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Fairyland

Bruce Bawer, 2 May 1985

Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald 
by James Mellow.
Souvenir, 569 pp., £15.95, February 1985, 0 285 65001 7
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Home before Dark: A Personal Memoir of John Cheever 
by Susan Cheever.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £10.95, January 1985, 0 297 78376 9
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... letters, screenplays, notebooks and minor stories, but written Brobdingnagian lives of John O’Hara and James Gould Cozzens), produced a sloppy, simple-minded, adoring doorstop of a biography entitled Some Sort of Epic Grandeur. André Le Vot, a French scholar, followed in 1983 with a graceful English translation of his stately, sensitive and ...

It’s him, Eddie

Gary Indiana: Carrère’s Limonov, 23 October 2014

Limonov: A Novel 
by Emmanuel Carrère, translated by John Lambert.
Allen Lane, 340 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84614 820 0
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... he’s been spending his days writing in Central Park. Adventitiously, he becomes the lover of a Sutton Place hostess who turns out to be the live-in maid; when she leaves him for a boyfriend in California, the fabulously rich actual owner of the place hires him as a butler. This leads to an encounter with Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whom he despises, but who’s ...

Pissing on Pedestrians

Owen Bennett-Jones: A Great Unravelling, 1 April 2021

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell 
by John Preston.
Viking, 322 pp., £18.99, February, 978 0 241 38867 9
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... once he made that choice, he was whole-hearted. He learned English from a female tobacconist in Sutton Coldfield and etiquette from an upper-middle-class nurse. He ended up with a plummy accent, a collection of bow ties and the habit of drinking tea from a bone china cup. For many years he denied his origins: he told the Jewish Chronicle he wasn’t Jewish ...

Smocks

Rosemary Hill, 5 December 1991

Gertrude Jekyll 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 323 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 670 82788 6
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People’s Parks 
by Hazel Conway.
Cambridge, 287 pp., £49.50, August 1991, 0 521 39070 2
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The History of Garden Design: The Western Tradition from the Renaissance to the Present Day 
edited by Monique Mosser and Georges Teyssot.
Thames and Hudson, 543 pp., £45, May 1991, 0 500 01511 2
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... Gertrude Jekyll lived to see the first waves of the tide of gentility that swept over Surrey until John Betjeman could not look at one of Miss Jekyll’s beloved rhododendrons without thinking of a stockbroker. Less intellectual, in many ways less effective than Morris, she was, nevertheless, in one sense nearer the heart of the issue. In her work as a garden ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... Shortly after the Canary Wharf bomb, John Major, speaking in the House of Commons, said: ‘As for the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA, I think that they are both members one of another.’ Sinn Fein, he continued, would now have to decide whether it wanted to be a constitutional party or continue as a front for the IRA ...

In Memory of Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois

Rosemary Hill: Where is Bohemia?, 6 March 2003

Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts 
by Elizabeth Wilson.
Tauris, 288 pp., £11.99, October 2002, 1 86064 782 0
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Quentin & Philip 
by Andrew Barrow.
Macmillan, 559 pp., £18.99, November 2002, 0 333 78051 5
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... Crisp, who began life as Denis Pratt, found his way to bohemia from the Pooterland of Egmont Road, Sutton. O’Connor spent a significant part of his tumultuous life in Dorking, a fact which the local historian June Spong was understandably disinclined to believe when Barrow approached her for his research. Mrs Spong thought O’Connor’s memories ‘mostly ...

Disgrace under Pressure

Andrew O’Hagan: Lad mags, 3 June 2004

Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men's Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men’s Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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... hitmen (Brian ‘The Milkman’ Wright, ‘during his drug-dealing days he always delivered’; John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer, once ‘one of Britain’s richest men, owning a fleet of private planes, helicopters, boats and cars’), and every few pages there’s a soap star in her knickers, usually followed by a report, written with barely contained ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian, 7 July 1988

The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... and forth as Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker do in The Spanish Armada. The first page shows Sir John Hawkins writing a dispatch to Walsingham dated from on board the Victory in the North Sea on 10 August 1588. Somewhere to leeward, in spite of the fierce running battle of Gravelines two days before, there were still great bodies of disciplined Spanish ...

Wrath of the Centurions

Max Hastings: My Lai, 25 January 2018

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent into Darkness 
by Howard Jones.
Oxford, 504 pp., £22.99, June 2017, 978 0 19 539360 6
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... some context for the subsequent doings of Lieutenant William Calley and his comrades. Adviser Mike Sutton one day landed in a Huey helicopter in a Delta hamlet where a limp figure was hanging from ropes lashed to a tree – the village chief, disembowelled during the night by Vietcong guerrillas. His wife had been less artistically murdered, their son ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... wound.’Gardner’s book was sent to the publishers in November 1939, and like the excavation at Sutton Hoo earlier that year, must have seemed an almost quixotic gesture of faith in permanence and continuity at a time when general destruction was in prospect and alabaster tombs and Saxon burial ships were hardly top priorities.26 August. Switch on the ...

Follow the Money

David Conn, 30 August 2012

... and that agents are entitled to their share. It was a shock in 1995 when the centre-forward Chris Sutton signed for Blackburn Rovers at £10,000 a week. Now that seems quaint beside the £198,000 a week Manchester City pay the Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez. Clubs have consistently overspent, whatever their revenues, on the wages of players who might keep ...

Musical Chairs with Ribbentrop

Bee Wilson: Nancy Astor, 20 December 2012

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor 
by Adrian Fort.
Cape, 378 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 224 09016 2
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... Waldorf’s colossal wealth and the fact that he preceded her as the Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton. In fact, she already had experience of doorstepping: ‘For 11 years, I helped my husband with his work in Plymouth. I found out the wrongs and he tried to right them.’ The idea of Nancy standing only arose when Waldorf’s father, William Astor, died ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... sweatshop version of Vivienne Westwood. There are jokey names (Page and Turner for a publisher, John Elton for an American literary agent with a disfiguring hair transplant) and passages of broad pastiche, such as this from a novel about Shakespeare: ‘“Fye, Will,” said Lucretia, arching backwards and pulling William towards her, “keep thy wit for ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Who’s in charge?, 7 May 2015

... paper ‘Chain Effects: The Impact of Academy Chains on Low-Income Students’ (2014), the Sutton Trust found that both Ark and Harris seem good at closing the gaps you often find in attainment data between advantaged and disadvantaged children, a finding that echoes work done on the best of the US charter schools, which appear to do notably well by ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... building, a 16th-century revision of the 13th-century church founded by the Knights of St John. The Hole is a statement and it is properly capitalised. The labourers, a self-confessed art collective, work the Hole by hand, with pick and shovel, turn and turn about: four days to complete a grave shaft, without any of the tortured grinding and ...

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