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James Wood

5 August 1993
TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... most of these poems, often arrested but never quite detained. Mills bothers to see things – like a dead fish oozing ‘its fluid genital trash’ – which is why he is worth reading at all. HarrySmart, in his second book of poems, Shoah, wants to see very large things – like the Holocaust, or the fate of contemporary Germany – and so writes a verse of regal vacancy, elevated but unstocked. His ...
9 September 1993
... scares us in fact. But it’s quite different from the long movie tradition of licensed or at least acceptable violence, the violence that the mildest of us used to hanker for. It’s not that Dirty Harry, say, had a heart; we never thought of him as our friend. But he had a mind and a history; his violent proceedings invited questions even as they offered answers we didn’t want to hear. Eastwood ...

Nobody is God

Robert Taubman

4 February 1982
Rabbit is Rich 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 467 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 233 97424 5
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Charlotte: Life or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
Allen Lane, 784 pp., £30, September 1981, 0 7139 1425 4
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Weights and Measures 
by Joseph Roth.
Peter Owen, 150 pp., £7.50, January 1982, 0 7206 0562 8
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by Rolf Schneider.
Hamish Hamilton, 235 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 241 10347 9
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... out at the turn of each decade, like a series of reports on the state of America. Rabbit is rich, the third and latest, takes place in Brewster, Pennsylvania, from June 1979 into 1980. Rabbit – as Harry Angstrom is still known to himself – runs a Toyota agency; his scene is now the country club, the golf course and the Bahamas on a wife-swapping holiday. The novel is effortlessly informing about ...


Daniel Soar: Harry​ Mathews

21 July 2005
My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 
by Harry​ Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 203 pp., £8.99, July 2005, 1 56478 392 8
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... In 1973, the American writer Harry Mathews, who was then in his mid-forties, was living in Paris. He had been divorced by his first wife, Niki de Saint Phalle; the editor Maxine Groffsky, with whom he had spent the last 12 years, had ...


Clancy Sigal: Among the Draft-Dodgers

9 October 2008
... for escaping GI deserters. We were breaking the law, under the US Uniform Code of Military Justice and Nato’s Visiting Forces Act; theoretically, in a time of war, we could be shot. I had first met Harry Pincus, the charismatic founder of our station, when we were both volunteer ‘barefoot doctors’ at R.D. Laing’s Kingsley Hall, a halfway house for psychotics in the East End. One night, when ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman

9 May 2002
... It’s hard to imagine anyone settling down to write the further adventures of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it’s never done as well as Tom Brown ...

At Tate Modern

Eleanor Birne: Performing for the Camera

20 April 2016
... just as he takes the leap – one foot still touching the ledge, arms outstretched, his whole body arched ecstatically back as he anticipates his flight. He is wearing a suit and tie, a pair of smart shoes. A cyclist on the other side of the street pedals on, unaware or uninterested. One is left to imagine what comes next: lift-off, the artist transcendent; or the beginning of the descent, the ...

Little Grey Cells

J. Robert Lennon: More Marple than Poirot

23 February 2020
Big Sky 
by Kate Atkinson.
Black Swan, 356 pp., £8.99, January, 978 0 552 77666 0
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... Vince Ives, come to Mellors for a divorce; and some golfing buddies, the haulage entrepreneur Tommy Holroyd and a needling hotelier called Andy Bragg. Crystal, Tommy’s cosmetically enhanced, street-smart wife, has a past she’d prefer to keep secret; her stepson, Harry, is a thoughtful boy fond of puns involving cheese. Two young female police detectives entertainingly called Ronnie and Reggie are ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Princess Di and Laura Palmer

22 January 2004
... of the Canadian border, 12 miles west of the state line. Laura Palmer, the high school homecoming queen, has been murdered. Agent Cooper – effortlessly dapper, crisply handsome, intimidatingly smart – is called in to investigate. He is assisted by the local sheriff, Harry S. Truman (as Cooper tells his Dictaphone, ‘shouldn’t be too hard to remember that’). It doesn’t take long for the ...

The Cattle-Prod Election

David Runciman: The Point of the Polls

5 June 2008
... where for the most part Lincoln wasn’t even on the ballot). Dewey died in the summer of 1952, so the last election he was able to follow all the way through was the one four years earlier, when Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey (no relation) in one of the great upsets in US presidential history. This was the election that is remembered for the photo of a triumphant Truman holding up an edition of ...
3 October 1985
Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry​ Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... eminence of the Times. The first woman doctor is kept company by the first woman barrister, Ivy Williams. The first private to win a field-marshal’s baton, Sir William Robertson, is missing. Billy Smart, the circus proprietor, is in, though not Sir Alan Cobham, whose private air force introduced millions to flying, or Sir Donald Wolfit. Tom Webster, the sports cartoonist, gains his niche, but not ...

Iniquity in Romford

Bernard Porter: Black Market Britain

23 May 2013
Black Market Britain 1939-55 
by Mark Roodhouse.
Oxford, 276 pp., £65, March 2013, 978 0 19 958845 9
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... Noël Coward called this ‘selfish, pathetic triviality’, though he later fell foul of the regulations himself. So did Lady Astor, Lord Donegall and the army’s provost marshal, no less. It was a smart move by the authorities to target these figures. It was smart, too (though not mentioned here), to make such a play of the king’s and Churchill’s strict adherence to food rationing; though in ...

In Icy Baltic Waters

David Blackbourn: Gunter Grass

27 June 2002
Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 216 pp., €18, February 2002, 3 88243 800 2
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... shares his date of birth with Hitler. In fact, Im Krebsgang continues the history told in the ‘Love Letters’ section of that earlier book, just as Dog Years reprised characters from The Tin Drum. Harry Liebenau and Jenny Brunies reappear. So, above all, does Tulla Pokriefke, the recipient of cousin Harry’s love letters, last met with in Dog Years as a teenage tram conductor who had just suffered ...


Christopher Hitchens: Reagan and Rambo

3 October 1985
... nicknamed Star Wars. Defending his inventive tax-reform bill, and challenging the Democrats to make something of it, he gurgled: ‘Make my day!’ But comparisons between his style and that of Dirty Harry are daily discouraged by a pained, overworked White House press office. The apotheosis of all this (‘Where’s the Rest of Me?’ ‘Let’s Win This One for the Gipper!’) came, Rogin believes ...

All I Can Stand

Thomas Powers: Joseph Mitchell

17 June 2015
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Thomas Kunkel.
Random House, 384 pp., £22.50, April 2015, 978 0 375 50890 5
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... writer, Man in Profile. Kunkel found references to several possible projects: a big New York novel in the manner of James Joyce whom Mitchell admired above all other moderns; a life and times of a smart and funny woman who hung out with New Yorker writers and married one of them; a big personality piece about an Italian carter named Joe Cantalupo who was a fixture of the Fulton Fish Market, subject ...

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