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Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... biggest kids’ agent in Hollywood. She represented Tommy Rettig, who was in River of No Return, Jon Provost, who played Timmy in Lassie, Karolyn Grimes, who played Jimmy Stewart’s daughter in It’s a Wonderful Life, and Eugene Mazzola, who was in The Ten Commandments. I assured Miss Moore I could do just as well as any of those creeps in any picture she ...

Big Bad Wolfe

John Sutherland, 18 February 1988

The Bonfire of the Vanities 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 659 pp., £11.95, February 1988, 0 224 02439 6
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... a word to describe the world of the Midtown commuter. The most timely confirmation of Wolfe’s savage assertions in The Bonfire of the Vanities is the Howard Beach case, the sentences in which are just now being given out. On 19 December 1986, a car with three young black men in it broke down near Howard Beach, in the borough of Queens. The area is solidly ...

Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel

Charles Glass: Palestine, 7 June 2001

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... tended to portray the Zionist pioneers waging a war of independence against the British oppressor. Jon and David Kimche provided a good example of the conventional Israeli analysis of British policy in Both Sides of the Hill: Britain and the Palestine War (1960). ‘It was a mixture of ignorance, blundering, indecision and local bias against the ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... the Allott anthology I was intrigued by some of the poems that came towards the end, most notably Jon Silkin’s ‘Death of a Son’, whose last line (‘And out of his eyes two great tears rolled, like stones, and he died’) I thought sadder than anything in Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen. I was also interested in Thomas Kinsella’s ‘Another ...

Snail Slow

Colm Tóibín: Letters to John McGahern, 27 January 2022

The Letters of John McGahern 
edited by Frank Shovlin.
Faber, 851 pp., £30, September 2021, 978 0 571 32666 2
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... wrote to a friend about the atmosphere in the house. ‘Egotism both greedy and afraid, once savage, wasting away as a kill-joy, gnawing at its own loneliness and despair.’ McGahern told Monteith: ‘My father says that [The Barracks] is an immoral disgrace and has called here from the country with that priest of my adolescence. I am afraid I am just ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... days of writing to the council were long gone, and now he did half-hour interviews with Jon Snow on Channel Four News, unchallenged. (Many people liked being asked to provide opinions, but they didn’t want to be asked to provide evidence, and they gently slid away.) Grenfell United also had the prime minister to talk to. ‘What happened at ...

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