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Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... me. The national grid has left me out. For power I catch wind. In my garden clear water rises. Grace Nichols calls her new book Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman. Or rather, she calls it Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman, and Other Poems – which is odd, since there isn’t a poem in the collection called ‘Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy ...

Games-Playing

Patrick Parrinder, 7 August 1986

The Golden Gate 
by Vikram Seth.
Faber, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13967 1
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The Haunted House 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 139 pp., £8.95, June 1986, 0 330 29175 0
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Whole of a Morning Sky 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 156 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 86068 774 0
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The Piano Tuner 
by Peter Meinke.
Georgia, 156 pp., $13.95, June 1986, 0 8203 0844 7
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Tap City 
by Ron Abell.
Secker, 273 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 436 00025 3
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... of smashed lives, rubble, debris, unopened parachutes and emptied and discarded duty-free bottles. Grace Nichols’s Whole of a Morning Sky is a very much more straightforward portrayal of a disoriented childhood. The setting is the former colony of British Guiana during the early 1960s, during the run-up to independence. The forces of disintegration ...

Fusion Fiction

Clare Bucknell: ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, 24 October 2019

Girl, Woman, Other 
by Bernardine Evaristo.
Hamish Hamilton, 452 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 0 241 36490 1
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... Geneva, Cape Town, Ibadan, Lagos and of course, London/he would do it, yes, he would do it/by the grace of God.’ His dreams disintegrate in the space between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, as Evaristo’s repetition of the same phrase across the chapter break shows the limits of its power: he would do it, yes, he would do it by the ...

Cardigan Arrest

Robert Potts: Poetry in Punglish, 21 June 2007

Look We Have Coming to Dover! 
by Daljit Nagra.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 571 23122 5
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... with explicitly by other writers: Douglas Dunn, Tony Harrison, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Agard, Grace Nichols and Tom Leonard, to name a few. For some, ‘literary art’ is a territory to be attained (Harrison’s ‘we’ll occupy/ your lousy leasehold, poetry’), in others a rule-book to be torn up (Agard’s ‘mugging de Queen’s English’), in ...

Uncertainties of the Poet

Nicolas Tredell, 25 June 1992

Kid 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 571 16607 5
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Feast Days 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 52 pp., £6, April 1992, 0 436 20103 8
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An African Elegy 
by Ben Okri.
Cape, 84 pp., £4.99, March 1992, 9780224030069
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Memorabilia 
by Colin Falck.
Taxus, 77 pp., £5.95, March 1992, 1 873012 23 3
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Serious Concerns 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 87 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571166589
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... the poetry of Walcott or, closer to home, James Berry (Okri might also learn a thing or two from Grace Nichols). It may be that Okri wishes, as a poet and novelist, to define himself against these older generations, but he is not yet a strong enough poet to spurn their lessons. Colin Falck’s Memorabilia ranges over ...

Groupie

Robert Morley, 21 June 1984

Personal Mark 
by Alec McCowen.
Hamish Hamilton, 236 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 9780241112632
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Feeling you’re behind: An Autobiography 
by Peter Nichols.
Weidenfeld, 242 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 297 78392 0
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... Church. He was very good as Father Brown.’ The other Alec (McCowen) has arrived at his state of grace after a year or two reading the Gospel of St Mark to hugely appreciative audiences in theatres rather than churches. In Personal Mark he writes about the life of Jesus, as seen through his own and St Mark’s eyes. He thinks that St Mark’s primary source ...

She Doesn’t Protest

Colin Burrow: The Untranslatable Decameron, 12 March 2009

Decameron 
by Giovanni Boccaccio, translated by J.G. Nichols.
Oneworld, 660 pp., £12.99, May 2008, 978 1 84749 057 5
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... identified with God, whose short-term impositions of suffering are offset by his amazing ultimate grace. Later readers generally responded to the tale not by allegorising away its unstated motives and emotions but by elaborating them. Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, and indeed all the explorations of the inner lives of suffering low-born heroines which were the ...

At Miss Whitehead’s

Edward Said, 7 July 1994

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... lots of important and interesting people: Penelope Gilliatt, Lillian Hellman, Isaiah Berlin, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Harry Levin, W.H. Auden, Malraux, James Baldwin, Stravinsky, Robert Lowell etc. None of these people, however, furnishes Wilson with anything like a satisfying number of thoughtful passages in the journals. This is partly a result of ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Call Yourself George, 21 September 2017

... In​ 2015, the novelist Catherine Nichols sent the opening pages of the book she was working on to fifty literary agents. She got so little response she decided to shift gender and try as ‘George’ instead. The difference amazed her. ‘A third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25 ...

Well, was he?

A.N. Wilson, 20 June 1996

Bernard Shaw: The Ascent of the Superman 
by Sally Peters.
Yale, 328 pp., £18.95, April 1996, 0 300 06097 1
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... because it was so rare – was prepared to stick up for Wilde at the time of Oscar’s fall from grace. As a youngish and middle-aged man, he devoted hours of his time to the largely unrewarding work of a councillor in the St Pancras Ward of London. Thanks to Shaw, the first ladies’ lavatory in England was constructed at the top of Parkway in Camden ...

A Shark Swims through It

Lidija Haas: A Talent for Nonchalance, 8 March 2018

A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays and Poetry 
edited by Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley.
Farrar, Straus, 371 pp., $27, October 2017, 978 0 374 16582 6
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... of the few accounts of women’s lives in which that notion feels utterly foreign is the work of Grace Paley, where the typewriter sits on the kitchen table and single mothers do their political organising at the playground. You don’t have a story, Paley warned her writing students, if you’ve left out ‘money and blood’, i.e. how your people make ...

Oh, Lionel!

Christopher Hitchens, 3 December 1992

P.G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth 
by Barry Phelps.
Constable, 344 pp., £16.95, October 1992, 9780094716209
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... of Wilde.’ Phelps touches on this recoil himself, recording Wodehouse’s distaste for Beverly Nichols as an interviewer and quoting a letter from Wodehouse to Bill Townend, saying: ‘Can you imagine giving lunch to celebrate the publication of a book? With the other authors, mostly fairies, twittering all over the place, screaming ...

Only Incognito

Gaby Wood, 6 July 1995

Katharine Hepburn 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 549 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81319 6
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... Of all the Hollywood beauties of her time, only Katharine Hepburn had the grace to be irritating. She was beautiful, but not always, her looks could change from shot to shot. She was oddly elegant, sometimes bouncy, sometimes brittle. She was mocking, brash, hoity-toity. What she never was, in her films, was silent ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... written forty or fifty books himself – is out to treat his subject with more tact. Yes, Beverley Nichols called Maugham ‘the most sexually voracious man I’ve ever known’, and, yes, there are one or two anecdotes about his adventures in this line. On the whole, though, Meyers wants to emphasise his industry, generosity and hardihood: ‘Somerset Maugham ...

Scarisbrick’s Bomb

Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984

Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... is not very many – certainly not by that date. Instead, there were many more people like John Nichols of Boddington in Northamptonshire, who, when he died in 1535, ‘left 2s. to the Rood light, to Our Lady’s and St John’s lights, 2s. to other “torches” and 2s. to the bells in his parish church’. He also left fourpence apiece to all four orders ...

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