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Excessive Bitters

Jenny Diski: The blind man who went around the world, 7 September 2006

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveller 
by Jason Roberts.
Simon and Schuster, 382 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7432 3966 0
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... independent. Choosing to sit on her bed when the light of the world was dimming was not an option. Jason Roberts describes something of the same behaviour in James Holman who, in 1810, suddenly went blind at the age of 25: Once hope of a cure is extinguished in the newly blind adult, there is typically a period of self-mourning, in which the individual ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... beer once the liquid has warmed up. Just as he was pondering these things, the phone went. It was Jason Jenson, known to the police as Wet-Dog, his old friend from Brown, former drug-pusher, cat-burglar, mail fraudster and insurance scam artist, one-time inmate of Lorton penitentiary, now a computer whizz kid with EkaSystems Inc, and earning at least half a ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal, 3 February 2000

Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... fleas. The portly, senatorial Vidal who does cameo appearances in cinematic claptrap such as Bob Roberts and With Honours (where his character was upstaged by a wise bum played by Joe Pesci – faux Hollywood populism at its worst) is a stationary ham with none of the Zorro slash of the duellist in days of yore. The later chapters of Kaplan’s biography ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... opportunism and iron-butt single-mindedness have provided material for such distinguished hams as Jason Robards, Rip Torn, Philip Baker Hall and Anthony Hopkins. Feeney contends that Nixon had a unique capacity among US presidents for constructing narratives around himself. He renames Nixon’s memoir, Six Crises, ‘Six Star Turns’, and notes that its ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose, 16 February 2017

... inaugural address carried the stamp of hot ambition even in its salutation: ‘Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.’ What were the people of the world doing here? It has been conjectured that Trump was greeting a blood-brotherhood of populari ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... why were the firefighters not coming up with breathing equipment and helping them down? Why indeed.Jason Garcia, Jessica’s cousin, lived in a neighbouring block and when he saw the tower was on fire he called Ramiro, Jessica’s dad. ‘We have been evacuated,’ Ramiro said. ‘I’m here with Adriana and Melanie’ – Jessica’s mother and older sister ...

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