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Top Sergeant

D.A.N. Jones, 23 April 1992

An Autobiography 
by Fred Zinnemann.
Bloomsbury, 256 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 7475 1131 4
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... for invasion and insurrection than those surprised Americans at Pearl Harbor. The movie (and James Jones’s novel, on which it was based) presented that peace-time army as a community wherein a vicious and slothful officer might neglect his duties, turning over his responsibilities to the Top Sergeant, while the Other Ranks (or the Enlisted Men, as ...

The Balboan View

Kenneth Silverman: Alfred Kinsey, 7 May 1998

Alfred Kinsey: A Public/Private Life 
by James Jones.
Norton, 937 pp., £28, October 1997, 0 393 04086 0
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... Behaviour in the Human Male, better known as the ‘Kinsey Report’. Its author, as portrayed in James Jones’s exasperating biography, was no less of a paradox than his book. On this side, the public figure – a sober scientist with an original, careful methodology; over there, the man: a switch-hitting exhibitionist, voyeur and sadomasochist. The ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... Randall Jarrell’s possible suicide, Bill’s own depression. And I talked to him about William James’s own breakdown and his resuscitation through faith. What in hell am I doing with all these theatre types? Alfred Kazin’s journals, 26 December 1986 Discount Kazin’s weary, load-bearing sigh in this characteristic entry from his journals, which ...

Joan Didion’s Style

Martin Amis, 7 February 1980

The White Album 
by Joan Didion.
Weidenfeld, 223 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77702 5
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... but Grace would never be finished And: In 1973 the five pillboxes on Makapuu Head had seemed to James Jones exactly as he had left them in 1942. In 1973 the Royal Hawaiian Hotel had seemed to James Jones less formidably rich than he had left it in 1942 … Both passages evoke the passing of time with the same ...

From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies, 3 September 1981

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... fishing, shooting, whoring, drinking, fathering kids, being a friend to F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce etc. The only way they noticed I injured myself was because I could not spell hemmorage and still cannot. But it is very easy to injure yourself up here. Everybody is drunk all the time – it is the thing to be, like snotty in England – and your ...

A Resonance for William Styron

Gabriele Annan, 7 November 1985

Savage Grace 
by Natalie Robins and Steven Aronson.
Gollancz, 473 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 575 03738 5
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... alive) like the entries in Who’s Who. There are some known names: Cecil Beaton, Jasper Johns, James Jones, John Mortimer, Patricia Neal, William Styron, Andy Warhol. Among the rest are antique dealers, decorators, magazine editors, a ‘freelance music co-ordinator for fashion shows’, a princess ‘internationally concerned with matters of ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... and idealism is empty. Jack Kennedy is alive. Martin Luther King is alive. Bobby Kennedy is alive. James Baldwin is alive. Janis Joplin is alive. Jack Kerouac is alive. Jimi Hendrix is alive. Lyndon Johnson is alive. James Jones is alive. Jim Morrison and Robert Penn Warren are alive. Richard Nixon is dead; and a ...

Diary

Christopher Turner: The controversial Alfred Kinsey, 6 January 2005

... it. Both Kinsey and Reich were investigated by the FBI, itself, according to Kinsey’s biographer James Jones, ‘possibly the only American Institution more obsessed with sex than the Institute for Sex Research’. What does it say about our own times that a mainstream Hollywood movie about Kinsey – a man who died almost fifty years ago – can still ...

Terrorists? Us?

Owen Bennett-Jones, 7 June 2012

Terror Tagging of an Iranian Dissident Organisation 
by Raymond Tanter.
Iran Policy Committee, 217 pp., £10, December 2011, 978 0 9797051 2 0
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... They include Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Obama’s former national security adviser General James Jones and the former congressman Lee Hamilton. The rate for a speech is between $20,000 and $40,000 for ten minutes. Subject matter is not a concern: some speakers deliver speeches that barely mention the MEK. In recent months the Obama administration ...

Postcolonial Enchantment

Pankaj Mishra: Nadeem Aslam, 7 February 2013

The Blind Man’s Garden 
by Nadeem Aslam.
Faber, 409 pp., £18.99, February 2013, 978 0 571 28791 8
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... where, that is, those narratives aren’t assertions, following Hemingway, Mailer and James Jones, of physical and existential heroism. As always, the apparent absence of ideology merely denotes its successful concealment. Writing in 1952, Philip Rahv warned that the rapid growth of American power and wealth after the war had created an ...

All of Denmark was at his feet

John Sutherland, 12 May 1994

John Steinbeck: A Biography 
by Jay Parini.
Heinemann, 605 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 434 57492 9
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... does, somewhere between literary respectability and bestsellerdom: John O’Hara, Nelson Algren, James Jones, John Hersey. Parini declares in a fighting Afterword that answers to the Steinbeck question ‘spring to mind’. Clearly the answer which springs highest and most persistently is intellectual snobbery. Steinbeck’s low status is ascribed to ...

Skating Charm

James Wolcott: Kenneth Tynan, 13 December 2001

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan 
edited by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 439 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 7475 5418 8
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... names faded once their work slid out of print, once-prominent tastemakers such as Stark Young and James Gibbons Huneker. Tynan’s review collections have joined theirs in the second-hand stores, but he himself stays hot copy. Words aren’t enough to sustain a journalistic legend; neither are looks, photogenic as he was. ‘What makes a figure is the ...

Nothing in a Really Big Way

James Wood: Adam Mars-Jones, 24 April 2008

Pilcrow 
by Adam Mars-Jones.
Faber, 525 pp., £18.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 21703 8
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... as something that, being broken, was only fit for abuse.’ In his new novel, Pilcrow, Adam Mars-Jones slips in a quick reference to ‘One Arm’, when the narrator, a disabled boy called John Cromer, tells us that he and a schoolfriend ‘wept together over “One Arm” – Jimmy’s tears the more surprising since he knew the story so ...

Rut after Rut after Rut

Thomas Jones: Denis Johnson’s Vietnam, 29 November 2007

Tree of Smoke 
by Denis Johnson.
Picador, 614 pp., £16.99, November 2007, 978 0 330 44920 5
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... and recover what might be the remains of a missing Canadian Seventh-Day Adventist called Timothy Jones, from deep in the jungle: As they left the mesa and descended toward a creek deep in a ravine . . . there came a faint crackling from somewhere behind the next peak, and they fell under the shadow of a mass of smoke in the sky ahead of them, a black ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Not by Henry James, 23 September 2004

... the maiden’s cheek, and fell upon the faded chintz. You guessed it. Who could it be but Henry James? There would be no shame in your not recognising this as James’s work, however: it has languished in peaceful obscurity for more than 140 years, only now to have its authorship revealed by Floyd Horowitz, recently ...

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