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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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... when I might have done something more positive with them such as sleeping or filing my nails. Actually, I’ve never stuffed a mushroom in my life. That much sense I’ve got. I have no idea whether JamesBooth 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 ...
25 March 1993
Philip Larkin: Writer 
by James Booth.
Harvester, 192 pp., £9.95, March 1992, 0 7450 0769 4
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... lads and nettles dancing on suicides’ graves were for Housman. It is there that for the poet sex in the head most excitingly takes place. I started to reflect on Larkin and pornography when reading JamesBooth’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 ...

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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... also generally wrote to his mother twice a week, but those letters remain unpublished; they might convey another aspect of Larkin the man, but from those quoted, a less interesting one.) And now JamesBooth, 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 ...

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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... after the invasion of Poland, he embarked on what would become a twenty-volume diary that he called ‘The Fools’ War’. In his excellent introduction to this selection of Larkin’s letters home, JamesBooth 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 ...


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 ...
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 ...

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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... Very few actors specialised as Hopper did in convincing malice. Vincent Price was too camp to be really 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 ...
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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... in the Tusitala edition of 1924, since when innumerable further letters have turned up. Plenty of 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 ...
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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... of second-generation Mafia mufti. The business for the aspiring businessman, the boxer in the boardroom. (A 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 ...


Christian Lorentzen: Are books like nappies?

2 August 2012
... on all the doors advertised the new Dean Koontz novel. I asked an editor I know if he’d seen anything 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 Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice

11 October 2018
... empty of human forms – these photographs of Fairmount, Indiana; Dixon, Illinois; and Hannibal, Missouri 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 ...

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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... books, that a dangerous spirit is at large in our colleges and universities, and that it must be stopped. 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 ...


Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues

7 October 2004
... mountains, Aghla More and Muckish, the last named for the Irish for ‘pig’, muck (it looks like 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 ...

How Movies End

David Thomson: John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

9 February 2020
by John Boorman.
Faber, 237 pp., £20, February, 978 0 571 35379 8
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... The anguish of lost souls … The people had lost their bearings and were impersonating humans. I longed 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 ...

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 ...

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