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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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... where Nobody comes but the postman and the farmer with winter fodder. A-road and motorway avoid me. The national grid has left me out. For power I catch wind. In my garden clear water rises. GraceNichols 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 ...

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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... Rhys, drawing us into the imagery of the heroine’s private nightmares. It is a poetic evocation of smashed lives, rubble, debris, unopened parachutes and emptied and discarded duty-free bottles. GraceNichols’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 ...

Fusion Fiction

Clare Bucknell: ‘Girl, Woman, Other’

24 October 2019
Girl, Woman, Other 
by Bernardine Evaristo.
Hamish Hamilton, 452 pp., £16.99, May, 978 0 241 36490 1
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... to England from Nigeria will be a success: ‘He would eventually own properties in New York, L.A., 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 ...
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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...  to take only some of the most prominent instances, there is the prose of Achebe and Selvon, and the poetry of Walcott or, closer to home, James Berry (Okri might also learn a thing or two from GraceNichols). 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 ...

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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...  about dialect, exclusion, preservation, authenticity and vogueishness – have been dealt with explicitly by other writers: Douglas Dunn, Tony Harrison, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Agard, GraceNichols 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 ...

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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... smile. ‘That,’ he observed, ‘is a conversion I understand we owe more to the cinema than the 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 ...

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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... wrote a Latin version of the Griselda story in which the inexplicably cruel Gualtieri is implicitly 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 ...
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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... and ex-family like Mary McCarthy), The Sixties is brimming over with accounts of visits with and from 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 ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Call Yourself George

20 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 ...

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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... If you try to care for more than one kind of thing, the op-eds imply, expect to do it badly. One 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 ...

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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... epistolatory male friendships of his life, caused him to shy away in extreme nervousness from mention 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 ...

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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... he could be immensely kind: he was generous to spongers and – a big plus on anyone’s marksheet 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 ...
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 ...

Too Young

James Davidson: Lord Alfred Douglas

21 September 2000
Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas 
by Douglas Murray.
Hodder, 374 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 340 76770 7
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... a corkscrew’. When the Duke of Richmond refuses him entrance to the private stand at Goodwood, he gets a letter from Bosie regretting that he himself does not enjoy the ‘Privilege enjoyed by your Grace of being descended from the bastard son of a French whore’. Robbie Ross, guardian of Wilde’s memory, was a favourite target. At a party in 1912, Douglas (now 42 years of age) made a noisy ...
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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... irate father. The question, of course, is how many William Maldens there were. Scarisbrick’s answer 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 ...

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