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He was the man

Robert Crawford: Ezra Pound

29 June 2016
Ezra Pound: Poet: A Portrait of the Man and his Work: Vol. III: The Tragic Years, 1939-72 
by A. David Moody.
Oxford, 654 pp., £30, September 2015, 978 0 19 870436 2
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... a Jenkintown contemporary of Pound’s who maintained that such prejudice was ‘always round-about’. Early in the first part of his three-volume, 1500-page Portrait of the Man and His Work, A. DavidMoody, in a section of a chapter also entitled ‘Suburban Prejudice’, cites the same story, but points out that in the summers of 1902 and 1903 Homer Pound and his wife let their house to ‘Mr W ...

I want to boom

Mark Ford: Pound Writes Home

24 May 2012
Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895-1929 
edited by Mary de Rachewiltz, David Moody and Joanna Moody.
Oxford, 737 pp., £39, January 2011, 978 0 19 958439 0
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... smoothely. that is about all there is to be reported. Love to you and Dad EP The book’s editors, Mary de Rachewiltz (Pound’s daughter by the American violinist Olga Rudge), and Joanna and DavidMoody (who is at work on a multi-volume biography of Pound) have chosen to include every message from the poet to his parents in its entirety, however mundane. I suppose one might pause to note from ...

Hoogah-Boogah

James Wolcott: Rick Moody

19 September 2002
The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... when a writer chooses the wrong subject,’ Wilfrid Sheed once observed. ‘First the writer suffers, then the reader, and finally the publisher, all together in a tiny whirlpool of pain.’ Rick Moody’s The Black Veil is the latest voyage to the bottom of the sink, a journey of self-discovery jinxed by dense fog and treacherous syntax. Moody is best known for his novels, Garden State (which is ...

Following the Fall-Out

Alexander Star: Rick Moody

19 March 1998
Purple America 
by Rick Moody.
Flamingo, 298 pp., £16.99, March 1998, 0 00 225687 8
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... Like much of Rick Moody’s previous work, Purple America charts the lives of the ‘slovenly, affluent’ young. It’s not an especially good life. Moody’s characters are distinctly unhappy, unformed, unable to proceed with their lives in anything like a reasonable way. Instead, they gradually succumb to a set of local problems. When the logic of ...

What the Public Most Wants to See

Christopher Tayler: Rick Moody

23 February 2006
The Diviners 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 567 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 571 22946 8
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... When he published The Ice Storm in 1994, Rick Moody seemed to be looking for a workable compromise between suburban realism and what Gore Vidal once called the ‘Research and Development’ arm of American fiction – the tradition of Thomas Pynchon ...

My First Job

David​ Lodge

4 September 1980
... you don’t turn in this sort of sum every Friday, from now on, I’ll want to know the reason why – you understand?’ The next day, I overheard my parents talking in the kitchen. ‘He seems very moody,’ said my mother, ‘Do you think he’s fallen in love?’ My father snorted derisively. ‘In love? He’s probably just constipated.’ ‘He seemed very quiet when he came home from work ...

Great Scott Debunked

Chauncey Loomis

6 December 1979
Scott and Amundsen 
by Roland Huntford.
Hodder, 665 pp., £13.95
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... Debunking explorers seems to have become a popular pastime. In recent years, Oliver Ransford has diagnosed David Livingstone as a manic depressive, Dennis Rawlins has discredited Robert Peary’s claim to the North Pole, and William McKinlay has proved that Vihjalmur Stefansson was a selfish cad. Debunking ...

Short Cuts

Paul Myerscough: The Pret Buzz

3 January 2013
... Job candidates must show that they have a natural flair for the ‘Pret Behaviours’ (these are listed on the website too). Among the 17 things they ‘Don’t Want to See’ is that someone is ‘moody or bad-tempered’, ‘annoys people’, ‘overcomplicates ideas’ or ‘is just here for the money’. The sorts of thing they ‘Do Want to See’ are that you can ‘work at pace’, ‘create a ...

Half-Wrecked

Mary Beard: What’s left of John Soane

17 February 2000
John Soane: An Accidental Romantic 
by Gillian Darley.
Yale, 358 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 300 08165 0
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John Soane, Architect: Master of Space and Light 
by Margaret Richardson and Mary-Anne Stevens.
Royal Academy, 302 pp., £45, September 1999, 0 300 08195 2
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Sir John Soane and the Country Estate 
by Ptolemy Dean.
Ashgate, 204 pp., £37.50, October 1999, 1 84014 293 6
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... builder, and in defining an architect’s professional duties to his client. He has even been hailed as the major channel into this country for the theories of the European Enlightenment – or so David Watkin’s generous reading of Soane’s muddled (and, at the time, scarcely audible) Royal Academy lectures would suggest. These rival claims to Soane’s legacy are neatly captured, and subverted ...

A good God is hard to find

James Francken: Jenny Diski

4 January 2001
Only Human: A Divine Comedy 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 215 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 1 86049 839 6
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... patronising, chippy, complacent and withdrawn – God is a man. There are difficulties with comic novels that draw on the Bible. Joseph Heller’s God Knows sets itself up as the memoir of the ageing David – ‘warrior king, the sweet psalmist of Israel’ – and plays off its contemporary idiom against an ancient story for cheap laughs. David reminisces without ever losing a sense of his audience ...

A life, surely?

Jenny Diski: To Portobello on Angel Dust

18 February 1999
The Ossie Clark Diaries 
edited by Henrietta Rous.
Bloomsbury, 402 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7475 3901 4
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... petulant anti-semite whose main claims to fame were, in his own words, ‘to dress frilly people in colours that confuse the eye’, and appearing as a peevish young icon slouched on a chair with a moody, come-hither expression, a pure white cat on his lap and his bare feet submerged in the pile of a white rug in Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, the portrait by David Hockney that aspired to Gainsborough ...

Help-Self

Jenny Diski: Alastair Campbell’s Dodgy Novel

6 November 2008
All in the Mind 
by Alastair Campbell.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 0 09 192578 9
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... director of communications and strategy and then adviser, Campbell was involved, among much else, in presenting the massaged facts that took us to war, and dealing with the press after the death of David Kelly. He was a gleeful fixer, bully and phrase-maker for a prime minister who had streamlined the Labour Party (as in discarded anything that smacked of socialism) until it was indistinguishable ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound

6 March 1997
... young people since the Sixties’. ‘Tony Blair’s speech brought tears to my eyes,’ whimpered Noel Gallagher, from the rock-hard Oasis, after Blair’s Conference speech last year. Damon Albarn, moody art-house singer with rivals Blur, chips in: ‘I want Labour to get in. I’d like to think that Britain in the 21st century will care about better health care, and care about its education.’ A ...

I’m hip. I live in New York

Theo Tait: Leonard Michaels

3 March 2016
Sylvia 
by Leonard Michaels.
Daunt Books, 131 pp., £9.99, June 2015, 978 1 907970 55 9
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... man. He was married four times, and fell out with plenty of people, but he also inspired fierce loyalty. As Phillip Lopate remembers, He could be, as they say, ‘difficult’… He was a handsome, moody, casually erudite man who strutted (he loved Latin music, the sensual art of its dance movements) and brooded (he had a touch of the obsessive about him, and seemed to go around sniffing hostility in ...

Biscuits. Oh good!

Anna Vaux: Antonia White

27 May 1999
Antonia White 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 484 pp., £20, November 1998, 9780224036191
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... it to ‘correct’ the view of her mother given by her sister. For one thing, it was suggested she write it after she’d impressed the audience at a PEN club memorial with her description of how moody her mother was and how frightened she had been of her. And isn’t there something fishy about the title Nothing to Forgive – for a book in which she describes having to hide in the airing cupboard ...

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