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Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means, 10 August 2016

Hystopia 
by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... David Means​ wrote a novel. David Means wrote a novel! Reading the hype around Hystopia – the new novel, the first novel, so far the only novel by the American writer David Means – you have to wonder how much pressure Means resisted from his publishers to forswear the pleasures of the customary gnomic cipher (American Enchiridion, The Accidental Occidental) and just call the book that: David Means Wrote a Novel: A Novel Written by David Means ...

Overloaded with Wasps

James Wood: Tales from Michigan, 17 March 2005

The Secret Goldfish 
by David Means.
Fourth Estate, 211 pp., £14.99, February 2005, 0 00 716487 4
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... the reason novelists and short-story writers are often quite distinct breeds). The American writer David Means will have none of this. His highly original stories are coats that have been reversed to show their linings. Rather than lightly hint at an exquisite pattern or organising symbol, he likes to accentuate the pattern, to dash it in the reader’s ...

As if standing before Julius

Nicholas Penny, 7 April 1994

Only Connect: Art and the Spectator in the Italian Renaissance 
by John Shearman.
Princeton, 281 pp., £35, October 1992, 0 691 09972 3
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... theories other scholars have advanced about Donatello’s bronze sculpture of a beautiful nude David, Shearman unveils his own interpretation: ‘The meaning of names is important in Renaissance art, and David means beloved.’ Did artists or their patrons really bother much about etymology? A footnote gives only ...

It had better be big

Daniel Soar: Ben Marcus, 8 August 2002

Notable American Women 
by Ben Marcus.
Vintage, 243 pp., $12.50, March 2002, 0 375 71378 6
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Assorted Fire Events 
by David Means.
Fourth Estate, 165 pp., £10, March 2002, 0 00 713506 8
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... footnotes and parentheses. In certain states of mind – distracted, tired – the sound of words means more than their content; there are reassuring rhythms. I bought Ben Marcus’s first book, The Age of Wire and String, in a remainder shop soon after it was published, without knowing what kind of thing it was. I liked the way it sounded: Certain weather ...

In Icy Baltic Waters

David Blackbourn: Gunter Grass, 27 June 2002

Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 216 pp., €18, February 2002, 3 88243 800 2
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... of immediate responsibility for the disaster. His larger purpose is signalled in the title, which means ‘crabwise’, and carries the same metaphorical meanings as in English. This is history as indirection, and on one occasion he spells it out: ‘moving backwards in order to progress’. Grass interweaves the stories of three men whose lives determined ...

Party Man

David Marquand, 1 July 1982

Tony Crosland 
by Susan Crosland.
Cape, 448 pp., £10.95, June 1982, 9780224017879
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... seemed, had changed, after all. Public ownership was not essential to socialism. It was merely a means to an end, and not a very important means. What mattered was equality, and equality could be achieved in other ways. Bevan dropped out of my pantheon, and Gaitskell took his place. Crosland did not join the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: From ‘Alien’ to ‘Covenant’, 14 June 2017

Alien: Covenant 
directed by Ridley Scott.
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... is only death here now.’ Only death apart from her and the severed head of an android called David. She is going to connect him to his separated body, and he will steer the ship to another planet. They haven’t got on well during the movie – ‘We have had our differences,’ the android says in his formal, English manner – but perhaps need and ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman, 20 May 2015

... for them). That’s the thing about first-past-the-post: the winners get to decide. And that means doubling down on the current system. It is not the case that a Tory government with a small majority won’t be messy too. Commentators are already pointing out that if this is 1992 all over again then David Cameron is ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman, 5 February 2015

... start to diverge. The Tories’ failure to get agreement about redrawing electoral boundaries means the national constituency map still favours Labour. It would be possible for Labour to win significantly more seats on fewer votes than its rivals: playing around with the numbers in the predictor grid on the website Electoral Calculus you can have Labour ...

Brown and Friends

David Runciman, 3 January 2008

... all accounts, first thing in the morning) for guidance, reassurance and schemes of revenge. It means that Brown has become dependent on the advice of people who were once entirely dependent on him. This cannot be healthy. Even more striking than Brown’s taste for attaching himself to his former intellectual bag-carriers is the fact that each of his three ...

Three Poems

David Morley, 2 December 2010

... scatty skutsome creature, who thinks she’s horse. The circle needs to be compass-correct, that means me standing centre while the ringmaster strides around me with string and a hundred stakes one hammered in every two paces, every two paces one hammered in. Then we rig everything around the ringside in old order, the big tent, four king poles, twelve queen ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Corbyn Surge, 26 August 2015

... options presented to them. But Trump’s case is also very different. The length of the US contest means there is plenty of time for the old rules to reassert themselves. And when that happens, Trump has the option of running as an independent, which is what a disruptor would do (though the likely consequence is that he would help usher Hillary into the White ...

Problems for the SDP

David Butler, 1 October 1981

... Conservative centre postion, suspicious of radical change. But nature’s abhorrence of a vacuum means that, in the marketplace of politics, if the big parties fail to meet the demand for stability and moderation, others will rush in to bid for the electorate’s custom and fill the vacant strip in the core of the spectrum. Although the country may have gone ...

Boiling Electrons

David Kaiser, 27 September 2012

Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe 
by George Dyson.
Allen Lane, 401 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 0 7139 9750 7
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... tables d’intégrales définies, published in Leyden in 1867 by the wealthy Dutch mathematician David Bierens de Haan. Two years into the atomic age, access to a well-stocked library filled with old, foreign-language books was still required. Hence the need for the 1947 table: although in principle anyone should have been able to compute the integrals, in ...
How far can you go? 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 244 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 436 25661 4
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Life before Man 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 317 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 224 01782 9
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Desirable Residence 
by Lettice Cooper.
Gollancz, 191 pp., £5.50, April 1980, 0 575 02787 8
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A Month in the Country 
by J.L. Carr.
Harvester, 110 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 85527 328 3
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... are special ones, and it would seem on the face of it that the same limitations must apply. For David Lodge is writing about Catholics as Catholics, about their particular dilemmas, their casuistical puzzles, the blind alleys that modern Catholic prescriptions lead them into, about their various ways out, and finally about the astonishingly sudden and ...

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