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Ashes

Nicholas Spice

19 December 1985
The Assault 
by Harry Mulisch, translated by Claire Nicolas White.
Collins Harvill, 204 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 00 271011 0
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All Our Yesterdays 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Angus Davidson.
Carcanet, 300 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 85635 593 3
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Family Sayings 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by D.M. Low.
Carcanet, 181 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85635 504 6
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The Little Virtues 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Dick Davis.
110 pp., £6.95, June 1985, 0 85635 553 4
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Strange Loop 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 175 pp., £8.50, June 1984, 0 224 02210 5
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The Cabalist 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 184 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 224 02326 8
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... Il Figlio dell’Uomo’, ‘The Son of Man’, an essay by Natalia Ginzburg written in 1946 for the paper Unita, begins: ‘There has been a war and people have seen so many houses reduced to rubble that they no longer feel safe in their own homes which once seemed so quiet and secure. This is something that is incurable and will never be cured no matter how many years go by.’ Thirty-six years ...

Suckville

Emily Witt: Rachel Kushner

2 August 2018
The Mars Room 
by Rachel Kushner.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910702 67 3
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... prisoners with one fewer extracurricular outlet. What Kushner has done, in The Mars Room, is novelise certain arguments of the Abolish Prisons movement, whose most famous advocate in the US is Angela Davis, the activist, former member of the Black Panther Party and author of a book called Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003). Davis has argued, with ample evidence, that in certain American demographics people ...

Scandal in Pittsburgh

David Nasaw: Andrew Mellon

19 July 2007
Mellon: An American Life 
by David Cannadine.
Allen Lane, 779 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 7139 9508 4
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... even followed his father’s example and broke off his engagement to his first love when he found out she had consumption. With his father lurking in the background, and with the help of his brother Dick, who was installed by the judge as vice-president of T. Mellon & Sons in 1887, Andrew expanded the family’s banking businesses and invested, usually wisely, in a variety of new ventures: the ...

Nature made the house

William Fiennes: Barry Topez

29 July 1999
Arctic Dreams 
by Barry Lopez.
Harvill, 464 pp., £7.99, January 1999, 1 86046 583 8
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About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory 
by Barry Lopez.
Harvill, 275 pp., £12, January 1999, 9781860465659
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... Eskimo. Lopez retells the history of Arctic exploration by the ‘Western’ world: the sixth-century journeys of the Irish abbot Saint Brendan; the later expeditions of Martin Frobisher, John Davis, Henry Hudson (who became a bay), William Baffin (who became an island) and Vitus Bering (who became a strait). He describes Robert Peary claiming the North Pole for America, and how, to keep up the ...

SH @ same time

Andrew Cockburn: Rumsfeld

31 March 2011
Known and Unknown: A Memoir 
by Donald Rumsfeld.
Sentinel, 815 pp., £25, February 2011, 978 1 59523 067 6
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... before the attacks. His memory of the period is hazy; the account here of his movements immediately after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon differs in detail from that of Aubrey Davis, the security guard who accompanied him to the site. It may be unfair to demand detailed and accurate recall of those moments when he and Davis marched along the smoke-filled Pentagon corridors on ...
16 March 2000
Where I Live Now: Stories 1993-98 
by Lucia Berlin.
Black Sparrow, 240 pp., $25, March 1999, 1 57423 091 3
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... other got my purse. Nothing was in it but loose bills, make-up. Everything else was in a pocket inside my jacket. He hit me.   ‘Let’s fuck her,’ the other one said.   ‘How? You need a dick four feet long.’   ‘Turn her around, bato.’   Just as he hit me again a door opened and an old man came running down the stairs with a knife. The boys turned and ran back outside ...

What I heard about Iraq in 2005

Eliot Weinberger: Iraq

5 January 2006
... What we’re seeing is the terrorists are in desperation.’ I heard him say: ‘By the end of the summer, the terrorists will be captured, dead or, in the least, severely disrupted.’ I heard Dick Cheney say: ‘The level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.’ I heard ...

Tinkering

Mark Greif: Walt Disney

7 June 2007
Walt Disney: The Biography 
by Neal Gabler.
Aurum, 766 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 1 84513 277 4
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The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney 
by Michael Barrier.
California, 393 pp., £18.95, April 2007, 978 0 520 24117 6
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Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson 
by Tom Sito.
Kentucky, 440 pp., £19.95, September 2006, 0 8131 2407 7
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...  . . ‘He would imitate the expressions of the dog, and look from one side to the other, and raise first one brow and then the other’ . . . ‘You’d have the feeling of the whole thing,’ Dick Huemer noted. ‘You’d know exactly what he wanted.’ Mickey Mouse’s gestures ‘were copied from Walt’s when he performed Mickey at story meetings’; until 1946 Disney also voiced him, in ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X

4 February 1999
Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... a theatre, a barber’s shop, a museum, a place for Muslim worship and a supermarket specialising in West Indian and African products. He solicited donations from US entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr and the comedian Dick Gregory. He also guilt-tripped John Lennon by claiming that ‘you have stolen the rhythms of the black people you knew in Liverpool.’ Soon Yoko Ono was presenting him with ...
16 April 1998
Joe Gould's Secret 
by Joseph Mitchell.
Cape, 200 pp., £9.99, October 1997, 0 224 05107 5
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... McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (1943), introduces such characters as Mazie, the ‘bossy, yellow-haired blonde’ who presides over the ticket cage at a Bowery cinema, and the Rev. Mr James Jefferson Davis Hall, ‘the greatest and most frightening street preacher in the city’. There is the founder of Captain Charley’s Private Museum for Intelligent People, where the exhibits include Theodore ...

Afloat with Static

Jenny Turner: Hey, Blondie!

9 December 2019
Face It 
by Debbie Harry.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, October, 978 0 00 822942 9
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... he was married with children and working as a boiler repairman. So the baby was put up for adoption, and Angela became Deborah, with parents called Cathy and Richard Harry, also known as Caggie and Dick. Caggie’s family had once owned a bank in Ridgewood, New Jersey; Dick worked as a salesman for Alkan Silk Woven Labels in Paterson. A sister, Martha, arrived six years later. ‘My little ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder

24 May 2012
... mortality and memory. ‘Nature is not a place to visit,’ the man says, ‘it is home.’ He is Gary Snyder, poet, bioregionalist, teacher. Having bought out his early partners, Allen Ginsberg and Dick Baker, he is the sole proprietor of this estate, a hundred acres of manzanita thickets, with open stretches of ponderosa pine, black oak, cedar, madrone, Douglas fir, bunchgrass – and one of the ...
15 June 2016
What Happened, Miss Simone? A Biography 
by Alan Light.
Canongate, 309 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78211 871 8
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... called ‘the muteness of slavery’. ‘In representing all of the women who had been silenced, she was the embodiment of the revolutionary democracy we had not yet learned how to imagine,’ Angela Davis observed. ‘My people need inspiration,’ Simone said. In the spectacle she made of herself as well as in her voice – ‘I want people to know who I am,’ she said – Simone became a race ...

The Basic Couple

Benjamin Kunkel: Norman Rush

23 October 2013
Subtle Bodies 
by Norman Rush.
Granta, 234 pp., £14.99, October 2013, 978 1 84708 780 5
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... Fitzgerald’s beautiful but unsuccessful Tender Is the Night, where the wilful effort to accord tragic dignity to a bad marriage between frivolous people fails to prevent the acknowledgment that Dick Diver is ‘no longer a serious man’. For all that Rush’s characters are unusually literate, his prose is almost entirely unlyrical, even antipoetic. In Mortals Ray Finch’s thoughts borrow from ...

The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman

14 December 2017
A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... younger, researchers and secretaries to experience sexual harassment, except in the form of fake jocular, know-your-place remarks of the sort made by Michael Fallon to Andrea Leadsom, or by David Davis of Diane Abbott. In the 1979 general election, which brought the Conservatives to power under Margaret Thatcher – something Harman describes as an ‘excruciating blow’ – 19 women were elected ...

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