99, May 2000, 9781853753701
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... have failed in life,’ or wondering how to work off, on the next interviewer, a variation of ‘I love Americans but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is they never try to talk English.’ The Saki joke most venerated down the generations – ‘The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went’ – appears in the first tale ...
18 May 2016
Edith Piaf: A Cultural History 
by David Looseley.
Liverpool, 254 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 78138 257 8
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... crowd celebrating a feast day. She is pushed into the arms of a stranger, with whom she falls in love, only to be dragged away from him again by the crowd, ‘who dance a mad farandole’ that drowns out the sound of her beloved’s voice. She ‘clenches her fists’ and curses the crowd for having stolen her ...

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