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Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 September 1980

C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... This is a collection of essays, old and new, by diverse hands, brought together by James T. Como, a Professor of Rhetorical Communication in the City University of New York. He tells us in an introduction: ‘Now several societies exist for the purpose of studying Lewis’s thoughts; film rights to several of his books have been purchased, and filmed documentaries of his life have been produced; both popular and scholarly books on Lewis are being published with increasing frequency (so that the Modern Language Association cites Lewis as one of the most rapidly increasing objects of literary study in the world ...

Ever so comfy

James Wood, 24 March 1994

Collected Poems 1953-1993 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 241 00167 6
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Dante’s Drum-Kit 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 145 pp., £6.99, November 1993, 0 571 17055 2
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Old Men and Comets 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, November 1994, 0 19 283176 3
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Plato’s Ladder 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 79 pp., £6.99, November 1992, 0 19 282986 6
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The Country at My Shoulder 
by Moniza Alvi.
Oxford, 56 pp., £6.99, September 1993, 0 19 283125 9
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British Subjects 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, July 1993, 1 85224 248 5
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Night Photograph 
by Lavinia Greenlaw.
Faber, 54 pp., £5.99, October 1993, 0 571 16894 9
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Nil Nil 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 53 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16808 6
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Out of Danger 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 103 pp., £7.50, December 1993, 0 14 058719 5
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... or Leonardo (‘Leonardo is much to blame/For fixing the equivocal’) and travels to Lake Como or France or Venice (‘A mauve trauergondel off San Michele’). If this fails, The Poet can always enter an old poem: I know, my love, I’ve preached at you With all the weary wisdom of Onegin. (Can one imagine anything worse than being apologised to by ...

On Snow

Anne Carson, 21 April 2022

... I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes’ in the King James version. In more modern versions, ‘I am like a wineskin shrivelled by smoke’; or ‘Though I am shrivelled like a leather flask in the smoke’; or ‘I am useless as a discarded wineskin.’ The notion seems to be that without God the psalmist or his ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... Express for Budapest, then chuffs on to Milan, from where it cruises to a luxurious island on Lake Como, then to Lausanne. A brief interlude on Lake Geneva is followed by a long jaunt to Buenos Aires. A climax is reached in Brussels, ‘the heart of our brave new Europe’. An epilogue follows in ‘Schlossburg’, Southern Germany, site of one of the four ...

Bigger Crowds, More Roses

James Lasdun: Best Fascist Face, 3 June 2021

The Perfect Fascist: A Story of Love, Power and Morality in Mussolini’s Italy 
by Victoria de Grazia.
Harvard, 517 pp., £28.95, August 2020, 978 0 674 98639 8
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... by other means, with grander entrances, bigger crowds and more roses. Travelling to a rally in Como where she stood ‘like royalty’ above a flower-waving crowd of twenty thousand, she experienced ‘one of the greatest emotions of my life’.The wedding, in June 1926, consisted of a civil ceremony followed (in line with Fascism’s recent accommodations ...

Queening It

Jenny Diski: Nina Simone, 25 June 2009

Nina Simone: The Biography 
by David Brun-Lambert.
Aurum, 346 pp., £20, February 2009, 978 1 84513 430 3
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... This is not so much the case with male singers: I don’t think Caruso, Matt Munro, Perry Como or Tony Bennett have been written about as tragic lives (though Chet Baker, with the sweet girlie voice that none of the divas had, probably belongs on the women’s side). Even the neurotic Sinatra is mostly known for having fun. Singing for men can be ...

Like China Girls

Naomi Fry: Rachel Kushner, 18 July 2013

The Flamethrowers 
by Rachel Kushner.
Harvill Secker, 400 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84655 791 0
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... The novel has been the subject of much talk since its publication in America. In the New Yorker, James Wood noted the ‘eerie confidence’ of the storytelling. ‘It ripples,’ he said, ‘with stories, anecdotes, set-piece monologues, crafty egotistical tall tales and hapless adventures.’ In Salon, Laura Miller said it had ‘authority in ...

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