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Just William

Doris Grumbach, 25 June 1987

Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... Willa Cather is one of those American writers whose fictional accomplishments were both applauded and judged harshly when she was alive. Now, forty years after her death, they are the subject of increasing critical interest. In her lifetime she was praised by H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Louise Bogan, but Edmund Wilson said that One of Ours,* her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was a complete failure and that My Antonia ended on the level of a Ladies Home Journal serial ...

Old Ladies

D.A.N. Jones, 20 August 1992

Dear Departed: A Memoir 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Maria Louise Ascher.
Aidan Ellis, 346 pp., £18, April 1992, 0 85628 186 7
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Anna, Soror 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Walter Kaiser.
Harvill, 256 pp., £7.99, May 1992, 0 00 271222 9
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That Mighty Sculptor, Time 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 224 pp., £18, June 1992, 9780856281594
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Coming into the End Zone: A Memoir 
by Doris Grumbach.
Norton, 256 pp., £13.95, April 1992, 0 393 03009 1
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Anything Once 
by Joan Wyndham.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 178 pp., £15.95, March 1992, 9781856191296
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Within Tuscany 
by Matthew Spender.
Viking, 366 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 670 83836 5
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... that have attended her writing of historical fiction. When her 70th birthday hit her, Doris Grumbach grimly began Coming into the End Zone. Seventy is a threatening age: three score years and ten. We may try to disregard our decades, believing our lives are divided into seven-year periods: but we are caught both ways by 70. It is, in ...

The Literature Man

Charles Nicholl, 25 June 1987

Cuts 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Hutchinson, 106 pp., £6.95, April 1987, 0 09 168280 0
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No, Not Bloomsbury 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 373 pp., £17.95, May 1987, 9780233980133
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The Last Romantics 
by Caroline Seebohm.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 297 79056 0
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The Magician’s Girl 
by Doris Grumbach.
Hamish Hamilton, 206 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12114 0
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... A much more subtle treatment of a similar theme is offered in The Magician’s Girl by Doris Grumbach. This also follows a group of women, three this time, and also uses a university – Barnard College in New York – as the place where their disparate lives are knotted together, briefly but with lasting effect. The flavour of bygone New York ...

Silence

Alan Hollinghurst, 17 September 1981

Shuttlecock 
by Graham Swift.
Allen Lane, 220 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 7139 1413 0
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The Frights 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Alison Press/Secker, 170 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 436 44085 7
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March House 
by Mary Hocking.
Chatto, 222 pp., £6.95, August 1981, 0 7011 2586 1
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The Missing Person 
by Doris Grumbach.
Hamish Hamilton, 252 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 241 10660 5
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... has a tact sensitive to its need for privacy. Questions of privacy and self are also central to Doris Grumbach’s The Missing Person – a defiantly nice achievement, in that it deals in a sophisticated, literary way with a subject ill-accommodated to such a treatment: Hollywood. Hollywood certainly spawned its own self-observing, self-absorbed ...

Irishtown

D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

Ironweed 
by William Kennedy.
Viking, 227 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 670 40176 5
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In Custody 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780434186358
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Flaubert’s Parrot 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 190 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 241 11374 1
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... don’t like us filthy bums.’ Poor Rudy replies: ‘You ain’t filthy. You got a new suit.’ Doris Grumbach, Joseph Heller and Alison Lurie have all praised this Albany novel, the two ladies admiring its ‘low comedy’ and its ‘rollicking, black wit’. Fair enough, I suppose: but I did not laugh much myself. The story is too rough and too ...

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