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Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford, 1 June 2000

Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... as usual in incendiary mood, poured scorn on him and his associates. ‘You and Mr Conrad and Mr James and all those old fellows are done,’ he was to be heard insisting. ‘Exploded! ... Fichus! ... No good! ... Finished!’ Lewis’s beef was with literary ‘impressionism’: with novels which sought intricately to render the movements, at once furtive ...

Making them think

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 September 1986

G.K. Chesterton 
by Michael Ffinch.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £16, June 1986, 0 297 78858 2
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... they are capital fun. And fun is very important to Chesterton, who would heartily have endorsed James Joyce’s in risu Veritas. ‘The stars are funny,’ we learn from an essay in All Things Considered, ‘because they give birth to life, and life gives birth to fun.’ If you have, let us say, a theory about man, and if you can only prove it by talking ...

Facts Schmacts

John Sutherland, 16 February 1989

The Facts: A Novelist’s Autobiography 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 328 pp., £12.95, February 1989, 0 224 02593 7
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... break into truth-telling. The Facts is no kvetch. If anything it’s surprisingly (suspiciously) mellow. Especially in the early sections, it recalls Woody Allen’s over-tenderised Radio Days. And it is certainly not a transcript of what goes on between Roth and his therapist. It is the least bannable of any book he has written. No organisation of ...

Whisky and Soda Man

Thomas Jones: J.G. Ballard, 10 April 2008

Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton – An Autobiography 
by J.G. Ballard.
Fourth Estate, 278 pp., £14.99, February 2008, 978 0 00 727072 9
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... and the pace sometimes shows here, but that’s no bad thing. There is an off-the-cuff, unadorned, mellow tone to the book, which is occasionally repetitive but never dull. The raconteur always has a few more stories in him to tell. This story begins at the beginning (‘I was born in Shanghai General Hospital on 15 November 1930’), goes on until it reaches ...

Motorised Youth Rebellion

Andy Beckett: Radical LA, 18 February 2021

Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties 
by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener.
Verso, 788 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78478 022 7
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... with a beautiful coast and mountains, enviable climate and extreme inequality – than the mellow paradise of southern Californian myth. By the 1960s, decades of economic growth and a long influx of people from less booming places had made LA one of the most multiracial cities in America. But a white ascendancy was maintained through a mass of official ...


James Meek: In Athens, 1 December 2011

... tis kaltses!’ – ‘To the socks!’ Now he is saying goodbye, reading his lines in a mellow voice, anticipating the coalition government that is due to replace him. But something’s wrong with the coalition-making machinery. He doesn’t name the new PM. Greece will go to bed leaderless. I’m listening to Papandreou in Gazi, a fashionable ...

Of the Mule Breed

David Bromwich: Robert Southey, 21 May 1998

Robert Southey: A Life 
by Mark Storey.
Oxford, 405 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 19 811246 7
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... of Southey, it seems a case of words being heated by the breath of other words. ‘How does time mellow down our opinions!’ Southey observed – in 1810 or so, one supposes, but the year was 1796. He was capable of also saying then: ‘I do hunger & thirst for sedition.’ Early in his career, poetic audacity and political principle had grown thoroughly ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... Co opened in 1919. In the window were editions of Shakespeare (of course), Chaucer, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce and copies of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (Monnier’s favourite English-language book). On the walls were photographs of Oscar Wilde, drawings by William Blake and examples of Walt Whitman’s early writings. Émigré writers and French ...

No Intention of Retreating

Lorna Scott Fox: Martha Gellhorn’s Wars, 2 September 2004

Martha Gellhorn: A Life 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Vintage, 550 pp., £8.99, June 2004, 0 09 928401 4
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... on behalf of the ‘voiceless and poor’, and for this, not ‘“fine writing", the beautiful mellow phrases and the carefully chosen strange words’, but a ‘faultless carpentry’ was required. The ‘artificial and dead’ Proust was the epitome of everything she loathed about high-flown literature, and she read mostly thrillers throughout her ...


Paul Theroux: Out of Sir Vidia’s Shadow, 24 February 2022

... Proust, Trollope, Dickens, Shakespeare and certain Latin poets (Martial, Horace). Of the King James version of the Bible, he said: ‘It’s frightfully good.’ Early on he praised the work of Derek Walcott, who had once been a friend of his, and recited a whole poem, ‘As John to Patmos’, from memory. But later he rubbished him, and Walcott replied ...

How to Grow a Weetabix

James Meek: Farms and Farmers, 16 June 2016

... who want to farm. Some see their patrimony disintegrate before they have a chance to inherit it. James Lake did. His grandfather started a mushroom-growing business in Hertfordshire and moved it to Little Fransham in Norfolk, a few miles south of the Agnew and Townshend farms and the old airfield, in the 1960s. By the time Lake was born in the 1970s the ...


Colm Tóibín: Sex Lives of the Castrati, 8 October 2015

The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds 
by Martha Feldman.
California, 454 pp., £40, March 2015, 978 0 520 27949 0
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Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani 
by Roger Freitas.
Cambridge, 452 pp., £22.99, May 2014, 978 1 107 69610 5
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... uncanny!’ Another writer wrote of a castrato voice that it was ‘so soft, and ravishingly mellow, that nothing can better represent it than the Flute-stops of some Organs’, which themselves were ‘not unlike the gentle Fallings of Water’. Nonetheless, as Feldman writes, ‘we still lack access to the sound of the castrato’s voice, save some ...

An UnAmerican in New York

Lewis Nkosi: The Harlem Renaissance, 24 August 2000

Winds Can Wake Up the Dead: An Eric Walrond Reader 
edited by Louis Parascandola.
Wayne State, 350 pp., $24.95, December 1998, 0 8143 2709 5
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... is that until the art of the black folk compels recognition they will not be rated as human.’ James Weldon Johnson, founder of the Daily American and author of The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, concurred. ‘The status of the Negro in the United States,’ he wrote, ‘is more a question of mental attitude toward the race than actual conditions. And ...

Issues of Truth and Invention

Colm Tóibín: Francis Stuart’s wartime broadcasts, 4 January 2001

The Wartime Broadcasts of Francis Stuart 
edited by Brendan Barrington.
Lilliput, 192 pp., £25, September 2000, 1 901866 54 8
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... at that time in Dundrum in the suburbs of Dublin and he had settled, it seemed, into an extremely mellow and happy old age. He still wrote novels and followed public events, but he exuded a sort of dreaminess, loving cats and rabbits, remaining quiet-spoken and smiling and charming and hospitable. He preferred silence to small talk and solitude to gossip, but ...

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