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A Turn for the Woowoo

Theo Tait: David Mitchell

4 December 2014
The Bone Clocks 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 595 pp., £20, September 2014, 978 0 340 92160 9
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... DavidMitchell​ is a career-long genre-bender. Only with his fourth book, Black Swan Green (2006), did he raid his own store of experience to write a first-novelish novel, a charming if low-key coming-of-age ...

In which the Crocodile Snout-Butts the Glass

James Francken: David Mitchell

7 June 2001
number9dream 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 418 pp., £10.99, March 2001, 0 340 73976 2
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... There are three false starts in DavidMitchell’s slippery new novel. At the beginning of number9dream the narrator sits in a chaotic Tokyo café staring into an empty coffee cup. Eiji Miyake is a mousy young man who has come to the city to find ...

A Smaller Island

Matthew Reynolds: David Mitchell

10 June 2010
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 469 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 0 340 92156 2
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... DavidMitchell’s new novel is set on and around an artificial island called Dejima, constructed in the bay of Nagasaki to house representatives of the Vereenigde Oest-Indische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company ...

Looking back

Hugh Thomas

7 July 1983
The Spanish Civil War 
by David Mitchell.
Granada, 208 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 246 11916 0
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... it would no doubt be inappropriate for me to comment at this time on the result. Now a book has been published by Granada publishers to capitalise on the success of the series. The author is DavidMitchell, a writer not previously known in this field. His mission was to incorporate, not only the material used in the television series, but the numerous other interviews which the producers could not use ...

Outfoxing Hangman

Thomas Jones: David Mitchell

11 May 2006
Black Swan Green 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 371 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 340 82279 1
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... DavidMitchell’s first book, Ghostwritten (1999), which describes itself as ‘a novel in nine parts’, is a collection of loosely interconnected stories. The protagonist of one will have a walk-on role in the ...

Frazzle

Michael Wood: Chinese Whispers

8 August 2013
Multiples 
edited by Adam Thirlwell.
Portobello, 380 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 1 84627 537 1
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... the strangest place will not be the furthest out but the furthest in. This is the case with the extraordinary story by Kenji Miyazawa. It works wonderfully well in all three versions I can read (by DavidMitchell, Valeria Luiselli and the Lethems –there is also an Urdu text by Nadeem Aslam), because in each rendering the curious mixture of fable and satire remains, and the tale of the Birch Tree ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘It Follows’

8 April 2015
... through a long narrative flashback? Neither, as it happens, and once we realise this we stop pretending we know what sort of film this is, and we wait and see. It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, offers an extraordinary mixture of over and under-statement, with almost nothing in between. In the scene I have just described, and indeed throughout the movie, the soundtrack ...
20 February 1997
Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David​ Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... expensive stay at the Ritz Hotel and there, to the fury of the Labour minority, the matter was left. The cover-up was carefully supervised by the Tory Whips office, in particular by two young MPs, David ‘Two Brains’ Willetts and Andrew Mitchell, whose father, DavidMitchell, is also a Tory MP, and once chose Neil Hamilton to be his Parliamentary Private Secretary. The Guardian had told a bit of ...

So Hard to Handle

John Lahr: In Praise of Joni Mitchell

22 February 2018
Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell 
by David​ Yaffe.
Farrar, Straus, 420 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 374 24813 0
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... With her​ high cheekbones and her flaxen hair, Joni Mitchell emerged in the late 1960s as some kind of hippy Venus with an overbite. She was the personification of the New Woman, liberated by the pill and by her talent to take ownership of her body, her art ...

Poisoned Words

Ian Williams

5 May 1988
Indictment: Power and Politics In the Construction Industry 
by David​ Morrell.
Faber, 287 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 571 14985 5
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... like Sellafield. Brunel’s statue adorns Paddington, but where and how would anyone commemorate the builders of Chernobyl? For the Kariba North Bank power station, however, there is now a memorial-David Morrell’s Indictment. Mr Morrell is the chairman of Mitchell Construction, the original contractors for the KNB project, and his book breaks ground unturned since Samuel Smiles’s Lives of the ...

How stripy are tigers?

Tim Lewens: Complexity

18 November 2010
Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity and Policy 
by Sandra Mitchell.
Chicago, 149 pp., £19, December 2009, 978 0 226 53262 2
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... of complexity not captured by these examples, such as ‘chaotic contingency’. Change the initial conditions of a system by a barely perceptible fraction and its fate is altered radically. Sandra Mitchell’s Unsimple Truths – a translation of a book originally published in German as Komplexitäten: Warum wir erst anfangen, die Welt zu verstehen – attempts to trace these contours of complexity ...

Greatest Genius

Frances Harris

23 July 1992
Charles James Fox 
by L.G Mitchell.
Oxford, 338 pp., £25, June 1992, 0 19 820104 4
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... the age’: an Infant Phenomenon like his chief opponent and perfect foil, William Pitt, who, Fox’s mother is said to have predicted, would be ‘a thorn in Charles’s side as long as he lives’. David Hume, encountering Fox at 16 during one of his formative visits to Paris, was startled by his intellectual power and maturity and already foresaw him as ‘a very great acquisition to the publick ...

Death in Plain Sight

Marina Warner: Emily Davison, Modern Martyr

4 July 2013
... and writing plays and journalism in London, and in 1906 joined the WSPU, the Women’s Social and Political Union, but her independent – and extreme – militancy caused a breach. In the words of DavidMitchell, a biographer of Christabel Pankhurst, she became ‘an incorrigible freelance’. In the summer of 1913, newsreel cameras captured her running across the course of the most popular race of ...
2 October 1997
Lord Melbourne 1779-1848 
by L.G. Mitchell.
Oxford, 349 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 19 820592 9
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... in a Room with a Chime of Bells, ten Parrots and one Lady Westmorland to sitting in a cabinet with Lord Macaulay’. Melbourne might have been more scathing still about his latest biographer, Leslie Mitchell. Mitchell’s technique is to repeat – and repeat, and repeat again – his own unsympathetic spin on Melbourne’s well-charted weaknesses. His Melbourne is as monochrome as he is unlikeable ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington

30 November 2006
State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... first Watergate article wasn’t about the scandal named after the huge, white, swirling 1960s complex beside the Potomac. It was about one of the building’s better-known residents, Martha Mitchell, wife of then US attorney general John Mitchell, soon to leave that post to become head of Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President, better remembered as Creep. The story doesn’t reveal much ...

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