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Hanging out with Higgins

Michael Wood, 7 December 1989

Silent Partner 
by Jonathan Kellerman.
Macdonald, 506 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 356 17598 7
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‘Murder will out’: The Detective in Fiction 
by T.J. Binyon.
Oxford, 166 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780192192233
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Devices and Desires 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 408 pp., £11.99, October 1989, 0 571 14178 1
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Killshot 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 287 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 670 82258 2
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Trust 
by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 213 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 233 98513 1
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Polar Star 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins Harvill, 373 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 00 271269 5
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... stories he may mean, but wouldn’t that be pretty much tautological? Certainly readers of George V. Higgins and Elmore Leonard would be surprised by the claim as it stands. Binyon also accepts without questioning the distinction between detective fiction and thrillers, or what he sometimes calls adventure ...

Prodigals

John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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Ralph 
by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... like a silly-mid-on fielder to catch a glass phial of nitroglycerine thrown by the assassin. George V. Higgins is a novelist whom a large number of American critics think very well of. In this country he’s probably best-known as the author of the work on which the film The Friends of Eddie Coyle was based. His ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason, 7 September 2000

Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... The pathos, suffering and vulnerability associated with the French King were easily transferred to George III, who was endlessly depicted as a loyal husband and kind father. Such images were not without ambiguity, however, since they also portrayed the King as feminised. ‘The King came to be presented as a kind of drag queen,’ Barrell writes, ‘whose ...

Cromwell’s Coven

John Sutherland, 4 June 1987

Witchcraft 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 390 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14823 9
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Without Falling 
by Leslie Dick.
Serpent’s Tail, 153 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 1 85242 005 7
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Outlaws 
by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 360 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 233 98110 1
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... gentility and middlebrowism Without Falling is itself something of a bomb. I have the problem with George V. Higgins’s fiction that however carefully I read it, I never quite know what’s going on. Half one’s time seems to be spent going backwards rather than forwards through the pages. The problem doesn’t arise with ...

Spadework

John Brown, 18 November 1982

Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... and he certainly suffers badly by comparison with James Crumley, John D. MacDonald and George V. Higgins, the present-day masters – he deserves more serious critical attention than Layman can manage. The next section of Shadow Man returns to biography proper, and the book picks up, weaving together the strands ...

Walking among ghosts

Paul Fussell, 18 September 1980

The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... has been worn to threads and cardboard. Clearly students told off to go and read Wittgenstein and George Eliot have been spending delicious secret hours enjoying Allan Quatermain’s phlegmatic accounts of people crushed to death, impaled, dismembered and beheaded. (Anyone imagining that ‘violence’ in fiction and films is somehow modern or post-modern ...

What’s the point of HS2?

Christian Wolmar, 16 April 2014

... Tory conferences where the mood could best be described as hostile – yet David Cameron and even George Osborne appear genuinely committed to the project. They see it as a way of boosting business and of demonstrating their credentials as modernisers. They also believe it will help their electoral prospects in the North. The fate of HS2 doesn’t just lie in ...

Shaviana

Brigid Brophy, 2 December 1982

Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side 
by Arnold Silver.
Stanford, 353 pp., $25, January 1982, 0 8047 1091 0
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Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence 
edited by Mary Hyde.
Murray, 237 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7195 3947 1
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... traces, often convincingly, to Shaw’s need to wish away the intrusion into Shaw’s infancy of George John Vandaleur Lee – or, rather, the intrusion of the suspicion that Lee had been the lover of Shaw’s mother and was, perhaps, Shaw’s real father. In the teacher-pupil (or sculptor-statue) relation of Higgins to ...

Glasgow über Alles

Julian Loose, 8 July 1993

Swing Hammer Swing! 
by Jeff Torrington.
Secker, 416 pp., £8.99, August 1992, 0 436 53120 8
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Looking for the Possible Dance 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 436 23321 5
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The Lights Below 
by Carl MacDougall.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 9780436270796
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... spill their personal histories with a refreshing lack of naturalism that recalls the work of George V. Higgins; from discursive passages on local history, to the kind of bar-room monologues which typify the spoken energy of the new Glaswegian writing, to a remarkable lyricism about Glasgow and its ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 15 July 2015

... Charlie Haden, a white bassist from a family of country singers in Shenandoah, Iowa; and Billy Higgins, a drummer from Los Angeles with a flawless sense of swing – to New York to perform at the Five Spot. These were ten weeks that shook the jazz world. The Five Spot engagement is usually remembered as marking the birth of free jazz, but the ‘free’ in ...

Diary

Tim Hilton: Art Talk, 19 November 1992

... might be. Among such artists were Barry Flanagan, Richard Long, Bruce McLean, Gilbert and George and others. Many of these people disliked each other. While their individual careers developed they found that they could not teach in the same studios. By the early Seventies this wonderful department was at war with itself. Obviously a standard ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1990, 24 January 1991

... They play a passage, listen to it back, then give each other notes, and run over sections again. George Fenton, who is co-ordinating the music, also chips in, but he’s a musician. David Hunter, the director, chips in too, but he isn’t a musician, just knows what atmosphere he wants at various points in the film. In the finish, even I chip in just because ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... thought to have provoked lifelong neurosis about sex. The Companion does not record that George Meredith was instrumental in getting The Story of an African Farm published (poor old Meredith also loses his credit for helping Ouida and Marie Corelli into print). In her later career in England, the Companion portrays Schreiner’s relationships with ...

Break their teeth, O God

Colin Kidd: The Trial of Sacheverell, 20 August 2014

Faction Displayed: Reconsidering the Impeachment of Dr Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Mark Knights.
Wiley-Blackwell, 132 pp., £19.99, February 2012, 978 1 4443 6187 2
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The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Brian Cowan.
Wiley-Blackwell, 307 pp., £22.99, November 2012, 978 1 4443 3223 0
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... The birth​ of Prince George obviates the immediate need for the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 which introduced gender equality into the line of succession. Section 2 of the Act addresses, though only in part, another outmoded form of discrimination: ‘A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?, 20 February 2003

Becoming GeorgeThe Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann wrote about 46 Palmerston Road in Rathmines in Dublin, where George Yeats lived between her husband’s death in 1939 and her own death almost thirty years later. Mrs Yeats lived, Ellmann wrote, among the dead poet’s papers. ‘There in the bookcases was his working library, often heavily annotated, and in cabinets and ...

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