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Tacky Dress

Dale Peck

22 February 1996
Like People in History: A Gay American Epic 
by Felice Picano.
Viking, 512 pp., $23.95, July 1995, 0 670 86047 6
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How Long Has This Been Going On? 
by Ethan Mordden.
Villard, 590 pp., $25, April 1995, 0 679 41529 7
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The Facts of Life 
by Patrick Gale.
Flamingo, 511 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 602 24522 2
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Flesh and Blood 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 9780241135150
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... with Mark Merlis’s study of McCarthyism in academia, American Studies; last year saw the publication of four epics: Michael Cunningham’s, Flesh and Blood, Patrick Gale’s The Facts of Life, EthanMordden’s How Long Has This Been Going On? And Felice Picano’s Like People in History. These last four reveal the strengths and weaknesses in this burgeoning subgenre. The cover line for Felice ...

The Fame Game

Alan Brien

6 September 1984
Hype 
by Steven Aronson.
Hutchinson, 198 pp., £5.95, May 1984, 0 09 156251 1
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Automatic Vaudeville 
by John Lahr.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 434 40188 9
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Broadway Babies: The People who made the American Musical 
by Ethan Mordden.
Oxford, 244 pp., £19, August 1984, 0 19 503345 0
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... of the points in Aronson’s Hype. But now I want to know, not why so many people want to be famous, but why so few realise that fame is perhaps the worst wish the monkey’s paw could grant anyone. EthanMordden’s Broadway Babies has a title and subtitle (‘The People who made the American Musical’) which over here would suggest that it is going to be what publishers call ‘popular’ and ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford

12 May 1994
The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... personal participation in the conflict: ‘Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we’ve all been there.’ The extent of the war’s impact on Wyatt’s other chosen artists, particularly Sue Miller, EthanMordden and Ann Beattie, is much harder to determine. Out of the Sixties suffers from the lack of any clear-cut thesis capable of binding such disparate figures together, beyond some pretty routine claims ...

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