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Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means, 11 August 2016

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman, 21 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 ...

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 ...

Sans Sunflowers

David Solkin, 7 July 1994

Nineteenth-Century Art: A Critical History 
by Stephen Eisenman, Thomas Crow, Brian Lukacher, Linda Nochlin and Frances Pohl.
Thames and Hudson, 376 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 500 23675 5
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... an urgent call for a ‘critical history of art’, founded on an understanding that ‘the only means of gaining an adequate grasp of old artifacts lies in the dual critique of the ideology which sustained their production and use, and of the current cultural interests that have turned works of art into a highly privileged class of consumer and didactic ...

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 ...

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 ...

Which way to the exit?

David Runciman: The Brexit Puzzle, 3 January 2019

... Better still to let the clock wind down to 29 March in the hope that no agreement in Parliament means that no deal can be struck. Meanwhile, for Remainers, secure in the knowledge that there is no parliamentary majority for a no-deal exit, the temptation is always there to push for a second referendum in the hope of overturning the original result. Why ...

Competition is for losers

David Runciman: Silicon Valley Vampire, 23 September 2021

The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power 
by Max Chafkin.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £25, September 2021, 978 1 5266 1955 6
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... had been ‘brainwashed’ into believing in the dangers of climate change. Thiel then tried David Gelernter, an anti-PC warrior and author of America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats). Thiel tried to pitch Gelernter to Trump as a martyr for technology, because in 1993 he had been one of the victims of the ...

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