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James Wood, 5 August 1993

The New 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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... like a dead fish oozing ‘its fluid genital trash’ – which is why he is worth reading at all. Harry Smart, 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 verse moves in an expensive chamber of ...

Let’s not overthink this

Michael Wood, 9 September 1993

... 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, in fact, as the most bankable and enduring Hollywood star ...

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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... 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 time and place; 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 recently left him to go back to New York; his two children had also gone. It was, he later wrote, a time when his life was ‘at an ebb, professionally and privately ...


Clancy Sigal: Among the Draft-Dodgers, 9 October 2008

... 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 Harry was ambushed by a ...

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’s Schooldays: hasn’t even heard of it ...


Harry Mathews, 28 November 1996

The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp: Desire, Liberation and the Self in Modern Culture 
by Jerrold Seigel.
California, 291 pp., £28, September 1996, 0 520 20038 1
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... strangeness as if the artist had no idea of what he was revealing; Duchamp strikes me as too smart for that. His enigmatic titles are said to secure him ‘in some invisible, private space’. But Duchamp’s comment – that they created ‘the possibility to invent a theme for the paintings, afterwards’ – looks acceptable enough. An enigma need not ...

Little Grey Cells

J. Robert Lennon: More Marple than Poirot, 5 March 2020

Big Sky 
by Kate Atkinson.
Black Swan, 356 pp., £8.99, January, 978 0 552 77666 0
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... 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 interviewing in the ...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe: Beryl Bainbridge’s Beats, 7 May 2020

... the children.Injury Time isn’t the sort of novel that anyone writes these days: 150 pages of smart, efficient prose; characters and situation ruthlessly developed and then as ruthlessly discarded. Enormous skill is expended on a construction that builds rapid momentum, is packed with vitality, and then is abruptly over and done, roaring off into a chilly ...

At the Garden Museum

Rosemary Hill: Constance Spry, 9 September 2021

... scheme. Belgrave Road was not a great success. Victoria was too far off the beaten track of the smart set, so she moved to South Audley Street, Mayfair, in 1934. Already, according to Vogue, ‘one of the essential figures behind the scenes of social life’, Spry now stepped into the limelight. In 1935 she got her first royal commission, for the wedding of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Princess Di and Laura Palmer, 22 January 2004

... 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 scab of small-town ...

At Tate Modern

Eleanor Birne: Performing for the Camera, 21 April 2016

... 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 man smacking down onto the tarmac below. As it ...

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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... 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 a miscarriage; here ...

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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... 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 Churchill’s case this ...

Populist Palatial

Rosemary Hill: The View from Piccadilly, 4 March 2021

London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 19 882341 4
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Survey of London: Volume 53, Oxford Street 
edited by Andrew Saint.
Paul Mellon Centre, 421 pp., £75, April 2020, 978 1 913107 08 6
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... In fact, they were merely operating on different principles. Selfridges escaped unscathed because Harry Gordon Selfridge was known to be in favour of the vote.Much of McWilliam’s book is devoted to the theatres, always the beating heart of the West End, the brightest of the bright lights. At the beginning of his account only the patent theatres, principally ...

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