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Ante Antietam

Michael Irwin

24 January 1980
Confederates 
by Thomas Keneally.
Collins, 427 pp., £5.75, October 1980, 0 00 222141 1
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Just Above My Head 
by James Baldwin.
Joseph, 597 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1764 6
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Winter Doves 
by David Cook.
Secker, 213 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 10673 6
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All Girls Together 
by Paula Neuss.
Duckworth, 141 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7156 1454 1
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... mental hospital. The next stage of the story is seen largely from the point of view of Walter, a middle-aged man who has been in the hospital for 19 years. Walter (the subject of an earlier novel by DavidCook) has been emotionally damaged and mentally stunted by childhood sufferings. He speaks rarely and reluctantly, knowing that his voice sounds like ‘a fart in a bath of soapy water’. But he is ...

Carry on writing

Stephen Bann

15 March 1984
The Two of Us 
by John Braine.
Methuen, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 413 51280 0
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An Open Prison 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 575 03380 0
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Havannah 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £9.95, February 1984, 0 241 11175 7
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Sunrising 
by David Cook.
Secker, 248 pp., £8.50, February 1984, 0 436 10674 4
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Memoirs of an Anti-Semite 
by Gregor von Rezzori, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Picador, 282 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 330 28325 1
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It’s me, Eddie 
by Edward Limonov, translated by S.L. Campbell.
Picador, 264 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 330 28329 4
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The Anatomy Lesson 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 291 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 224 02960 6
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... is indeed a hubristic side of national self-assertion, and Hugh Thomas is too good a historian to exclude that particular thread from the multicoloured skein of English achievement. Sunrising, by DavidCook, is also a first historical novel, though its author has received justifiable praise for earlier writings like the dramatically successful Walter. You could say that it was written from a very ...
18 September 1986
The Madhouse 
by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Michael Kirkwood.
Gollancz, 411 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 9780575037304
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Judith 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 298 pp., £11.95, August 1986, 0 436 28853 2
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Missing Persons 
by David Cook.
Alison Press/Secker, 184 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 436 10675 2
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Only by Mistake 
by P.J. Kavanagh.
Calder, 158 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 7145 4084 6
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... with other characters coyly acting like initiates of the mysteries. Is it possible, one wonders, to present grace without its looking like self-satisfaction. An answer is suggested, as it happens, in DavidCook’s marvellous Missing Persons. We are quite unaware, as this humorously sordid saga of bread and marge, tinned beans, false teeth, betting shops, adverts, punks, child prostitutes and novelty ...

Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David

9 December 1999
Elizabeth DavidA Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth DavidThe Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... When Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food appeared in 1950, many of the ingredients it called for were unobtainable. But even after meat came off the ration, few people can have had much practical need for a ...
24 April 1997
... Answer me this: yes or no’ – and then, triumphantly, ‘We’re running out of time.’ All in all, I get the feeling that TV overrates its audience’s blood-lust, or squirmlust. Take David Dimbleby’s grilling of Tony Blair on Panorama. Most of the interview was spent raking over Blair’s Old Labour past. At first this line seemed fair enough. Blair, after all, had on that very day ...

Aloha, aloha

Ian Hacking

7 September 1995
What ‘Natives’ Think: About Captain Cook, For Example 
by Marshall Sahlins.
Chicago, 316 pp., £19.95, July 1995, 0 226 73368 8
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... Think is entirely focused on the question of whether the Hawaiians, on their first prolonged encounter with Europeans, not only regarded the white men as superior beings, but also took Captain Cook to be their god Lono, a very important one in their world, which was tilled with gods. Or, is that story a European myth in itself, subsequently foisted on Hawaiian self-memory by British and other ...

A Serious Table

Christopher Driver

2 September 1982
Simple French Food 
by Richard Olney.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 339 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 906908 22 1
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Living off nature 
by Judy Urquhart.
Penguin, 396 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 14 005107 4
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The Food and Cooking of Russia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Allen Lane, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7139 1468 8
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Food, Wine and Friends 
by Robert Carrier.
Sphere, 197 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7221 2295 0
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The Colour Book of Fast Food 
edited by Alison Kerr.
Octopus, 77 pp., £1.99, June 1981, 0 7064 1510 8
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... better caught than in Kipling’s boys’ story ‘His Gift’, where the useless youth whose middle name is Glasse discovers his métier by the camp fire and is assured by his mentor that ‘a good cook, even on Board of Trade allowance, has brought many a ship to port that ‘ud otherwise ’ave mut’nied on the’igh seas.’ For a hundred and fifty years, ever since the best jobs in London ...

At the Courtauld

John-Paul Stonard: Chaïm Soutine

30 November 2017
... to give it volume and relate it to the background (a red curtain that someone once recalled Soutine obtaining from the butcher’s shop in Céret, perhaps explaining the title). ‘Pastry Cook of Cagnes’ (c.1922) The attraction of uniforms to Soutine seems to have been largely the opportunity they offered for painting uniform areas of colour, enlivened by tiny touches of chromatic ...

When Men Started Doing It

Steven Shapin: At the Grill Station

17 August 2006
Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker and Apprentice to a Butcher in Tuscany 
by Bill Buford.
Cape, 318 pp., £17.99, July 2006, 9780224071840
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... What’s all this fuss about cooks and chefs? The how-to-cook sections of bookshops are as big as the how-to-be-successful-in-life sections; it’s no longer clear where one ends and the other begins. Many of the books sell themselves not so much as sources of ...
24 January 1985
The Official Foodie Handbook 
by Ann Barr and Paul Levy.
Ebury, 144 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 85223 348 5
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine 
by Elizabeth David.
Hale, 318 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7090 2047 3
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Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook 
by Alice Waters, foreword by Jane Grigson .
Chatto, 340 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2820 8
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... of the gaunt peasants who have trudged miles across drought-devastated terrain to score their scant half-crust. (‘That bread alone was worth the journey,’ they probably remark, just as Elizabeth David says of a trip to an out-of-the-way eatery in France.) Art has a morality of its own, and the aesthetics of cooking and eating aspire, in ‘foodism’, towards the heights of food-for-food’s sake ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Postscript

19 February 2004
... as convincing as Jonathan Aitken’s dedication to it. Almost the only heartening note was the outright condemnation of the BBC’s apology (and its abjectness) by its most distinguished broadcaster, David Attenborough. With a constituency that far outnumbers that of the Labour Party and a voice that is more respected and indeed loved than any politician’s can hope to be, if David Attenborough is on ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery

3 November 2016
... a restaurant or at home, is the snob’s obstacle race. For all but the poorest there is now so much choice that what we put on our tables can be taken as a personal statement and since most people cook for themselves, the host’s status hangs on the execution as well as the menu. An appearance of effortless sophistication is the middle-class ideal. Elizabeth David not only brightened postwar ...

Made for TV

Jenny Diski

14 December 1995
Fight & Kick & Bite: The Life and Work of Dennis Potter 
by W. Stephen Gilbert.
Hodder, 382 pp., £18.99, November 1995, 0 340 64047 2
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Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen 
by John Cook.
Manchester, 368 pp., £45, October 1995, 0 7190 4601 7
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... the writer, the writing and the world ... simply by taking them for granted’ may be waiting for the author to provide something more than a lesson in how to suck eggs. Stephen Gilbert and John Cook (along with just about everyone else) would agree that Potter reached his reflexive nadir with Blackeyes, in which the story of the eponymous model based on the central character, Jessica, is related ...

Wolfing it

Angela Carter

23 July 1987
Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia 
by Patience Gray.
Prospect, 374 pp., £17.50, November 1986, 0 907325 30 0
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A Table in Provence: Classic Recipes from the South of France 
collected and illustrated by Leslie Forbes.
Webb and Bower/Joseph, 160 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 86350 130 3
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The Joyce of Cooking: Food and Drink from James Joyce’s Dublin 
by Alison Armstrong, foreword by Anthony Burgess.
Station Hill Press, 252 pp., $18.95, December 1986, 0 930794 85 0
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... positive of the old saw, ‘Kissin’ don’t last, cookin’ do.’ And now it is a historic object, a prototype of the late 20th-century British cookery book, a book to browse in as much as to cook from, its prose as elegant as its plentiful line-drawings. And, oh, that easy, graceful cosmopolitanism! ‘For anyone who has eaten a well-prepared Gulyas in one of the little restaurants on the ...
25 May 1995
... Nor did he resent that Dudley had gone on to success in Hollywood and he hadn’t. The only regret he regularly voiced was that at the house we rented in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1963 he had saved David Frost from drowning. In later years I saw him quite seldom, though if he’d seen something you’d done on television he’d generally telephone, ostensibly to congratulate you but actually to ...

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