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Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann

17 March 1983
Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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Bluebeard 
by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... of futurology to persuade us that we will never be much better than we are. Equally telling evidence of the crisis of Utopianism can be found in the latest novel by a veteran of Science Fiction, HarryHarrison’s Rebel in Time. Where George Turner ventures into the future for an experimental re-creation of mid-20th-century warfare, Harrison exploits that valuable generic resource, the time ...

Rabbit Resartus

Edward Pearce

8 November 1990
Rabbit at Rest 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 505 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 233 98622 7
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... agency. Rabbit speculates, at the height of inflation, in Krugerrands, makes love on a pile of them and sells in time, tries for one girl but, in a rich man’s yachting swop, draws another, Thelma Harrison, who, unnervingly, loves him.* That brings us to the start of Rabbit at Rest and represents the barest narrative bones. Sex plus money, plus a slick of current events, plus the small-town scene: the ...

The Authentic Snarl

Blake Morrison: The Impudence of Tony Harrison

30 November 2017
The Inky Digit of Defiance: Selected Prose 1966-2016 
by Tony Harrison, edited by Edith Hall.
Faber, 544 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 571 32503 0
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Collected Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Penguin, 464 pp., £9.99, April 2016, 978 0 241 97435 3
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... If​ his English teacher hadn’t been so snootily discouraging, it’s unlikely that Tony Harrison would have gone on to write as much as he has: by my calculation, 13 plays, 11 films and twenty or more poetry collections and pamphlets, not to mention the essays and addresses assembled in Edith ...

Afloat with Static

Jenny Turner: Hey, Blondie!

9 December 2019
Face It 
by Debbie Harry.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, October, 978 0 00 822942 9
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... As​ a child, Debbie Harry was always searching for ‘the perfect taste’. She couldn’t describe it, but knew she’d know it if she found it. ‘Sometimes, I got a hint of it in peanut butter. Other times … when I drank ...

Two Poems

Tony Harrison: ‘Fruitility’

28 October 1999
... Fruitility What a glorious gift from Gaia, raspberries piled on papaya, which as a ruse to lift my soul I serve up in my breakfast bowl, and, contemplating, celebrate nature’s fruit, and man’s air-freight speeding my fruit breakfast here through tropo- and through stratosphere. I praise papaya and celebrate the man who packed it in its crate, the worker or Hawaiian grower in Kipahulu or Pahoa ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford

20 April 1989
Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... Where do you come from?’ asks one of the most important questions in contemporary poetry – where’s home? Answering the pulls and torsions of that question produces much of the verse of Heaney, Harrison and Dunn, but it also produces very different kinds of poetry. Martianism had nothing to do with Mars, everything to do with home, the place where Craig Raine (like Murray or Dunn) feels richest ...
8 June 1995
Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine 
by Lester Grinspoon, edited by James Bakalar.
Yale, 184 pp., £7.95, April 1995, 0 300 05994 9
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... The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 required the labelling of patent medicines containing morphine, cocaine etc. Three years later, importation of smoking-opium was proscribed. Then, in 1914, the Harrison Act made opiates and other narcotics legally available only on prescription and for the treatment of disease. The Supreme Court ruled that supplying addicts with prescriptions for narcotics was ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: ‘Hollywood Costume’

20 December 2012
... to cut, detail, materials and provenance. What the fabrics are, where the buttons came from, where the lace was made and so forth aren’t often disclosed, though we are given a deconstructive bio of Harrison Ford’s outfit as Indiana Jones. We also learn that when there was a shortage in the supply of peacock feathers for Hedy Lamarr’s train in Delilah, Cecil B. DeMille announced that he happened to ...

Gossip in Gilt

James Wood: John Updike’s Licks of Love

19 April 2001
Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, ‘Rabbit Remembered’ 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 368 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 9780241141298
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... ever since my days of car-seat courtship I’ve liked to press my face into a girlfriend’s nether soul, to taste the waters in which we all must swim out to the light.’ A hundred pages later, Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom’s son, Nelson, will reflect: ‘and it was lovely to have a woman’s head down there, all that hair under your hands, the tips of her ears and back of her neck, you can’t ...

Rain, Blow, Rustle

Nick Richardson: John Cage

19 August 2010
No Such Thing As Silence: John Cage’s 4'33" 
by Kyle Gann.
Yale, 255 pp., £16.99, April 2010, 978 0 300 13699 9
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... so invented counting games that involved moving rhythmically round the space, in silence. In San Francisco, Cage found himself part of a thriving musical avant-garde that included Cowell, Lou Harrison (who shared his interest in unusual percussion), the micro-tonal composer and vagabond Harry Partch, and the prolific symphonist Alan Hovhaness. He also met Moholy-Nagy, who invited him to teach a ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII

26 April 2012
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... In a chapter on animals in his Description of England, the Elizabethan antiquary William Harrison told not one but two stories about Henry VII. ‘As the report goeth’, he wrote, the king had had all the mastiffs in England put to death because ‘they durst presume to fight against the lion ...

Delightful to be Robbed

E.S. Turner: Stand and deliver

9 May 2002
Outlaws and Highwaymen: The Cult of the Robber in England from the Middle Ages to the 19th century 
by Gillian Spraggs.
Pimlico, 372 pp., £12.50, November 2001, 0 7126 6479 3
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... those who take his fancy, but he is a robber just the same.’ Attempts to portray him as of noble birth are idle fiction. The myth of Robin Hood was well established by the time the sparkish Prince Harry, the future Henry V, was engaged in mischievous highway robberies, possibly little more than royal horseplay, along with that other ‘gentleman robber’ Falstaff (as unreliably described in ...

All together

Humphrey Carpenter

7 December 1989
The Safest Place in the World: A Personal History of British Rhythm and Blues 
by Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Quartet, 178 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7043 2696 5
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Mama said there’d be days like these: My Life in the Jazz World 
by Val Wilmer.
Women’s Press, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5040 8
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Lenya: A Life 
by Donald Spoto.
Viking, 371 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 670 81211 0
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... great musical achievements. A recent biography of Epstein emphasised the four musicians’ profound relief when at last they allowed themselves to break up (‘I’m not a Beatle any more!’ George Harrison is said to have cried delightedly after their last public appearance), and left one wondering how they had managed to stay together so long. Dick Heckstall-Smith defines a band as ‘a passengerless ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths

28 January 2010
... donning dark glasses and ascending to heaven, while Rage Against the Machine break out their heavy-metal anthem ‘Wake Up’. But it isn’t all CGI, yet, at reality’s interface with illusion. Harry Potter, for example, nips into a sanctuary of rather more traditional design to place a call to the Ministry of Magic. J.K. Rowling has enough respect for folk memory to register his surprise that ...

Ghosting

Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange

6 March 2014
... the verbal manner of John F. Kennedy when he wrote Profiles in Courage, a book for which the future president won the Pulitzer Prize? And are the science fiction stories H.P. Lovecraft ghosted for Harry Houdini not the best things he ever wrote? There would be a touch of all this in the strange case of Assange. But there is something else about the genre, a sense that the world might be more ghosted ...

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