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Snapshotism

Mary Ann Caws: Picabia's Dada, 21 February 2008

I Am a Beautiful Monster 
by Francis Picabia, translated by Marc Lowenthal.
MIT, 478 pp., £22.95, October 2007, 978 0 262 16243 2
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The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris 
by George Baker.
MIT, 476 pp., £24.95, October 2007, 978 0 262 02618 5
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... and drawings, I Am a Beautiful Monster, is wrapped in a brown-bag cover of monsterdom, while George Baker’s book about Picabia, The Artwork Caught by the Tail, is presented in a costume of gleaming gold: so we have the modest-appearing original, with its provocative title, and the shiny interpretation of that writing and drawing. In Marc ...

Rubbing Up

Michael Church, 7 June 1984

Growing Up 
by Russell Baker.
Sidgwick, 278 pp., £9.95, February 1984, 0 283 99056 2
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Scouse Mouse, or I never got over it: An Autobiography 
by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 208 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 297 78277 0
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The Haunted Mind 
by Hallam Tennyson.
Deutsch, 238 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 233 97618 3
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... both made into vehicles for their mothers’ repressed artistic ambitions: the early histories of George Melly and Russell Baker run strikingly in parallel. Their books reveal an even more striking coincidence of form. Melly chooses, in his closing paragraph, to play affectionately along with his mother’s happy delusion ...

How to get on in the new Iraq

Carol Brightman: James Baker’s drop-the-debt tour, 4 March 2004

... There are two ways to look at the installation of James Baker, his father’s former secretary of state, in George W. Bush’s White House. Either the president has finally found a temporary assignment attractive enough to persuade his old retainer to come and rescue him from his Middle East hot seat ...

Dual Loyalty

Victor Mallet, 5 December 1991

The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 256 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 571 16619 9
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Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship 
by Andrew Cockburn and Leslie Cockburn.
Bodley Head, 423 pp., £17.99, January 1991, 0 370 31405 0
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... therefore come to be seen as a watershed. With the Cold War over and the Gulf War won, President George Bush and James Baker, his Secretary of State, have adopted an attitude which the Israelis find so alarmingly even-handed that they have begun to suspect another sort of conspiracy, this time concocted by pro-Arab Texas ...

George Ball on the Middle East

George Ball, 4 April 1991

... between a cartoon figure named Saddam and another named Bush. At the same time Secretary of State Baker, with his instinctive concern for domestic political approval, publicly stated that the purpose of American intervention was simply ‘jobs’. Mindful of the need to persuade the voters to support the huge troop deployments he apparently already had in ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... that led Ginsberg to India in the first place. He was not alone. Nor is the story Deborah Baker tells in A Blue Hand – a story about the encounter between optimistic, postcolonial Bengalis and disillusioned American Beats – about Ginsberg alone. It is a dense little slice of bicultural history, collated from biographies, journals, interviews and ...

Porndecahedron

Christopher Tayler: Nicholson Baker, 3 November 2011

House of Holes 
by Nicholson Baker.
Simon and Schuster, 262 pp., £14.99, August 2011, 978 0 85720 659 6
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... Sometimes,’ a woman says during phone sex in Vox, Nicholson Baker’s first foray into smut, ‘I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself into it and I’d be turned into a mist and I would rematerialise in the room of the person I’m talking to.’ That’s more or less how people get to the House of Holes – a sexual spa resort, offering expensive bespoke treatments, located in a parallel dimension ...

Dad & Jr

Christian Lorentzen: Bushes Jr & Sr, 4 December 2014

... and ten months. I confess to a bit of nostalgia for the nihilism that came with being governed by George W. Bush. For all the continuities, Obama arouses more earnest responses: apologetics, disappointment, head-shaking, Occupy, Edward Snowden. Bush’s arrogance has turned out to be that of a man destined to spend his golden years painting portraits of ...

The Real Johnny Hall

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 October 1985

Our Three Selves: A Life of Radclyffe Hall 
by Michael Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £13.95, June 1985, 0 241 11539 6
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... doomed. Whatever else the novel does, it doesn’t show the lesbian life as recommendable. Michael Baker has taken on the task of relating The Well to John’s own life. ‘It is arguable,’ he writes, ‘that had John drawn more on her own personal knowledge, a better novel would have resulted.’ But she would have had, of course, to romanticise herself ...

Ariel Diary

Stephen Sackur: In Ariel, 27 June 1991

... are American Patriot missiles sent up to intercept the incoming Scud. ‘This picture I sent to George Bush,’ says Mayor Nachman, standing beside the photograph like a television weatherman next to his chart. ‘You know why I wanted him to see it?’ He smiles and looks back at the wall. ‘You see those lights in the distance? That’s Tel Aviv. You see ...

The Great US Election Disaster

Hal Foster, 30 November 2000

... Who would have thought it? George W. Bush as President. I almost forgot what nauseated disbelief was like: I had not felt it so intensely since Reagan won in 1980. You look around, dazed and confused, and wonder: how did this happen? What is this country that elected this man as its President? (That is, if it did elect him: we still don’t know what happened in Florida, and we may never really know ...

Star Warrior

John Sutherland, 6 October 1983

Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas 
by Dale Pollock.
Elm Tree, 304 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 241 11034 3
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Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided 
by Leslie Fiedler.
Oxford, 236 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 503086 9
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... George Lucas is the most money-successful film-maker there has ever been. Of the eight films he has directed or produced (he eludes the conventional Hollywood division of labour), Star Wars and The empire strikes back have sold getting on for $900m worth of tickets. C-3PO and R2-D2 are as well known as Pope John Paul or Mickey Mouse ...

Diary

Patrick Wright: The Cult of Tyneham, 24 November 1988

... dying at Trafalgar on the cover and set off in search of a place where I might try again. Mr Baker’s anthology was on the best-seller list by the summer, when I took it down to Dorset and found the place where it would really come to life. Driving up from West Lulworth, I left behind the yellow fields of EEC oil seed rape and travelled up onto the ...

I want to howl

John Lahr: Eugene O’Neill, 5 February 2015

Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts 
by Robert Dowling.
Yale, 569 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17033 7
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... life took the shape of playwright. ‘I want to be an artist or nothing,’ he wrote in 1914 to George Pierce Baker, applying to Baker’s famous Harvard playwriting course (tuition was paid for by the Bank of Dad). James O’Neill (c. 1880). The grandiosity of O’Neill’s plan ...

C (for Crisis)

Eric Hobsbawm: The 1930s, 6 August 2009

The Morbid Age: Britain between the Wars 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 522 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9563 3
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... Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Basil Liddell Hart, Bronislaw Malinowski, Gilbert Murray, Philip Noel-Baker, George Orwell, Lord Arthur Ponsonby, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Toynbee, the Webbs, H.G. Wells or Leonard and Virginia Woolf? Unless clearly backed by an important ...

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