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Dostoevsky’s America

Karl Miller, 3 September 1981

In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison 
by Jack HenryAbbott.
Random House, 166 pp., $11.95, June 1981, 0 394 51858 6
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... compiling his 15,000-page transcript of interview material, he received a letter from a man named Jack Abbott. The man had a lot in common with Gilmore. Both had spent a huge proportion of their lives in detention. Still in jail, Abbott went on to dispatch a series of letters which were meant to instruct Mailer in the ...

Sweet Fifteen

James Campbell, 3 November 1983

Bad Blood: A Family Murder 
by Richard Levine.
Hutchinson, 351 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 09 152360 5
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The Glasgow Rape Case 
by Ross Harper and Arnot McWhinnie.
Hutchinson, 259 pp., £5.95, June 1983, 0 09 151731 1
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Notes from a Waiting-Room 
by Alan Reeve.
Heretic Books, 203 pp., £3.50, May 1983, 0 946097 09 7
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... is Norman Mailer and the subject this time is not Gary Gilmore but Mailer’s ill-fated protégé, Jack HenryAbbott. However, the description – with my substitution of ‘boy’ where Mailer had ‘prisoner’ – fits Alan Reeve exactly. Notes from a Waiting-Room is a confused, anguished account of Reeve’s ...

Dennis Nilsen, or the Pot of Basil

John Ryle, 21 February 1985

Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 352 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 224 02184 2
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Queens 
by Pickles.
Quartet, 289 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2439 3
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Ritualised Homosexuality in Melanesia 
edited by Gilbert Herdt.
California, 409 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 520 05037 1
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... like Truman Capote’s portrait of Manson’s accomplice Bobby Beausoleil or Norman Mailer’s of Jack Abbott. Masters has had unique access to Nilsen’s own reflections and he interprets them with precision and sensitivity; he also considers and gently dismisses the lamentably vague and contradictory psychiatric evidence given at Nilsen’s trial. Do ...

The Right to Murder

Gaby Wood: ‘In a Lonely Place’, 22 March 2018

In a Lonely Place 
by Dorothy B. Hughes.
NYRB, 224 pp., $14.95, August 2017, 978 1 68137 147 4
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In a Lonely Place 
directed by Nicholas Ray.
Criterion Collection, £14.99
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... needs medical attention, that he visit the ‘veterans’ hospital’. As the crime writer Megan Abbott writes in the afterword to this edition of In a Lonely Place, ‘Hughes understood implicitly how such trauma connects to gender and a dangerously beset masculinity – and how it can explode into sexual violence.’ ‘The war years were the first happy ...

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