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The Eerie One

Bee Wilson: Peter Lorre, 23 March 2006

The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre 
by Stephen Youngkin.
Kentucky, 613 pp., $39.95, September 2005, 0 8131 2360 7
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... to cash in on the popularity of Charlie Chan. Based on third-rate mystery novels churned out by John P. Marquand, the films feature an inscrutable and delicate Japanese detective/ spy called Mr Moto, a master of jujitsu. Who better to play Moto than a dumpy, tragicomic Hungarian? The director of the first film, Norman ...

Diary

Patrick Wright: The Cult of Tyneham, 24 November 1988

... water or filled the place with holiday bungalows. There had been no consumerism or television to foster aberrant desires, no immigration to pollute the village’s ancestral stock, no metrication to confound the valley’s innate sense of measure, no welfare state to homogenise its community and weaken the character of its villagers. No liberal progressives ...
Sleaze: Politicians, Private Interests and Public Reaction 
edited by F.F. Ridley and Alan Doig.
Oxford, 222 pp., £10.99, April 1996, 0 19 922273 8
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Changing Trains: The Autobiography of Steven Norris 
Hutchinson, 273 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 0 09 180212 1Show More
The Quango Debate 
edited by F.F. Ridley and David Wilson.
Oxford, 188 pp., £10.99, September 1995, 9780199222384
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... political history this century, from Rufus Isaacs to Horatio Bottomley to Maundy Gregory to John Poulson, is littered with great corruption stories. The explanation for the increase in sleaze under Thatcher and Major is not to be found in any particular scandal, nor in the sudden susceptibility of certain individuals to corruption. Contemporary sleaze ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood, 19 May 1983

Duluth 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... specialises in strip-searching delinquent Mexican males, but finds true love in the arms of Big John, a massively-endowed black drug-pusher. There are riots and burning in the barrios, a fixed election, a major kidnapping, and a good old American assassination by a ‘lone crazed killer’ who keeps a picture of Jodie ...

Diary

Patrick Mauriès: Halfway between France and Britain, 3 November 1983

... to read them. One must acknowledge, however, that Richard Cobb is not Frank Kermode, nor Angus Wilson D.P. Walker. I had come knowing what Britain’s preconceived ideas were: her pragmatism and refusal of abstraction, her solitary traditions and diehard taste for erudition and travail honnête, however ungratifying; knowing, too, that my stock of clichés ...

Acapulcalypse

Patrick Parrinder, 23 November 1989

Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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Hollywood 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... but what Vidal has to offer might have been more accurately if less enticingly labelled Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding. Hollywood fits rather curiously into Vidal’s saga of American political history. Chronologically it is the sequel to Empire (1987) but also the predecessor of Washington DC, the novel set in the 1940s with which Vidal started the ...

Dev and Dan

Tom Dunne, 21 April 1988

The Hereditary Bondsman: Daniel O’Connell, 1775-1829 
by Oliver MacDonagh..
Weidenfeld, 328 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 297 79221 0
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Eamon de Valera 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
University of Wales Press, 161 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7083 0986 0
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Nationalism and Popular Protest in Ireland 
edited by C.H.E. Philpin.
Cambridge, 466 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 521 26816 8
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Northern Ireland: Soldiers talking, 1969 to Today 
by Max Arthur.
Sidgwick, 271 pp., £13.95, October 1987, 0 283 99375 8
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War as a Way of Life: A Belfast Diary 
by John Conroy.
Heinemann, 218 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 434 14217 4
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... gives a voice to a group who are not generally believed to have (or to be entitled to) one, while John Conroy’s account is that of a sympathetic outsider nervously learning the codes and concerns of a small Catholic community at the eye of the storm. At the academic level, the heightened interest in Irish history in England has found a focus in the dynamic ...

Leaping on Tables

Norman Vance: Thomas Carlyle, 2 November 2000

Sartor Resartus 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Rodger Tarr and Mark Engel.
California, 774 pp., £38, April 2000, 0 520 20928 1
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... is a mysterious foundling, identified only by his preposterous name, brought up by elderly foster-parents in the village of Entepfuhl (based on Ecclefechan where Carlyle was born). Details of his early life, before acquiring his post at the new University of Weissnichtwo, are represented as sketchy and possibly unreliable, but we understand that the ...

Salem’s Lot

Leslie Wilson, 23 March 1995

... Her report suggests that the diagnosis of abuse by a satanic cult makes it possible for carers and foster-parents to ‘care for very damaged children with patience and sympathy’. However, she says, the belief has also encouraged fears of an unknown evil among child protection workers ... and seems to generate an obsessional desire to find out what happened ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote, 21 April 2005

The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... face lifted for the fourth time – the Doctors say no more), then Cecil [Beaton] and John Gielgud came to stay with us, and we went to Venice on Arturo Lopez’s yacht … Oh yes, I forgot Noel Coward – he fell in love with Jack. Jack hated it All. Later, in his thirties, he would tire also of the Greeks: ‘The children are so horrid: have ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... Still, there is only one staggering omission. He describes the genesis of physiology under Michael Foster but never mentions Adrian, Hodgkin or Huxley, all Nobel Laureates and masters of Trinity, who immediately after the war worked in the most prestigious biological department which pullulated with FRS. The greatest change in social life? Brooke is in no ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... American writing that have flourished and endured. Wolff sidestepped Postmodern elders such as John Barth, Robert Coover, Guy Davenport, William Gass, Harry Mathews, Paul Metcalf, Gilbert Sorrentino, Ronald Sukenick and Paul West, as well as their heirs, such as T. Coraghessan Boyle, Lydia Davis, Rick Moody, William Vollmann and David ...

Boarder or Day Boy?

Bernard Porter: Secrecy in Britain, 15 July 1999

The Culture of Secrecy in Britain 1832-1998 
by David Vincent.
Oxford, 364 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 19 820307 1
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... MI5 connivance with Fascists in the Thirties; KGB infiltration; the bugging of allies; the ‘Wilson plot’: all began to take on some credence once more. The last, especially, though a marginal theme of Peter Wright’s book (he couldn’t see what all the fuss was about: Wilson was obviously a rotter), rocked ...

The Ugly Revolution

Michael Rogin: Martin Luther King Jr, 10 May 2001

I May Not Get there with You: The True Martin Luther King Jr 
by Michael Eric Dyson.
Free Press, 404 pp., £15.99, May 2000, 0 684 86776 1
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The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr. Vol. IV: Symbol of the Movement January 1957-December 1958 
edited by Clayborne Carson et al.
California, 637 pp., £31.50, May 2000, 0 520 22231 8
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... in the freedom struggle. The four political assassinations that define the 1960s – those of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X and King – stand in for the very large numbers (almost all black and lost to national public memory) martyred to racial justice. It is now a commonplace that, instead of protecting Southern civil rights workers, the FBI (with ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... during the 1970s, when holidays brought together the Heaneys, the Hammonds, Deane, Brian Friel and John Hume; there is a book to be written about those summers and their consequences, in politics and in the arts. But Heaney’s debts to music pre-date Hammond, and extend far beyond his example. A blind musician, Rosie Keenan (remembered in the poem ‘At the ...

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