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If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions, 21 April 2016

Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics 
by Beatriz Preciado.
Zone, 303 pp., £20.95, October 2014, 978 1 935408 48 2
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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny 
by Holly Madison.
Dey Street, 334 pp., £16.99, July 2015, 978 0 06 237210 9
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... He bought a plot of land in a well-to-do neighbourhood of Chicago and invited the architect Donald Jaye to design him the ultimate bachelor pad. The scheme was denied planning permission, but the drawings were published in the May 1962 issue of the magazine. The ‘almost cartoonishly modern’ three-storey building, as Preciado describes it, was to ...

All together

Humphrey Carpenter, 7 December 1989

The Safest Place in the World: A Personal History of British Rhythm and Blues 
by Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Quartet, 178 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7043 2696 5
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Mama said there’d be days like these: My Life in the Jazz World 
by Val Wilmer.
Women’s Press, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5040 8
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Lenya: A Life 
by Donald Spoto.
Viking, 371 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 670 81211 0
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... on this subject. He charts the decline of fellow saxophonist and one-time band-leader Graham Bond from ‘one of the twenty-third best refrigerator salesmen in the United Kingdom’ to a mutilated body beneath a tube train at Finsbury Park. Even more chilling is the story of outstanding drummer Phil Seamen, who knew quite rationally where the use of ...

War Zone

Sherry Turkle, 23 November 1989

Winnicott 
by Adam Phillips.
Fontana, 180 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 9780006860945
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... All his life Donald Winnicott took great pains to present himself as an orthodox Freudian. Yet few ‘Freudians’ have been more radical in their departures from orthodoxy. Winnicott’s central ideas about mothers and infants, about nurture and cure, about the authenticity of self, are evocative and powerful, but they are nonetheless heresy ...

Meltdown

Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... Writing a BBC Third Programme review of Donald Hall’s Penguin Contemporary American Poetry exactly a month before she killed herself early in 1963, Sylvia Plath praised ‘the inwardness of these images ... the uncanny faculty of melting through the leaves of the wallpaper, through the dark looking-glass, into a world which one can only call surrealist and irrational ...

Nayled to the wow

Tom Shippey, 7 January 1993

The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer 
by Derek Pearsall.
Blackwell, 365 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 1 55786 205 2
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A Wyf ther was: Essays in Honour of Paule Mertens-Fonck 
edited by Juliette Dor.
University of Liège, 300 pp., June 1992, 2 87233 004 6
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Hochon’s Arrow: The Social Imagination of 14th-Century Texts 
by Paul Strohm.
Princeton, 205 pp., £27.50, November 1992, 0 691 06880 1
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... domini regis. What did they pay Chaucer for? Why was he so useful? Is there any clue to his James Bond activities in his poetry? At any rate it is a pleasure to have a literary subject who appears to have been taken seriously in his own lifetime, to have had a role in the great world. No wonder, then, that Chaucer’s biographers have been so ready to pick ...

Be grateful for drizzle

Donald MacKenzie: High-Frequency Trading, 11 September 2014

... I’m told that a similar pattern generally holds for US Treasury bonds, with the prices of the bond futures traded in Aurora leading changes in the prices of the underlying bonds (although sometimes it’s the other way around). Foreign exchange is different. Although Aurora is the world’s main site of currency futures trading, the dominant foreign ...

All Those Arrows

Donald MacKenzie: A Major Cause of the Financial Crisis, 25 June 2009

Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe 
by Gillian Tett.
Little, Brown, 338 pp., £18.99, April 2009, 978 1 4087 0164 5
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... with Bistro: they kept the super-senior tranches, sometimes insuring them via AIG or specialist bond insurers. (Adelson and Jacob point out the irony: risks that mortgage experts in the insurers would have charged heavily for or perhaps even declined were insured in packaged form in huge amounts – and quite cheaply – by different departments of the same ...

The Will and the Body

David Pears, 17 December 1981

The Will: A Dual Aspect Theory 
by Brian O’Shaughnessy.
Cambridge, 250 pp., £25, November 1980, 0 521 22680 5
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... to a concept of action with an unusually wide scope – wider, for example, than the scope of Donald Davidson’s concept, which is the concept of intentional action. Davidson’s idea is that, if we take the class of physical actions, subtract from it all actions that have purely external causes and are, therefore, passive, and then subtract reflexes and ...

Charmed Quarantine

James Wood, 21 March 1996

Soul Says: On Recent Poetry 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 266 pp., £15.95, June 1995, 0 674 82146 7
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The Breaking of Style: Hopkins, Heaney, Graham 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 100 pp., £18.95, January 1996, 0 674 08121 8
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The Given and the Made: Strategies of Poetic Redefinition 
by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 137 pp., £7.99, April 1995, 0 571 17078 1
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... of lyric poetry even when some of them, as in the case of Charles Simic’s jagged narratives or Donald Davie’s complaints, refuse the lyric. In her Introduction to Soul Says, she celebrates the lyric as a kind of charmed quarantine. It is a place where ‘the details associated with a socially specified self’ are stripped away. The ‘all-purpose ...

Boutique Faith

Jeremy Waldron: Against Free Speech, 20 July 2006

Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and the Liberal Tradition 
by John Durham Peters.
Chicago, 309 pp., £18.50, April 2005, 0 226 66274 8
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... pamphlets promoting the hatred of any group in the community, and requiring a $350,000 indemnity bond to be posted in advance of any march. The ACLU challenged these measures on behalf of the Nazis, and the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit declared the ordinances unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. (In the event, the Skokie march did not take ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves, 6 June 2013

The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... US, Europe and South America with a medley of scenes from Shakespeare. ‘His voice was quiet,’ Donald Spoto writes in his new study of the Redgrave family, but still expressive, and his gait often unsteady, but audiences seemed to provide him with a shot of adrenalin, and spectators were invariably impressed by the presence of Sir Michael Redgrave, still ...

Monsieur Mangetout

Walter Nash, 7 December 1989

The Guinness Book of Records 1990 
edited by Donald McFarlan.
Guinness, 320 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 0 85112 341 4
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The Chatto Book of Cabbages and Kings: Lists in Literature 
edited by Francis Spufford.
Chatto, 313 pp., £13.95, November 1989, 0 7011 3487 9
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... scribal energies have gone into the listing – on stone, on papyrus, on vellum, on Basildon Bond, on A4, on disks, on your Handipad Kwikstik Tear-offs-of historical and institutional and personal particulars: an unresting recital of inventories, requisitions, genealogies, enrolments, specifications, agenda, memoranda, desiderata, with the occasional ...

Locked and Barred

Robert Crawford: Elizabeth Jennings, 24 July 2003

New Collected Poems 
by Elizabeth Jennings.
Carcanet, 386 pp., £9.95, February 2002, 1 85754 559 1
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... chat shows and Sunday papers. Her canny male poet counterparts, such as Larkin, or Amis, or Donald Davie, had gone on to enjoy lucrative careers – making money out of academic jobs or film deals as well as writing poetry. They were celebrities of a kind. Sylvia Plath became a celebrity, and has remained one. Elizabeth Jennings, like her ...

Bill and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

Christopher Hitchens, 20 February 1997

Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties 
by Dick Morris.
Random House, 382 pp., $25.95, January 1997, 9780679457473
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... how this early deprivation affected my personality thereafter. I learned that much of my need to bond closely with people came from that experience. Whereas Clinton, as we now have been told ad nauseam in his own voice, was a fatso in big jeans and a lonesome mainliner of Big Macs at least until he realised that power could also mean sex. The compromise ...

A Life of Its Own

Jonathan Coe, 24 February 1994

The Kenneth Williams Diaries 
edited by Russell Davies.
HarperCollins, 827 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 00 255023 7
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... but what one vainly searches for in Williams’s account is any recognition of the covert bond which unites them, at least in retrospect, as key figures in British post-war comedy. Both were gay; both were in the closet; and both, therefore, were fully tapped into that vein of sexual subterfuge and masquerade which has always been central to the ...

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