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The First Person, Steroid-Enhanced

Hari Kunzru: Hunter S. Thompson, 15 October 1998

The Rum Diary 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 204 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 9780747541684
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The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters. Vol. I 
by Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Douglas Brinkley.
Bloomsbury, 720 pp., £9.99, July 1998, 0 7475 3619 8
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... version of one of his own well-cut suits. While this surface stylishness characterises Wolfe’s own voice, with its caustic social observations and bravura displays of writerly technique, for other writers the chance to speak in an unmediated first person fulfilled a more urgent necessity. It allowed Michael Herr, on assignment in Vietnam for Esquire and ...

When the going gets weird

A. Craig Copetas, 19 December 1991

Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Picador, 316 pp., £15.95, October 1991, 0 330 31994 9
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... jerseys. I was ahead a few bucks when the Ohio State centre put a savage elbow into Magic’s young chin and Doc’s screams of ‘foul’ were interrupted by the sight of a White House adviser about to break open a vial of cocaine. Doc slapped me on the shoulder and muttered ‘Jeeesus’ – a sure sign of impending ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... performing Shakespearean tragedy, they were doing it in drag. I had been inspired, if that’s the word, by seeing the play at Basingstoke’s Haymarket Theatre, which recently lost its Arts Council grant and has closed down. I remember very little about the production except that the actors were wearing heavy woollen ...

Just be yourself

David Hirson, 23 July 1987

Swimming to Cambodia: The Collected Works of Spalding Gray 
by Spalding Gray.
Picador, 304 pp., £3.50, January 1987, 0 330 29947 6
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... however. Gray typifies, even cultivates, ordinariness. It is his extreme passivity which is so attractive, his longing for identity that draws in the surrounding atmosphere like a vortex. He seduces the world in order to be defined or transfigured by it: to become somebody at last. And the world is only too willing to oblige. Emblazoned on the front ...

The Global Id

John Lanchester: Is Google a good thing?, 26 January 2006

The Google Story 
by David Vise.
Macmillan, 326 pp., £14.99, November 2005, 1 4050 5371 2
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The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture 
by John Battelle.
Nicholas Brealey, 311 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 1 85788 361 6
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... company in the world that is also a spelling mistake. Back in the palaeolithic era (that’s the palaeolithic era in the internet sense, i.e. autumn 1997) its co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were graduate computer science students at Stanford. They were working on an insanely cool new search engine, wanted to incorporate it as a company, and ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Who is François Hollande?, 13 September 2012

... it out with DSK but Aubry was the only other candidate left standing. The story of Hollande’s nomination and the presidential campaign is told with wit and great charm by the novelist Laurent Binet in Rien ne se passe comme prévu (Grasset, ¤17), a Hunter S. ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: What Writers Wear, 27 July 2017

... important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.’ In the novel clothes propel the narrative of Orlando’s passage through time and gender. In Mrs Dalloway the green dress is in effect a character, an expression of what Woolf described in her diary as ‘the ...

Raving

Hari Kunzru, 22 May 1997

Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House 
by Matthew Collin and John Godfrey.
Serpent’s Tail, 314 pp., £18.99, April 1997, 1 85242 377 3
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Disco Biscuits 
edited by Jane Champion.
Sceptre, 300 pp., £6.99, February 1997, 0 340 68265 5
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... him into trouble with his employer, the Dole Chemical Company, was the first to recognise MDMA’s mood-altering effects; he called it an ‘empathogen’. So deeply affected was he by his MDMA experiences that he eventually resigned his job, built a laboratory in his garden shed, and embarked on thirty years of research ...

Young Ones

Hugh Barnes, 5 June 1986

Damaged Gods 
by Julie Burchill.
Century, 152 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7126 1140 1
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Love it or shove it: The Best of Julie Burchill 
Century, 148 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 7126 0746 3Show More
Girls on Film 
by Julie Burchill.
Virgin, 192 pp., £5.99, March 1986, 9780863691348
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Less than Zero 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 208 pp., £2.95, February 1986, 0 330 29400 8
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... still at school, which always seemed to me a rather melancholy fact – not least because one’s authority as a rebel was brought into question by having to attend lessons and the like. Out of hours, we worked hard to make good our sense of disadvantage, and a competition, which was incidental to following our favourite groups around London, started up ...

Doofus

Christopher Tayler: Dave Eggers, 3 April 2003

You Shall Know Our Velocity 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 350 pp., £16.99, February 2003, 0 241 14228 8
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... when a composite figure called ‘John’ complains that the author is exploiting other people’s experiences: ‘I am owed.’ ‘You’re not . . . You’re like a . . . a cannibal or something.’ And owed, perhaps, as the book too often seems to assume, a sympathetic attitude to his capacity for huge self-indulgence. Rage and grief are important ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... folds in the map, is that Paul Schrader, the director of a sassy remake of Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, admired Penman’s review so much that he invited him over to Los Angeles to talk product. Penman in California was truly the vision of a man who fell to earth, a pale alien in ...

Madder Men

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton on Richard Hamilton, 24 October 2019

Richard Hamilton: Introspective 
by Phillip Spectre.
König, 408 pp., £49, September 2019, 978 3 88375 695 0
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... to be precocious in talent, humble in origin and, if possible, anointed by a predecessor – so he gives us Cimabue discovering the shepherd boy Giotto sketching a pastoral scene with perfect skill. Born in 1922, Richard Hamilton was a working-class kid whose gift for drawing was recognised early on: at 12, he talked his way into adult classes, and at ...

Fear and Loathing in Limehouse

Richard Holme, 3 September 1987

Campaign! The Selling of the Prime Minister 
by Rodney Tyler.
Grafton, 251 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 246 13277 9
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Battle for Power 
by Des Wilson.
Sphere, 326 pp., £4.99, July 1987, 0 7221 9074 3
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David Owen: Personally Speaking 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 297 79206 7
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... exclusively in terms of menace. Which would the voters be more frightened of – loony Labour’s threat to Britain’s defence and personal prosperity or the hard-faced Conservatives’ dismemberment of health, education and welfare? ‘I wants to make your flesh creep,’ said the fat boy, and that is what the parties ...

Bible Study in the Basement

Namara Smith: ‘Priestdaddy: A Memoir’, 13 July 2017

Priestdaddy: A Memoir 
by Patricia Lockwood.
Allen Lane, 333 pp., £14.99, May 2017, 978 1 84614 920 7
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... the right to joke about such things was debated on the internet for months. Patricia Lockwood’s contribution to this debate, perhaps the only poem (so far) inspired by a social media controversy, was published in the online magazine the Awl in 2013. At the time, Lockwood, whose first poetry collection, Balloon Pop ...

The Unpredictable Cactus

Emily Witt: Mescaline, 2 January 2020

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 297 pp., £18.99, May 2019, 978 0 300 23107 6
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... converts amino acids into compounds known as alkaloids. The evolutionary purpose of San Pedro’s most famous alkaloid, the psychoactive compound mescaline, is unknown, but humans have been aware of its effects for thousands of years. When boiled down into a brew and ingested, it activates an alternative experience of consciousness.‘No mind-altering ...

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