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Year One

John Lloyd

30 January 1992
Boris Yeltsin 
by John Morrison.
Penguin, 303 pp., £8.99, November 1991, 0 14 017062 6
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The August Coup: The Truth and its Lessons 
by Mikhail Gorbachev.
HarperCollins, 127 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 9780002550444
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The future belongs to freedom 
by Eduard Shevardnadze.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 256 pp., £15, September 1991, 1 85619 105 2
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Bear-Hunting with the Politburo 
by A. Craig Copetas.
Simon and Schuster, 271 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 671 70313 7
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The Accidental Proletariat: Workers, Politics and Crisis in Gorbachev’s Russia 
by Walter Connor.
Princeton, 374 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 691 07787 8
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... because the tensions and problems are simply too great for anyone. This is in part the theme of John Morrison’s efficient and often thoughtful biography, which sets out to show that, contrary to the view held (at least until recently) by many observers and politicians in the West, Yeltsin is ‘squarely in the democrats’ camp’. He reminds us ...

Boxes of Tissues

Hilary Mantel

6 March 1997
As If 
by Blake Morrison.
Granta, 245 pp., £14.99, February 1997, 1 86207 003 2
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... Blake Morrison begins his account of the murder of James Bulger with a delicate diversion into the story of the Children’s Crusade. The year 1212: at Saint-Denis, a boy of 12 begins to preach. He has received word from God that it is the mission of Christian children to free the Holy Land from the infidel. He draws crowds, draws followers: boys and girls swarm from street and field ...
5 June 1980
The Movement: English Poetry and Fiction of the 1950s 
by Blake Morrison.
Oxford, 326 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780192122100
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The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse 1945-1980 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 299 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 19 214108 2
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... It seemed to be happening only yesterday, but Blake Morrison was born in 1950, and for him the Movement is something you have to work on in a library. So it suddenly comes to seem rather remote, as deep in the past as those files of the Spectator where he found the famous pieces by J.D. Scott and Anthony Hartley, or the scripts of John Wain’s Third Programme magazine First Reading, or copies of the Reading limited editions of Wain and Amis ...
13 May 2010
The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey 
by Robert Morrison.
Weidenfeld, 462 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 297 85279 7
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... either: after a decade of false starts, it was among the first pieces he published. Robert Morrison observes that another of his trademark habits, riding on the top of carriages rather than inside, became a vogue among the dashing ‘Oxford sparks’ of his day; but opium-eating didn’t apparently hold similar thrills for the dandy culture. What was ...

The Style It Takes

Mark Ford: John Cale

16 September 1999
What’s Welsh for Zen? The Autobiography of John Cale 
by Victor Bockris.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 7475 3668 6
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... although it seems no live recordings survive from their heyday – that is, before Lou Reed kicked John Cale out of the band, ending three years of almost symbiotic closeness. John Cale was born in the small Welsh coal town of Garnant, between Swansea and Carmarthen, in 1942. His father was a miner; his mother had worked in ...
19 July 1984
Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... future careers for them, not intended to mirror reality. For instance, his fictional ‘Peter Morrison’, the decent Conservative MP, has nothing to do with the real-life Peter Morrison MP but was inspired by boyhood memories of the real-life James Prior. The fictional ‘Peter ...
14 November 1996
Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock as candidates for the pantheon and some of the devotion to the late John Smith derives, no doubt, from a desperate endeavour to find a leader of note somewhere. Hence this book. ‘Hugh Gaitskell was the grandfather of Tony Blair’s revolution, the original Labour moderniser,’ the blurb begins. With Labour under Blair ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan

16 February 1984
The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... of story is deliberately excluded from consideration.’ It’s a well-timed question, with Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion’s advocacy of narrative in The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry being so widely and respectfully read, and well-directed too, since it clarifies what’s confused in the Penguin introduction by the editors’ simultaneous ...

Four Poems

Tom Paulin

23 May 1985
... in class and the kids feel righteous – righteous but cosy. A Walk to Pubble Shrub Gardens for John and Tina McClelland This fawn plastic box contains my archive, a ghat of paper I set single words on like a loyal wife who must turn to ash and bone out of love. It’s the grist, I lie to them, for a curt essay on the Girondins whom of course I condemn ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban

23 July 1987
Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... us – James Fenton’s ‘A German Requiem’, Anne Stevenson’s ‘Correspondences’, Blake Morrison’s ‘The Inquisitor’, Motion’s ‘Independence’, the plotty, tessellated pattern of the poems in Carol Rumens’s Direct Dialling, with its East-West love story. One sees rhyme used, as Byron used it in Don Juan, to speed the narrative; hurrying ...

Short Cuts

Matthew Beaumont: The route to Tyburn Tree

20 June 2013
... that have been deposited at Cumberland Gate. In a poem written for a BBC documentary in 1968, John Betjeman described the site as a place of martyrdom ‘trodden by unheeding feet’. The ‘greatest crime’ of all, he continued, standing on the roof of Marble Arch and speaking in the voice of a genteel, if irritable prophet, is ‘the martyrdom of ...
7 May 1987
Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism 
by John Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £15.95, March 1987, 0 297 78998 8
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The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton: 1918-40, 1945-60 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape, 752 pp., £40, January 1987, 0 224 01912 0
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... to office in the following decade, than some of their old opponents from the right. But, as John Campbell makes clear in this marvellously lucid and moving reassessment of the political career of Aneurin Bevan, the similarities with the Thirties were only skin-deep. This time, the schisms did touch the core of party purpose. Though Left and Right both ...

Labouring

Blake Morrison

1 April 1982
Continuous 
by Tony Harrison.
Rex Collings, £3.95, November 1982, 0 86036 159 4
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The Oresteia 
by Aeschylus, translated by Tony Harrison.
Rex Collings, 120 pp., £3.50, November 1981, 0 86036 178 0
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US Martial 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, £75, November 1981, 0 906427 29 0
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A Kumquat for John Keats 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, £75, November 1981, 0 906427 31 2
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... She wants more and more and more new men in her He finally finishes Anna Karenina. A Kumquat for John Keats, meanwhile, is Thribbish, repetitive (much about Harrison’s being 42) and strains both rhyme and reason: and if John Keats had only lived to be, because of extra years, in need like me, at 42 he’d help me ...

Shoulder-Shrugging

Julian Critchley

11 December 1997
Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... with Harold Macmillan. I thought him the most influential of Tory backbenchers, more so than Major Morrison, the bucolic chairman of the 1922 Committee, or buffoons like Gerald Nabarro. After the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, when Macmillan was panicked by a typical Rab Butler indiscretion into sacking the dead wood in his Cabinet, Deedes was brought in to ...
7 May 1981
... comfort, but a lot of it very attractive. I came to the reviews with no expert knowledge of what John Sutherland calls ‘the fiction industry’ and ‘the reviewing establishment’. His two excellent books, Fiction and the Fiction Industry (1978) and the recently published Best-Sellers *, have helped me greatly.Other People was published on 5 ...

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