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Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... group-activity, an even greater claim to newness. But what about the loose network which connected Crane, Conrad, Ford, Wells and James? What about the Auden Gang? Both sets of writers have been the subject of group-biographies which, like Brown’s, delineate rivalries and influences. To acknowledge such examples would he to dispel some of the glamour ...

Muted Ragu Tones

Michael Hofmann: David Szalay, 21 April 2016

All That Man Is 
by David Szalay.
Cape, 437 pp., £14.99, April 2016, 978 0 224 09976 9
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... two days. Then I bought and read in a similar manner – none took me any longer than two days – David Szalay’s three previous novels: London and the South-East (one of the great mocking titles, up there with Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, or Updike’s Memories of the Ford Administration), The Innocent and Spring. I want to say that here is a ...


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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... students loved him. Modern critics – especially Scottish ones – have been less impressed. For David Daiches, Wilson is an ‘absolute impostor’ and a ‘windbag’; Andrew Noble tags him ‘the clay-footed prophet of the British-Scots middle-class’. In some respects, Wilson deserves all he gets. As an academic he was a charlatan; as a critic a coward ...

Awful but Cheerful

Gillian White: The Tentativeness of Elizabeth Bishop, 25 May 2006

Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments 
by Elizabeth Bishop, edited by Alice Quinn.
Farrar, Straus, 367 pp., £22.50, March 2006, 0 374 14645 4
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... involves the contrast between the work published in her lifetime – which seems so aware, as David Kalstone put it, ‘of the smallness and dignity of human observation and contrivance’ – and the pain and disorder of her often very messy life. Born in 1911, Bishop was effectively orphaned as a small child: her father died before she was one; in ...


Will Self: Walking out of London, 20 October 2011

... Canal and across Hounslow Heath, or else via the Thames, Richmond Park, Twickenham and the River Crane. But these were walks that terminated at the terminals: now we would have to pass by the vast urban veldt. The first day, we followed the southerly route to Heathrow while the planes petulantly boomed overhead. Along the riverside, Luther mugged it up for ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures, 18 June 2015

... organised by the installation artist Isaac Julien, is preceded by a video interview with David Harvey for those who missed ‘Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey’ on his website. It’s a world away from the sunshine of the gardens and spritzs on the terrace (the product of another empire that claimed the ...


David Craig: In the Barra Isles, 30 October 1997

... burned so that they could not return,’ and not only the roofs but the jib and derrick of the crane that had been built by the Congested Districts Board in 1901 in a belated effort to solve the difficulty of getting boats safely inshore and catches unloaded. Had this been, then, the last outright and forced clearance in the Highlands? That evening I went ...


David Thomson: ‘Vertigo’ after Weinstein, 21 June 2018

... violent. Think of the murder of the tramp wife in Strangers on a Train, or the slaughter of Marion Crane in Psycho. Why does a man want to watch? That question lurks in so much of Hitchcock, and it is something cinephiles might ask of themselves. Sitting in his fine office, Gavin tells Scottie about his wife, Madeleine. He is worried about her obsession with ...

He K-norcked Her One

August Kleinzahler: Burroughs and Kerouac’s Novel, 28 May 2009

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 
by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Penguin, 214 pp., £20, November 2008, 978 1 84614 164 5
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... and shits in America’. The group included Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer. In August 1944, Carr stabbed and killed Kammerer. Near the end of And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a lightly fictionalised and surprisingly engaging account of the murder and of the months leading up to it, written in 1945 by Kerouac and ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... In the Thirties and early Forties the English poet David Gascoyne was much enamoured of the Continental, Late Romantic image of writing and of the writer as a visionary misfit. By the end of the Thirties, his place in the great Euro-Visionary Song Contest was almost secured. He confessed his ambition in his Journals in 1938: Want to write an essay on ‘The Apotheosis of Lautréamont ...

Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford, 1 June 2000

Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... momentously with Joseph Conrad, and develops into a meticulous and heartfelt tribute to Stephen Crane, concludes by recommending an old leather portmanteau as the best possible manure for fig trees. Mrs Gwendolen Bishop no doubt astonished Holland Park Avenue with the splendour of her costume; it’s the onions we remember her by. Recollection was a habit ...


Gaby Wood: On Gene Kelly, 21 March 1996

... white grin, held for much longer than it takes to say ‘cheese’, I can see a glimpse of what David Thomson calls Kelly’s ‘harsh, calculating cheerfulness’. It is a picture of an all-American confidence, one that was not just Kelly’s but belonged to his audience and to his time. (Johnny Green recalls his Freed Unit colleagues as ‘the laughingest ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth, 23 March 2006

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... child growing up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side a few years before the First World War. David Schearl, the protagonist, lives in terror of his father, an implacably resentful man called Albert, who boils with rage every evening while recounting real or imagined workplace slights: ‘They look at me crookedly, with mockery in their eyes! How much can ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote, 21 April 2005

The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... written and of a balls-aching boredom.’ In 1960 he found something he did like. He announced to David Selznick that ‘a delightful book’ called To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was ‘going to be a great success’. He himself, he wrote, was the model for the character Dill, being a childhood friend of the author’s. The first letter in Too Brief a ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford, 12 May 1994

The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... character in Apocalypse Now mournfully observes; but one sometimes wonders. In Out of the Sixties David Wyatt argues that Vietnam remains ‘the defining thing, our war, our story’, and he compares it to an iceberg, ‘a mostly submerged history that cruises through our dreams’. Oddly though, he in the end makes very few connections between the work of ...

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