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My father says

Brian Dillon: Hugo Hamilton

23 March 2006
The Sailor in the Wardrobe 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 0 00 719217 7
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... of his anger seeped in, along with my guilt at the episode of the stolen stick, so that I felt myself, for the first time, somehow insufficiently Irish. The two autobiographical volumes that HugoHamilton has now devoted to his early years in a coastal Dublin suburb in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s amount to a study of the ways in which a national history insinuates itself into the mind of a child ...

No boozing, no donkeys

George O’Brien: Hugo Hamilton

10 July 2003
The Speckled People 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Fourth Estate, 298 pp., £15.99, February 2003, 0 00 714805 4
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... HugoHamilton was born in 1953 to an Irish father and a German mother. When he was growing up, as he writes in this remarkable memoir, he spent a lot of time trying to prove that he wasn’t a Nazi. But he never ...

Audrey’s Eye

Anthony Quinn

21 February 1991
Leaving Brooklyn 
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz.
Minerva, 146 pp., £4.99, December 1990, 0 7493 9072 7
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Surrogate City 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14432 2
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... in what we call the past’. With its strange lyrical contortions this novel is proof that writing about what you know can be a drastic process of discovery. It is difficult not to sympathise with HugoHamilton, a Dublin-born writer whose debut novel Surrogate City was hijacked by reality before it even appeared. Set in pre-1989 Berlin, what clearly started out as a contemporary urban romance ...

Imbalance

Michael Hofmann: The Charm of Hugo​ Williams

22 May 2003
Collected Poems 
by Hugo​ Williams.
Faber, 288 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 571 21233 6
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... It is a curious thing that of the three judges offering superlatives on the jacket of Hugo Williams’s Collected Poems – Edna Longley, Douglas Dunn and Peter Porter – none is English. And yet Williams, born in Windsor during World War Two, the son of the English actor Hugh Williams ...

We’ll win or lose it here

Robert F. Worth: Lessons from Tahrir Square

20 September 2017
The City Always Wins 
by Omar Robert Hamilton.
Faber, 312 pp., £14.99, August 2017, 978 0 571 33517 6
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Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt 
by Yasmine El Rashidi.
Tim Duggan, 181 pp., £11.70, June 2017, 978 0 7704 3729 9
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... long ‘moral history of the men of my generation’. Novelists who take a more literal approach risk putting themselves in competition with historians, who are usually accorded more patience. Victor Hugo would be forgotten today if all he had written was Ninety-Three, his fictional version of the Terror and the Vendée rebellion (though the book made a deep impression on the young Stalin, for reasons ...

No Fun

David Blackbourn: Heinrich and Thomas Mann

15 October 1998
Letters of Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 1900-49 
edited by Hans Wysling, translated by Don Reneau.
California, 444 pp., £40, March 1998, 0 520 07278 2
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... Twenty years ago Nigel Hamilton wrote a double biography of the literary Brothers Mann, giving equal billing to the celebrated Thomas and the neglected Heinrich. It was certainly time to look again at Heinrich, whose importance as ...

Fame

Ian Hamilton

2 July 1981
Charles Charming’s Challenges on the Pathway to the Throne 
by Clive James.
Cape, 103 pp., £4.95, June 1981, 0 224 01954 6
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... sort of fluency: a number of these are funny, but in ways in which James has been much funnier before. The strength of Peregrine Prykke was in the detail of its little world (who is Terry Towelling, Hugo Harsfried, Klaus Mauler?). Most readers couldn’t know about the true-to-life-ness of his characters, and could therefore respond to them as if they were James’s own ribald inventions. The tiniest ...
15 April 2013
... the last decade of British life, it’s hard not to feel a sort of appalled boredom. There is, moreover, no end to her presumption: to the already notorious quotes one can add another culled by Hugo Young, who finds her measuring ‘my performance against that of other countries in the real world’.​R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989 If you want to see the cutting edge of Thatcherism, go to ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes

18 June 1998
Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... Paterson: ‘It’s still easier to get money for that hypertext-poetry-with-throat-singing-and-freeform-macramé project than for anything sensible.’ Today’s mood is perhaps best expressed by Hugo Williams. His answer to ‘should the state do more for writers?’ is: ‘Yes for me, no for everyone else . . . In other words no . . . today young writers are almost by definition award ...

Troglodytes

Patrick Parrinder

25 October 1990
Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination 
by Rosalind Williams.
MIT, 265 pp., £22.50, March 1990, 9780262231459
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The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne 
by Andrew Martin.
Oxford, 222 pp., £27.50, May 1990, 0 19 815798 3
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... the city. The excavation of the buried cities around Mount Vesuvius began with the discovery of Pompeii in 1750, and is still continuing. An early collector of Pompeian antiquities was Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to the Court of Naples in the 1770s, whose frequent observations of the crater of the volcano were communicated to the Royal Society. Bulwer-Lytton stayed in Naples long enough to ...

C is for Colonies

Anthony Pagden: A New History of Empire

11 May 2006
Edge of Empire: Conquest and Collecting in the East 1750-1850 
by Maya Jasanoff.
Fourth Estate, 405 pp., £25, August 2005, 0 00 718009 8
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... a way of mediating the hybrid worlds in which they found themselves. It was not only the parvenus of empire who collected. Some of the century’s greatest hoarders, from Horace Walpole to William Hamilton, had only a slight association with empire. But the collections of the Poliers and the Clives were filled not only with the traditional European decorative objects, from furniture to paintings, with ...
21 June 1984
The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 241 11086 6
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Doctor Slaughter 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 137 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 241 11255 9
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... t think I’ll do that after all. This is a strong tendency in recent travel writing – the traveller going to an unexciting location and reporting on his lack of excitement; Jonathan Raban and Hugo Williams purvey this mode as well. Is it that old-style travellers chose their destinations better? Did they perhaps fake their enthusiasm? Or was the world simply fresher then? Today’s travellers ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller

25 April 2013
... McKibbin, E.P. Thompson, Tam Dalyell and Peter Clarke. What they wrote seemed excellent to me, with Runciman bearing the palm for aphoristic conciseness. In embarking on a review, also in 1989, of Hugo Young’s biography of her, R.W. Johnson was also concise: ‘personally, she is neither nice nor interesting. She has immense energy, remarkable tenacity and stamina, and a good brain. But she has a ...

At the End of a Dirt Road

Thomas Powers: The Salinger File

24 October 2019
The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour – an Introduction 
by J.D. Salinger.
Little, Brown, 1072 pp., $100, November 2018, 978 0 316 45071 3
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... was OK, but he got over it. For many decades he passionately, and with few exceptions successfully, defended his ‘privacy’. He fended off journalists and biographers, sometimes in the courts: Ian Hamilton was commissioned by Random House to write a biographical study subtitled ‘A Writing Life’, but permission to quote from Salinger’s unpublished letters was denied by the courts and Hamilton’s ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton​ talked about himself to Dan Jacobson

14 January 2002
... This is the first part of a two-part interview. Part 2: ‘The Price’. Ian Hamilton died of cancer on 27 December 2001, aged 63. It was a death that the ‘LRB’ has especial cause to lament. He was a great support to this paper, helping to get it going in 1979, serving ever since ...

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