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Damp-Lipped Hilary

Jenny Diski: Larkin’s juvenilia, 23 May 2002

Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions 
by Philip Larkin, edited by James Booth.
Faber, 498 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 571 20347 7
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... I’ve never stuffed a mushroom in my life. That much sense I’ve got. I have no idea whether James Booth has ever gone in for fancy cooking. No time probably. He has his hands full of Larkin. He is a Reader in English at Hull University, and after a false start in 1981 (Writers and Politics in Nigeria), he has devoted himself to the cause of Philip ...

Becoming a girl

John Bayley, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: Writer 
by James Booth.
Harvester, 192 pp., £9.95, March 1992, 0 7450 0769 4
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... the head most excitingly takes place. I started to reflect on Larkin and pornography when reading James Booth’s highly effective and detailed study of his poems, though the subject had been put into my head by Anthony Thwaite’s selection of the poet’s letters. Booth, together with Barbara Everett, is among the ...

Why aren’t they screaming?

Helen Vendler: Philip Larkin, 6 November 2014

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love 
by James Booth.
Bloomsbury, 532 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4088 5166 1
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... convey another aspect of Larkin the man, but from those quoted, a less interesting one.) And now James Booth, who teaches English at Hull, and has already written two books on the poet (Philip Larkin: Writer, 1992, and Philip Larkin: The Poet’s Plight, 2005), has composed a brief for the defence of Larkin the man (whom he knew slightly at the ...

Here you are talking about duck again

Mark Ford: Larkin’s Letters Home, 20 June 2019

Philip Larkin: Letters Home, 1936-77 
edited by James Booth.
Faber, 688 pp., £40, November 2018, 978 0 571 33559 6
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... Fools’ War’. In his excellent introduction to this selection of Larkin’s letters home, James Booth quotes from its first page to demonstrate the nature of Larkin Senior’s political views: ‘Those who had visited Germany were much impressed by the good government and order of the country as by the cleanliness and good behaviour of the people ...

These Staggering Questions

Clive James, 3 April 1980

Critical Understanding 
by Wayne Booth.
Chicago, 400 pp., £14, September 1979, 0 226 06554 5
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... Previous books by Wayne C. Booth, especially The Rhetoric of Fiction, have been well received in the academic world. Since it first made its appearance in the early Sixties, The Rhetoric of Fiction has gone on to establish itself as a standard work – a touchstone of sanity. Probably the same thing will happen to the book under review ...

Friends

Eugene Goodheart, 16 March 1989

The company we keep: An Ethics of Fiction 
by Wayne Booth.
California, 485 pp., $29.55, November 1988, 0 520 06203 5
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... Wayne Booth begins his new book by recalling how in the early Sixties he and his colleagues at the University of Chicago could ignore the distress of a young black assistant professor, Paul Moses, who declared that he would no longer teach Huckleberry Finn because he found the portrayal of Jim offensive. Booth remembers with more than a twinge of conscience that he and his colleagues found the challenge to Mark Twain’s great novel offensive because it violated ‘academic norms of objectivity ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... high-profile exemplar of this style was the magnate, George Walker; once, according to James Morton, an ‘ally’ of Billy Hill and Eddie Chapman, later a frequently puffed adornment of the Thatcherite open market culture.) There is nothing new in the concept, quality tailoring bonded over primal naughtiness. It has been spelled out frequently in ...

What sort of man?

P.N. Furbank, 18 August 1994

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Vol. I: 1854-April 1874 
edited by Bradford Booth and Ernest Mehew.
Yale, 525 pp., £29.95, July 1994, 0 300 05183 2
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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Vol. II: April 1874-July 1879 
edited by Bradford Booth and Ernest Mehew.
Yale, 352 pp., £29.95, July 1994, 0 300 06021 1
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... need, then, for a new edition, and the task was undertaken as far back as the Fifties by Bradford Booth. Indeed before his death in 1968 Booth had, with some assistance from Ernest Mehew, more or less completed it, but on what appeared to Mehew as faulty principles. Thus the present elaborate and magnificent edition, which ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... alarming, even as the witchfinder general. Peter Lorre was heartbreaking as a child murderer. James Gandolfini, playing an incorrigibly mean-minded godfather for seven years, strangely held on to the affection of most of his mass audience. James Cagney had his moments of deadpan nastiness, but there’s the mother ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: Are books like nappies?, 2 August 2012

... exciting: ‘The only people who are excited are the ones selling young adult vampires.’ At a booth marked THE GOVERNMENT BELIEVES IN GOD – WHY DON’T YOU? a preacher was flanked by two young women in white spandex bodysuits with wings on their backs. More angels were roaming the floor. Queues at the signing booths led to authors of romance novels. The ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice, 11 October 2018

... present us with another America, of main streets, front yards, soft, riverine light: home to James Dean, Ronald Reagan and Mark Twain, three utterly dissimilar characters but emblematic for Tice of a certain idea of America. The images in Lincoln at first seem something else entirely. In fact, through these photographs of memorials of Abraham Lincoln in ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... The spirit is sometimes called Structuralism, sometimes Deconstruction or Post-Structuralism. James Gribble’s book is a call to action: the teaching of literature, he argues, should be based upon the centrality of literary criticism. Literary criticism is ‘that form of discourse which undertakes the analysis of works of literature so as to do justice ...

Diary

Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... a pig’s back). We stare out along the coast to Tory Island, the home of the great naive painter, James Dixon. Below us Donegal is green, still, silent and peaceful. I’m too tired that evening to open either Himself Alone or The Idiot, and in any case I want to a make a start on a new book, a collection of short essays on single poems. I wish I’d packed a ...

How Movies End

David Thomson: John Boorman’s Quiet Ending, 20 February 2020

Conclusions 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 237 pp., £20, February, 978 0 571 35379 8
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... to make a film there.’He would need a further saviour. His rough cut was shown to Margaret Booth, nearly seventy, who had worked for D.W. Griffith, and on Garbo pictures, and on Mutiny on the Bounty. She supervised the editing, gave John a few notes, all of which he acted on, then sat through another screening with the MGM suits, who did their idiot ...

Who’s under the desk?

Siddhartha Deb: James Lasdun’s Novel, 7 March 2002

The Horned Man 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 195 pp., £10.99, February 2002, 0 224 06217 4
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... At the beginning of James Lasdun’s novel, Lawrence Miller, a professor of gender studies at a college on the outskirts of New York, is interrupted while reading a book. When he returns to his office the next day, he finds his bookmark has been moved forward thirty pages. ‘Either I had moved the marker inadvertently myself, or else some night-visitor had been reading the book in my absence ...

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