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Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig, 20 June 1985

Crusoe’s Daughter 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11526 4
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The Tie that Binds 
by Kent Haruf.
Joseph, 246 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 7181 2561 4
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Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife 
by Hilary Bailey.
Virago, 265 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780860683469
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A Fine Excess 
by Jane Ellison.
Secker, 183 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 14601 0
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Victory over Japan 
by Ellen Gilchrist.
Faber, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 571 13446 7
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... nor offshoots, but playful and original tributes to the work that’s set them off. With Jane Gardam’s latest novel the background book, and enriching ingredient, is Robinson Crusoe. Mrs Gardam is not new to the practice. The Summer after the Funeral (1973) has a heroine (aged 16 – it’s ostensibly a children’s book) who feels an affinity ...

Phenomenologically Fucked

Alex Abramovich: Percival Everett, 19 November 2009

I Am Not Sidney Poitier 
by Percival Everett.
Graywolf, 234 pp., $16, June 2009, 978 1 55597 527 2
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... curly hair, wide nose and slave ancestors. But that’s just the way it is. Thelonius ‘Monk’ Ellison, in Percival Everett’s Erasure Race is America’s most enduring fiction. And for all the relieved, Obama-era sighing over America’s new, nominally post-racial century, that fiction can be infuriatingly hard to shake, or look past, or write one’s ...

My Friend Sam

Jane Miller, 16 August 1990

The rock cried out 
by Ellen Douglas.
Virago, 303 pp., £5.99, June 1990, 1 85381 140 8
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Can’t quit you, baby 
by Ellen Douglas.
Virago, 256 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 1 85381 149 1
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... of Christianity celebrated in Southern churches. There must be ways in which writers like Ralph Ellison and Alice Walker are bound to acknowledge their indebtedness to white Southern writing, as to its European sources. If The Color Purple may be read as a novel about the acquiring of literacy, becoming a reader and a writer, and the meaning of this for ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... notion that replying to letters was nothing if not a complete and utter waste of time. To Ralph Ellison: ‘I’ve never enjoyed writing letters. Vasiliki says that Isaac, whose journals she took after his death, had some uncomplimentary things to say about the way I answered letters. I deserve them. There is some wickedness hidden here and I ought to root ...

Rat Poison

David Bromwich, 17 October 1996

Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Beacon, 143 pp., $20, February 1996, 0 8070 4108 4
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... between Elizabeth Bennet and her father is a wide one, in the light of the moral intelligence Jane Austen cares about. This is a truth felt by both characters, by others in the book and by its readers; felt not as a violation of the democratic contract, but as a fact of the novel’s life. The distance between Elizabeth and her mother is even wider. The ...

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