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Pulp

Scott Bradfield

14 December 1995
Jim Thompson Omnibus: The Getaway, The Killer inside Me, The Grifters, Pop. 1280 
Picador, 570 pp., £7.99, November 1995, 3 303 34288 1Show More
Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson 
by Robert Polito.
Knopf, 543 pp., $30, October 1995, 0 394 58407 4
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... Jim Thompson never actually claimed to write capital-L Literature, but today, nearly twenty years after his death, many of his admirers are making the claim for him. Born in a sheriff’s apartment over the Caddo County Jail in Oklahoma in 1906, Thompson, like many good American boys, grew up to be a lot like his father ...
24 November 1988
The Grass Arena 
by John Healy.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.95, October 1988, 0 571 15170 1
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... from her black pimps. He is offering us that species of dead-end fate-tale perfected by the late Jim Thompson, himself – like so many journeymen of hard-boiled or proletarian literature – no stranger to the bottle. The liberal press have tended to receive this book as startling intelligence brought back from some impenetrable other world. It is ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman

19 March 1998
Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... will chase without worrying too much what he is writing about. One of those elephantine Hunter S. Thompson, self-cannibalising careers that define the point where it all went wrong, where the floating signifier began to get above itself and spit like a snake. Penman’s value lies in the way he occupies this clerical post, as reporter, commentator, without ...

Isle of Dogs

Iain Sinclair

10 May 1990
Pit Bull 
by Scott Ely.
Penguin, 218 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 14 012033 5
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... but I was left, at the finish, with a feeling of nostalgia for the psychopathic ‘humour’ of a Jim Thompson or the more exuberant culture spread of Charles Willeford’s Cockfighter. Fate should hurt, it should embrace more than a spoiled romance. The affair at the heart of this novel must be with ‘Alligator’, the stinking pit bull, the sunken mud ...
18 March 1999
Life’s Other Secret: The New Mathematics of the Living World 
by Ian Stewart.
Penguin, 320 pp., £20, June 1998, 0 7139 9161 5
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... was echoed a century after her (fictitious) life by the unorthodox biologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, whose mathematical investigations of the living world were collected in On Growth and Form, published in 1917. Although they have excited the admiration of some important thinkers, including Alan Turing and the biologists John Tyler Bonner and Stephen ...
1 September 1983
Pluto’s Republic 
by Peter Medawar.
Oxford, 351 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 1 921777 26 5
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... birds and fresh pastures of the fields of Elysium rather than in Pluto’s republic. Such are Jim Watson, despite his childish understanding of science; J.B.S. Haldane, despite his political ineptitude; and D’Arcy Thompson. But more importantly, Medawar uses unscientific ideas to explore his own philosophy of ...
26 September 1991
Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Murray, 320 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 7195 4910 8
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Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper 
by Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan.
Oxford, 218 pp., £30, August 1991, 9780198117858
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... by the sea striking her astern or amidships?’ That was one of the easier ones. When Captain Thompson – ‘motionless, remote and enigmatical’ – piled on the agony with fog, a lee-shore and a lost anchor cable, Conrad explained that he would ‘back the bow anchor and tail the heaviest hawser on board on the end of the chain before letting go, and ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair

22 December 1994
Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... without breaking the skin. Red Fog has all the modest desperation of the best American pulps, Jim Thompson, David Goodis. Depression literature. Orphan books written to be abandoned. Dream logic without the luxury of revision. Even the cover illustration is pastiche Gold Medal: it doesn’t illustrate anything in the book, but gloats over a top-heavy ...
5 February 2015
A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... its social structure. Lord Lucan and Veronica Duncan on their wedding day, 28 November 1963. Thompson’s book is a mixture of all of these and the result is persuasive and revealing in some parts, absurd and tasteless in others. Yet it is a compelling read. The story doesn’t pall because it has become a myth and myths change with time. As the Lucan ...
21 January 2016
... under the uninspiring aegis of the British Communist Party. The founders of NLR were Edward Thompson, the great radical historian of rural and working-class England, and the Jamaican social thinker Stuart Hall, who would later become known as one of the founders of cultural studies. The Young Turks had only affection and respect for Hall, but relations ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops

4 June 2014
Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... whom one has been in open conflict.’ In an essay published in the New Statesman in 1978, E.P. Thompson took a different view, imagining Pincher as ‘a kind of official urinal in which, side by side, high officials of MI5 and MI6, sea lords, permanent under-secretaries, Lord George-Brown, chiefs of the air staff, nuclear scientists, Lord Wigg and ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman

15 July 2015
...  ...

Triermain Eliminate

Chauncey Loomis

9 July 1987
Native Stones: A Book about Climbing 
by David Craig.
Secker, 213 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 11350 3
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... rock face, trying to pull himself up onto it. Expeditionary climbers Andrew Harvard and Todd Thompson would agree with Craig on the early development of the climbing instinct: in Mountain of Storms they remark that climbing finds its origins in the sandbox. But does the presence of such a natural instinct justify a father luring his own children to the ...

It’s a riot

Michael Ignatieff

20 August 1981
‘Civil Disturbances’: Hansard, Vol. 8, Nos 143-144, 16 July 1981 – 17 July 1981 
HMSO, £80Show More
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... which triggers riot. Historical analogy with the 18th-century food riots, examined by E.P. Thompson, suggests that explanation should look beyond conditions to the specific legitimising notion or incident which gives reason to riot. In Toxteth, for example, it was not just any arrest which started the trouble but the arrest of the son of a Jamaican ...

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