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Monster Doss House

Iain Sinclair, 24 November 1988

The Grass Arena 
by John Healy.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.95, October 1988, 0 571 15170 1
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... violence: it is a survivalist world, bleak and uncompromising – the world of competitive chess. John Healy arrived there, without papers or proof of identity, a drowning man coming up for the last time. It was his only way of escaping from the slow-motion suicide of alcoholism, and he took it with manic relish. His book, The Grass Arena, is a ...

An Octopus at the Window

Terry Eagleton: Dermot Healy, 19 May 2011

Long Time, No See 
by Dermot Healy.
Faber, 438 pp., £12.99, April 2011, 978 0 571 21074 9
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... After publishing a prize-winning volume of short stories and an accomplished early novel, Dermot Healy won the plaudits of the literary world with A Goat’s Song, one of the most powerful pieces of fiction to emerge from Ireland in the past few decades. It was published in 1994, just as the Celtic Tiger was starting to roar, but belonged in spirit to an earlier, less well-heeled and self-assured society ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce, 22 October 1992

Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... another high-toned writer, I started journalistic life on the Express, initially the Sunday in John Junor’s long days, then the Daily under Roy Wright. Beaverbrook had been dead by then for ten years. The amiable son, who touchingly refused the title in a spirit of unaffected and perhaps warranted humility, reigned rather than ruled in his place and was ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín, 10 June 1993

Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... mid-Sixties we began to make a swap in the evening and thus became acquainted with the writing of John Healy in the Backbencher column of that newspaper. He wrote every week about a new breed of Fianna Fail politician. He wrote with wit and irreverence, but he wrote from the inside and he conferred a huge glamour on the young ministers in Lemass’s ...

Dreadful Sentiments

Tom Paulin, 3 April 1986

The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats. Vol. I: 1865-1895 
edited by John Kelly and Eric Domville.
Oxford, 548 pp., £22.50, January 1986, 0 19 812679 4
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... will enable new writing, new politics, unblemished by Irishness, but securely Irish.’ Opening John Kelly and Eric Domville’s scrupulous and magnificent edition of Yeats’s letters, I readied myself to take a sling-shot at the great Cuchulain – the impulse dissolved in helpless love, chortles, delight. The old boy, I realised, has managed here his ...

Representing Grandma

Steven Rose, 7 July 1994

The Astounding Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul 
by Francis Crick.
Simon and Schuster, 317 pp., £16.99, May 1994, 9780671711580
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... recent manifestation a feud with the then director of the National Institutes of Health, Bernadine Healy, which resulted in his abrupt departure from his position as the head of the Human Genome Project. Crick was a decade older than Watson, in his mid-thirties at the time of their partnership, and had moved from a wartime background in engineering into ...

As a Button to a Coat

John Lloyd: Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov, 20 August 1998

Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin’s Russia 
by Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov, translated by Ann Healy.
Westview, 195 pp., $30, September 1997, 0 8133 2390 8
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... Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov spent eight years, from the late Twenties to the mid-Thirties, on the Solovetsky Islands: part of the time in a monastery fortress where, as we now know, the punishment included lashing prisoners to trees in summer to be eaten to death by mosquitoes, or tying them spreadeagled on heavy logs and letting them be crushed to death as the logs were rolled downhill ...

Glasgow über Alles

Julian Loose, 8 July 1993

Swing Hammer Swing! 
by Jeff Torrington.
Secker, 416 pp., £8.99, August 1992, 0 436 53120 8
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Looking for the Possible Dance 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 436 23321 5
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The Lights Below 
by Carl MacDougall.
Secker, 254 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 9780436270796
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... of small publishers such as Polygon and Canongate, writers like Alasdair Gray, Agnes Owens, Thomas Healy, Tom Leonard, James Kelman and Janice Galloway have found the city a congenial location for their life and work, and their success is encouraging others. Of course, Glasgow has always had its writers. Torrington’s late Sixties hero is himself a ...

De Mortuis

Christopher Driver, 28 June 1990

The Ruffian on the Stair: Reflection on Death 
edited by Rosemary Dinnage.
Viking, 291 pp., £14.99, April 1990, 0 670 82763 0
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Death, Ritual and Bereavement 
edited by Ralph Houlbrooke.
Routledge, 250 pp., £35, October 1990, 0 415 01165 5
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In the Face of Death 
by Peter Noll, translated by Hans Noll.
Viking, 254 pp., £15.99, April 1990, 0 670 80703 6
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... corrective shin-kick there to a hagiographer (Vanessa Redgrave’s recent funeral oration on Gerry Healy, the Lothario of the Trots, provoked widespread merriment in subsequent columns). I am proud to contribute my claw to stripping dead convention from the bones of bogus reverence, as a culture vulture, verb sap. But the development is a product of media ...

Poped

Hugo Young, 24 November 1994

The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe 
by Colm Tóibín.
Cape, 296 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 03767 6
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... the best room in an overbooked hotel. In Poland for the papal visit in 1991, he’s so moved by John Paul II’s demeanour, conducting a six-hour open-air ceremony, that he seems to get close to re-conversion. ‘There was something about the singing, the colours and the beauty of the words which reminded me of strange, hard-won moments of pure contentment ...

Scientific Antlers

Steven Shapin: Fraud in the Lab, 4 March 1999

The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science and Character 
by Daniel Kevles.
Norton, 509 pp., £21, October 1998, 0 393 04103 4
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... scientific fraud-busters Walter Stewart and Ned Feder and their patron, the Democratic Congressman John Dingell. For the excellent Linda Tripp with her concealed tape-recorder read Imanishi-Kari’s young Irish-American co-worker at MIT, Margot O’Toole, and the 17 pages of laboratory entries she decided to copy from a colleague’s notebook – just in case ...

O brambles, chain me too

Tom Paulin: Life and Vowels of Andrew Marvell, 25 November 1999

World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 294 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 316 64863 9
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Marvell and Liberty 
edited by Warren Chernaik and Martin Dzelzainis.
Macmillan, 365 pp., £47.50, July 1999, 0 333 72585 9
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Andrew Marvell 
edited by Thomas Healy.
Longman, 212 pp., £12.99, September 1998, 0 582 21910 8
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... political activity and lobbying, but was a bad speaker, a reserved, cautious, taciturn man who, John Aubrey noted, ‘had not a generall acquaintance’. He lived in meagre lodgings in central London, and appears to have had a close friendship with Prince Rupert which, according to an early Marvell editor, Thomas Cooke, meant that when it was unsafe for him ...

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