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Saturday

Ian Patterson

13 September 2018
... Empty air is a distraction         cut out of another void                 scissored away from cypress avenues and dusty white roads too far         below to see anything in it                 that feels like thinking or flying. As we could be, now,         through this shiny air swooping                 on details like a camera ...

Saving Time

Ian Patterson

19 January 2017
... for John Berger It was called a hand as proof, spotless and caught       like watching a false cuff, kind of. It is a pepper mill or a path like a vision along to the glass door. Her will       and the men, hesitating, end up like a house fire. A tight fit bolts and lands in such a way. The shape of hers       seems to me to lament mere shade. How to paint more of a given social role ...

Plenty of Nothing

Ian Patterson

28 June 2017
... in memoriam Jenny Diski 1947-2016 Pale duty stamps about in plenty of nothing         like the night when you knew everything to time when each step was beaten off when the rack might add         more glory and I would watch the stars not kin nor proof to rule the sphere to know         by clothes and tea how to cut them out of lino Now see who has the little boat of love ...

At the Fitzwilliam

Ian Patterson: A tidying-up and a sorting-out

10 August 2016
... The Fitzwilliam Museum​ in Cambridge is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year with a series of exhibitions and activities designed to illustrate different aspects of the collection, which since its foundation in 1816 has been wonderfully various: various enough at times in the past to constitute a muddle of badly hung or oddly displayed materials. Not that this stopped people liking it, as ...

On Keston Sutherland

Ian Patterson: Keston Sutherland

20 September 2017
... Occasionally,​ really not very often, a translation makes something like a jagged hole in the even surface of literary reception, out of which emerge half-familiar figures, dazzling in their new accessibility. Most translations fail at some point because of the twin principles of fidelity and compromise; too often, especially if they are translations of poems, they are not enough like original writing ...

The Method of Drifting

Ian Patterson: John Craske

9 September 2015
Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske 
by Julia Blackburn.
Cape, 344 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 224 09776 5
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... In​ the final pages of The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald imagined ‘the depths of despair into which those can be driven who, even after the end of the working day, are engrossed in their intricate designs and who are pursued, into their dreams, by the feeling that they have got hold of the wrong thread’. Sebald was talking about weavers, but the feeling must be common to all sorts of artists ...

Sexy Robots

Ian Patterson: ‘Machines Like Me’

9 May 2019
Machines like Me 
by Ian​ McEwan.
Cape, 305 pp., £18.99, April, 978 1 78733 166 2
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... There’s​ a very short story by Diane Williams which came into my mind while I was reading Machines like Me, Ian McEwan’s 15th novel. It’s called ‘Machinery’ and it’s 104 words long. It ends: ‘For some idea of the full range of tools at his disposal, one would have to know what human longings are ...

Miss Dior, Prodigally Applied

Ian Patterson: Jilly Cooper

17 May 2017
Mount! 
by Jilly Cooper.
Corgi, 610 pp., £7.99, February 2017, 978 0 552 17028 4
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... Jilly Cooper​ ’s work is not, so far as I know, much studied in universities. In the Senior Combination Room one lunchtime recently, when I mentioned that I was writing this review, a Very Senior Person slumped forward with his head in his hands, muttering: ‘Oh no, soft porn!’ Other people either laugh, or look quizzically at me and hurry away. It sometimes feels as if I’m in a Jilly Cooper ...

Her Body or the Sea

Ian Patterson: Ann Quin

21 June 2018
The Unmapped Country: Stories and Fragments 
by Ann Quin.
And Other Stories, 192 pp., £10, January 2018, 978 1 911508 14 4
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... There​ is something generational about the recent revival of interest in the novelist Ann Quin. After scarcely even maintaining a cult reputation among writers in the years since her death, she’s reappeared like a revenant who’d been lurking in dark corners, and now everybody’s writing about her. Since the rediscovery of B.S. Johnson (if that’s what it was) that followed Jonathan Coe’s ...

My Books

Ian Patterson

4 July 2019
... I’ve always needed​ to have books around me, quantities of them, ever since I can remember. There may be something pathological about it. When I was a boy, the eldest child of literate but not bibliophile parents, in a big enough house in suburban Cheshire, most of my pocket money went on books – Billy Bunter, Jennings, William, War Picture Library, Biggles, Arthur Ransome, bird books. In the ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust

6 January 2005
In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... that one has lost’ – I don’t see what we can do with the definite article except take it or leave it. Translating this sentence in its context, in the last volume of In Search of Lost Time, IanPatterson has ‘the only true paradise is a paradise that we have lost.’ This is good because idiomatic, and it gets rid of the troubling plural. How many paradises could we bear to lose, and how ...

She wore Isabel Marant

Joanna Biggs: Literary London

2 August 2018
Crudo 
by Olivia Laing.
Picador, 140 pp., £12.99, June 2018, 978 1 5098 9283 9
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... Campari in hand, against an Italianate blue sky. Laing had been reviewing Chris Kraus’s biography of Kathy Acker for the Guardian; she had been holidaying in Val d’Orcia with her newish husband, IanPatterson, the Cambridge academic and poet who was Jenny Diski’s husband until her death in April 2016; she was tweeting about Sam Shepard and Brexit and the Booker shortlist and a new Laure ...

May ’88

Douglas Johnson

21 April 1988
Les Sept Mitterrand 
by Catherine Nay.
Grasset, 286 pp., frs 96, September 1988, 2 246 36291 1
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Secker, 647 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 436 01746 6
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Jacques Chirac 
by Franz-Oliver Giesbert.
Seuil, 455 pp., frs 125, April 1987, 2 02 009771 0
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Monsieur Barre 
by Henri Amouroux.
Laffont, 584 pp., frs 125, June 1986, 2 221 04954 3
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The Workers’ Movement 
by Alain Touraine, Michel Wieviorka and François Dubet, translated by Ian Patterson.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 322 pp., £35, October 1987, 0 521 30852 6
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The State and the Market Economy: Industrial Patriotism and Economic Intervention in France 
by Jack Hayward.
Wheatsheaf, 267 pp., £32.50, December 1985, 0 7450 0012 6
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France under Recession 1981-86 
by John Tuppen.
Macmillan, 280 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 333 39889 0
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... In April 1984 President Mitterrand gave a press conference unlike any that had previously been held under the Fifth Republic. He did not sit at a sombre bureau Louis XV decorated with red, white and blue flowers. He was not playing the part of the professor from the Sorbonne, as de Gaulle had so often done, lecturing his audience on the history of France. Even less was he the informal, friendly, pullover-wearing ...
20 October 1994
Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... and all the phallic stormutroopers of High Modernism. Such contrary behaviour is meat and drink to Watson’s poodle dialectics. After all, it was the not notably socialist Ackroyd who (along with IanPatterson and Nick Totton) published the first bulletin from the Zappa papers in 1979: stapled small press format. It’s a breeze for Watson to present himself as a schizoid, high-Culture virtuoso ...

Shareware

Ian​ Sansom: Dave Eggers

16 November 2000
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 
by Dave Eggers.
Picador, 415 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 0 330 48454 0
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... exciting is the book’s sheer rage. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is truly ferocious, like any work of genius. (Like, say, Muhammad Ali. Should he have taunted Ernie Terrell and Floyd Patterson in the way he did? No. But would he have been great if he hadn’t?) Of course people don’t like to admit this, but most literature is only ever a kind of goading or complaint or a two-fingered ...

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