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Homage to André Friedmann

Peter Campbell, 7 November 1985

Robert Capa 
by Richard Whelan.
Faber, 315 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 571 13661 3
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Robert Capa: Photographs 
edited by Cornell Capa and Richard Whelan.
Faber, 242 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 571 13660 5
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... embroider. Richard Whelan, reasonably enough, is not interested in giving Capa good and bad marks for his conduct, but begs almost all the questions about the morality of photographing sadness, sickness and death when he writes of Capa’s most famous photograph – ostensibly of a Spanish Loyalist at the moment he is hit by a bullet – that ‘to ...

Steaming like a Pie

Theo Tait: ‘Going Postal’, 4 December 2003

by J. Robert Lennon.
Granta, 483 pp., £15.99, October 2003, 1 86207 625 1
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... people would call low-hanging fruit – easy, juicy targets. Mailman’s insufferable counsellor Gary Garrity, for example: ‘Always his concern. That solicitous nod. That knowing frown.’ Or bumper stickers: ‘They shout their opinions into the void because they’re afraid someone will hear them.’ Or Maurice Renault, Nestor’s pretentious New Age ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... For the Paris Review.’ ‘People forget how good a stylist Norman is – like in that book about Gary Gilmore. He really got the nothingness of that place, the nothing.’ ‘The loneliness of Utah out there.’ ‘The West,’ she said. ‘That’s what’s always interested me and he was the one that got it.’ The next day I walked through a healthy ...

That’s America

Stephen Greenblatt, 29 September 1988

‘Ronald Reagan’, the Movie, and Other Episodes in Political Demonology 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 366 pp., £19.95, April 1987, 0 520 05937 9
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... No force at all, only a glitch in the transmission, the meaningless celluloid stutter of Gary Trudeau’s merciless caricature, Ron Headrest. The President moved smoothly from presumptive facts to stories, a realm where he has always been more at home. ‘It is our gift,’ he said, ‘to have visions, and I want to share that of a young boy who ...

The New Deal

Tom Crewe, 17 August 2017

... One​ of the things that marks out ‘post-truth’ – the word of 2016, according to Oxford Dictionaries, which defined it as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’ – as originally an American concept is the fact that in Britain the press has been pushing fake news for decades ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard, 6 February 2014

All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... must, both in order to provide a climactic finale, and because the end of the chronicles marks the end of an era when such an enterprise could plausibly prosper: based on the extraction of raw materials from an empire and run by family members with no particular aptitude for it, paternalistic and lacking entrepreneurial vision. The Cazalet men ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1995, 4 January 1996

... bought them in the market two or three flowers would scent a room). But florists (and certainly Marks and Spencer) have now bred a strain which has no scent at all except faintly that of pepper. Considering this is a flower which is not much to look at, the whole point of which is its scent, this must be considered a triumph of marketing. 24 ...

You have £2000, I have a kidney

Glen Newey: Morals and Markets, 21 June 2012

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets 
by Michael Sandel.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 471 4
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How Much Is Enough?: The Love of Money and the Case for the Good Life 
by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky.
Allen Lane, 256 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 1 84614 448 6
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... as I freely do the demeaning, that’s fine. Still, one might persist in asking what in general marks the process of corruption, and what makes it a bad thing. Perhaps when an activity gets corrupted, its internal goal – the activity’s essential point – is frustrated. So with medicine, say, the internal goal is curing people; this goal is frustrated ...

In the Tart Shop

Murray Sayle: How Sydney got its Opera House, 5 October 2000

The Masterpiece: Jørn Utzon, a Secret Life 
by Philip Drew.
Hardie Grant, 574 pp., AUS $39.95, October 1999, 1 86498 047 8
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Jørn Utzon: The Sydney Opera House 
by Françoise Fromonot, translated by Christopher Thompson.
Electa/Gingko, 236 pp., £37.45, January 1998, 3 927258 72 5
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... just like a boat!’ The younger Utzon hoped to follow his father’s profession, but poor school marks, the result of dyslexia, ruled that out and incidentally added Utzon’s name to the long list, headed by Albert Einstein, of brilliant dyslexics, as well as planting some unjustified sense of inadequacy deep in his personality. Two artist friends of his ...

A Common Assault

Alan Bennett: In Italy, 4 November 2004

... some special territory? Had there been a football match? Were we being punished for the skills of Gary Lineker? As we run, I feel a heavy blow on the top of my head, the blow struck with a short length of steel scaffolding which Rupert sees the fair-haired youth pick up from the ground. Fortunately, the scaffolding doesn’t come instantly to hand, and he has ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... such as Sigrid Nunez (Sempre Susan), Phillip Lopate (Notes on Sontag), Edmund White (City Boy), Gary Indiana (Utopia’s Debris) and others recorded first-hand: that Sontag was incapable of spending much time alone, even when writing. These were not cosy evenings in. ‘Every night’s dinner provided an opportunity for new guests, along with Susan and ...

My Heroin Christmas

Terry Castle: Art Pepper and Me, 18 December 2003

... in 1966 – middle-aged, chap-fallen, penniless and still addicted, his numerous scars and track marks supplemented with a conglomeration of scary and absurd prison tattoos. He describes these droll insigniae in a typically deadpan passage in his autobiography: One guy did one of Pan. Pan played his little horn and all the women followed him. He’d take ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... one of the roads leading out of town.’ ‘He was happy. He seemed cheerful,’ says Guardsman Gary Alderson, who was next to Wakefield in the snatch. ‘Seemed happy all the way round. I was facing rearwards, he was facing forwards.’ Two hundred metres short of the zone called Green 6 there was a loud explosion and what some of the soldiers describe as ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... Khadija Khalloufi in Flat 143 on the 17th floor. She was 52 and worked all the hours she could at Marks & Spencer on Edgware Road. She missed her family all day every day: they lived in Mohammedia in Morocco and she told friends it was sometimes difficult to stick with the life she’d made in England. ‘Khadija was the eldest child,’ her brother Karim ...

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