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Hagiography

Mary-Kay Wilmers

3 March 1983
Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 173 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 575 03189 1
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... One evening in December 1975 DavidPlante called on his friend, the novelist Jean Rhys, who was staying in a hotel in South Kensington: ‘a big dreary hotel’, she said, ‘filled with old people whom they won’t allow to drink sweet ...

The Pouncer

Julian Barnes

3 March 1983
The Mystery of Georges Simenon 
by Fenton Bresler.
Heinemann, 259 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 434 98033 1
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... I’ve been having these bad dreams about DavidPlante recently. Sometimes, I am slumped on the lavatory, glued there by gin and self-pity; sometimes, I am watching The Sound of Music on television and bawling shameful tears; sometimes, I am driving bad ...
6 February 2014
Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... Not many writers have the gift of seeing themselves as others see them, and gossips, like critics, can be tolerated, and might even be enjoyed, as piano-players in the funhouse of letters. Early in DavidPlante’s diaries, we find him tinkling away, dropping names in basso profundo, as if knowing people and knowing what they do in private can be the thing that makes one special. He is 28 years old ...

Don’t think about it

Jenny Diski: The Trouble with Sonia Orwell

25 April 2002
The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £9.99, May 2002, 0 241 14165 6
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... some degree of regret as life winds down towards the end. And life, of course, has generally only just got properly started before it begins to show signs of not going on for ever. So when I read in DavidPlante’s Difficult Women (1979) that Sonia Orwell in her final years complained to him, ‘I’ve fucked up my life. I’m angry because I’ve fucked up my life,’ it doesn’t seem to me ...

The Virgin

David Plante

3 April 1986
... Elizabeth was in bed. The dog had its front paws between her breasts, and, its tongue out, it stared at her as she spoke to it. Charles, the husband, undressed and hung his clothes askew on the silent butler. When he took off his underpants, he held them in his hands a moment, expecting his wife to look towards him naked. She didn’t. About to throw his underpants on the floor, where his socks were ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter

15 November 1984
Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... blood – he has just had all his teeth extracted. It is bitterly cold, the brother isn’t there when he arrives, and he learns to his horror that his mother died in the workhouse. The narrator in DavidPlante’s The Foreigner is a peeping Tom – twice in the book he experiences orgasm while watching or listening to other people making love – and he tells his story in a detached, remote style ...
2 April 1981
The Country 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 159 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 575 02938 2
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The Radiant Future 
by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Gordon Clough.
Bodley Head, 287 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 370 30219 2
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Farewell to Europe 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 0 297 77870 6
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... outside world’ He casts about for a means of achieving some glimpse of communion with the dead man. The story can fairly be summarised since its meaning and power are vested in the telling. It is DavidPlante’s manner that will attract or alienate readers. The Country exemplifies a mode of contemporary writing almost sufficiently distinct to constitute a genre. The defining characteristic of a ...

Dying Falls

John Lanchester

23 July 1987
Temporary Shelter 
by Mary Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 231 pp., £11.95, July 1987, 0 7475 0006 1
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Bluebeard’s Egg 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 287 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 224 02245 8
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The Native 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 122 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3247 7
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The March of the Long Shadows 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 232 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 24620 1
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... and hidden areas of human life. (One of the stories in Margaret Atwood’s new collection treats very similar imaginings of nuclear war, and we learn in an aside that the central male character of DavidPlante’s new novel works on a science project related to Star Wars. A lot of writing in the last few years – The Burning Book, The Golden Gate, Or shall we die, Einstein‘s Monsters – shares ...

Diary

Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows

7 October 1993
... adjective. Some dedicated verbal warriors continued. Anthony Burgess, Gabriel Josipovici and Eva Figes keep at it. Some, notably Rosalind Belben, have even joined them. But most, like Robert Nye and DavidPlante, have expanded their canvases. The Johnsonian experimental novel has been more or less buried, just as the Little England novel has been more or less buried, beneath the linguistic intrusion ...
21 February 1980
Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Jean Rhys.
Deutsch, 173 pp., £4.95, November 1980, 0 233 97213 7
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Jean Rhys: A Critical Study 
by Thomas Staley.
Macmillan, 140 pp., £10, November 1980, 0 333 24522 9
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My Blue Notebooks 
by Liane de Pougy, translated by Diana Athill.
Deutsch, 288 pp., £7.50, October 1980, 0 233 97141 6
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The Maimie Papers 
edited by Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson.
Virago, 450 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 86068 114 9
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Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Hugo Vickers.
Weidenfeld, 299 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 297 77652 5
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... the account of her West Indian childhood, was ready for publication; the second part, which covers the years from 1907 to 1920 or 1921, had been taken down from dictation by the novelist DavidPlante and was still substantially unrevised. A third section consists of fragments from a diary of the 1940s. The second part is dull by comparison with the first, though the events are interesting enough ...

What are we telling the nation?

David​ Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC

7 July 2005
Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... syndrome). Andrew Davies withdrew his adaptation of Angela Lambert’s A Rather English Marriage from the BBC when Alan Yentob insisted that an aristocratic ex-Battle of Britain pilot be played by David Jason; ITV loved it, but made similar demands. Eventually, back at the BBC, the play got its perfect casting – Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Joanna Lumley – and was ‘bought’ in 1998 by the ...

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