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Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones

1 March 1984
Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... James Wilcox’s charming comedy is set in rural Louisiana, among people who read the Bible in an engagingly amateurish way, associating religion with the conventions about drinking and dancing enforced by their anxious parents, and sometimes tempted to ‘modernise’ their lives, while still seeking God’s guidance ...

Here she is

Frank Kermode: Zadie Smith

6 October 2005
On Beauty 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 446 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 241 14293 8
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... been noticed, has on occasion a certain peremptoriness of manner. He brings his Schlegels and Wilcoxes together simply by having the latter family come to live almost next door. The story requires them to be in contact, so he arranges it without fussing about probability. Likewise Smith, wanting her two professors, the heads of her opposed families, to be ...

Outfoxing Hangman

Thomas Jones: David Mitchell

11 May 2006
Black Swan Green 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 371 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 340 82279 1
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... Nick Yew, Gilbert Swinyard, Nicholas Briar, Floyd Chaceley, Neal Brose, Pete Redmarley, Ross Wilcox, Gary Drake, ‘Squelch’, Grant Burch, Philip Phelps, Lee Biggs, the Tookey brothers, Ant Little, Darren Croome. There are too many to take in, but almost all of them feature more or less prominently later in the novel, and one of the difficulties of ...

Fame

Ian Hamilton

2 July 1981
Charles Charming’s Challenges on the Pathway to the Throne 
by Clive James.
Cape, 103 pp., £4.95, June 1981, 0 224 01954 6
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... The first ‘poems’ by Clive James I can remember seeing were in fact song lyrics written to go with the music of Pete Atkin. I call them ‘poems’ because that’s what Clive wished them to be called. In fact, I’m not sure what they were: highbrow lyrics or lowbrow verse? Set to music, they sounded more or less OK, but ‘on the page’ they seemed sentimental and pretentious – endearing if you happened to like Clive, but almost embarrassingly overanxious to establish that the pop mode could accommodate a finely-educated literary talent ...

Bombshells

Mark Hertsgaard

5 August 1993
On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Site 
by Michele Stenehjem Gerber.
Nebraska, 312 pp., £33.25, January 1993, 0 8032 2145 2
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The Nuclear Peninsula 
by Françoise Zonabend, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Cambridge, 138 pp., £19.95, April 1993, 0 521 41321 4
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... nor its three main American competitors – General Electric, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox – had had a new domestic order since 1974. The executive was bemoaning this tragedy when I suggested that part of the reason people were uneasy about nuclear energy was that no one had yet figured out what to do with the waste it generated. The ...

Come back if you can

Christopher Tayler: Jhumpa Lahiri

23 October 2013
The Lowland 
by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2013, 978 1 4088 2811 3
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... Bengali tradition: ‘“You can always name him after yourself, or one of your ancestors,” Mr Wilcox suggests, admitting that he is actually Howard Wilcox III. “It’s a fine tradition. The kings of France and England did it,” he adds.’) As for tastefulness, I can see how some might find her stories too perfectly ...

Superchild

John Bayley

6 September 1984
The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... disappears behind them.’ Yet she had no self-confidence, none of the lordly conviction of Henry James or James Joyce; she awaited both reviews and the comments of her friends in a perfect pathos of fear and trembling, and each new attempt at a book was wholly tentative and unsure. Her ideas were all in the form of an ...
7 May 1987
John Galsworthy’s Life and Art: An Alien’s Fortress 
by James Gindin.
Macmillan, 616 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 333 40812 8
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... Galsworthy stood almost alone in representing the constituency of the philistine bourgeois, a Wilcox rather than a Schlegel or even a Leonard Bast. Or so it can easily seem. James Gindin, however, seeing the case in quite another light, challengingly subtitles his biography ‘An Alien’s Fortress’ and suggests at ...

Fiction and E.M. Forster

Frank Kermode: At the Cost of Life

10 May 2007
... of fiction.’ This remark probably arose from his habitual disrespect for, or worry about, Henry James. The Ambassadors is given more attention in Aspects of the Novel than any other novel, except possibly Gide’s Les Faux-Monnayeurs, though the intention is in neither case to praise or to admire; and the Commonplace Book contains mildly disparaging remarks ...

I want to boom

Mark Ford: Pound Writes Home

24 May 2012
Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895-1929 
edited by Mary de Rachewiltz, David Moody and Joanna Moody.
Oxford, 737 pp., £39, January 2011, 978 0 19 958439 0
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... from St Elizabeths in 1958, and then, in 1967, his extensive and fascinating correspondence with James Joyce. But it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that the archive floodgates really opened. These decades saw the appearance of volumes individually devoted to Pound’s letters not only to fellow writers such as Wyndham Lewis, E.E. Cummings, Ford Madox ...

Sticky Wicket

Charles Nicholl: Colonel Fawcett’s Signet Ring

28 May 2009
The Lost City of Z 
by David Grann.
Simon and Schuster, 339 pp., £16.99, February 2009, 978 1 84737 436 3
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... also carried handwritten copies of poems, including an extract from ‘Solitude’ by Ella Wheeler Wilcox: There is room in the halls of pleasure For a long and lordly train, But one by one we must all file on Through the narrow aisles of pain. The lines seem appropriate in their mix of grit and sentimentality. ‘Sentimentality’ was not a word that would ...
16 March 2000
Morgan: American Financier 
by Jean Strouse.
Harvill, 816 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781860463556
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... Strouse quotes the passage in Howards End where Helen Schlegel explains the character of Mr Wilcox to Leonard Bast, the bank clerk he has inadvertently ruined: ‘There are two kinds of people – our kind, who live straight from the middle of their heads, and the other kind who can’t, because their heads have no middle. They can’t say “I”. They ...

Freedom to Tango

Michael Wood: Contemporary Indian English novels

19 April 2001
Babu Fictions: Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Novels 
by Tabish Khair.
Oxford, 407 pp., £21.50, March 2001, 0 19 565296 7
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An Obedient Father 
by Akhil Sharma.
Faber, 282 pp., £9.99, January 2001, 0 571 20673 5
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The Death of Vishnu 
by Manil Suri.
Bloomsbury, 329 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 0 7475 5270 3
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The Glass Palace 
by Amitav Ghosh.
HarperCollins, 551 pp., £16.99, July 2000, 0 00 226102 2
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... certainly speak English (go to a convent school, drink whisky, drive a Rover, read Ella Wheeler Wilcox, although they don’t each of them do all of those things), but they don’t speak only English, and it’s not clear when they switch languages. When the priest recites his prayers at the ceremony or tells the boatman to ‘Turn back now, it’s ...
4 April 1991
Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... sad, remote father, the brothers, particularly Sande, and his wife Arloie, Reuben Kadish, Roger Wilcox, Rita Benton. They write with respect about Lee Krasner and without parti pris. My impression is that the book is written with justice. Many of their witnesses are still very much alive. The book – which in certain passages could be mistaken for a ...

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