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Masters of Art

John Sutherland

18 December 1980
Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... author when I say that one could not wish it much longer than the accomplished novella she has given us. By an accident of the publishing season, Tennant’s morsel of national whimsy coincides with JamesMichener’s brick-sized The Covenant. At 873 pages (costing a mere £7.95 – compare Alice fell’s 124 for £5.50), this can claim to be the only Great American South African novel. Michener’s ...

World’s End

John Sutherland

1 October 1987
The Day of Creation 
by J.G. Ballard.
Gollancz, 254 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 575 04152 8
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The Playmaker 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 310 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 340 34154 8
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In the Skin of a Lion 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Secker, 244 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 436 34009 7
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The House of Hospitalities 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 184 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 670 81501 2
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... celebrates’ is not the word) the bicentenary of the founding of the English colony in January 1788. It is the kind of subject that would inspire a less devious civilisation-chronicler like JamesMichener to epic slabs of narrative and at least two thousand pages, sweeping us from the formation of the continental land mass to Paul Hogan’s amber nectar ads. But Keneally habitually sidles ...
28 September 1989
The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... but necessary to the full understanding of fanaticism. But Shakespeare will have difficulty with British readers like myself – the majority, I suspect – for whom Peru is an unknown country. JamesMichener could brief us in a heavy-handed tutorial prelude on South American politics. But Shakespeare has chosen an artful form of narrative that cannot carry any great burden of exposition. I wish ...

Tacky Dress

Dale Peck

22 February 1996
Like People in History: A Gay American Epic 
by Felice Picano.
Viking, 512 pp., $23.95, July 1995, 0 670 86047 6
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How Long Has This Been Going On? 
by Ethan Mordden.
Villard, 590 pp., $25, April 1995, 0 679 41529 7
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The Facts of Life 
by Patrick Gale.
Flamingo, 511 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 602 24522 2
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Flesh and Blood 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 9780241135150
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... an end, and for a population looking to replace a god it doesn’t really believe in but unable to afford a therapist, a $4.95 paperback helps fill the gap. Think of Kathy Bates in Misery, breaking James Caan’s ankles, tying him to a desk, forcing him to resurrect in one novel the character he had killed in another; think of the suicide attempts of teenage girls when Robbie left Take That. Bates is ...

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