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What’s next, locusts?

Pooja Bhatia: What Happened to Haiti

23 May 2013
The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster 
by Jonathan Katz.
Palgrave Macmillan, 320 pp., £16.99, January 2013, 978 0 230 34187 6
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Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti 
by Amy Wilentz.
Simon and Schuster, 329 pp., £18, January 2013, 978 1 4516 4397 8
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... In January 2010, Jonathan Katz was working in Haiti for the Associated Press, the only American news organisation with a permanent bureau there. Other foreign journalists lived there, and a few more flew in for elections and catastrophes, but for the most part Haiti coverage had become a casualty of slashed budgets at dying newspapers and magazines ...

Beauty + Terror

Kevin Kopelson: Robert Mapplethorpe

29 June 2016
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive 
by Frances Terpak and Michelle Brunnick.
Getty Research Institute, 240 pp., £32.50, March 2016, 978 1 60606 470 2
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Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs 
by Paul Martineau and Britt Salvesen.
Getty Museum, 340 pp., £40, March 2016, 978 1 60606 469 6
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... his photographs. The real erotic subject matter, I should say. (‘I am particularly disturbed,’ Jonathan Weinberg writes in his essay in The Archive, ‘by the way so much of the writing on Mapplethorpe sees his images of the male nude and his pictures of sex as merely projections of his own fantasies and pathologies.’) And also now that Mapplethorpe’s ...

From Wooden to Plastic

James Meek: Jonathan Franzen

23 September 2015
Purity 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 563 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 00 753276 6
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... Jonathan Franzen​ has been compared to 19th-century greats: to Tolstoy, to Dickens. In respect of his best and most successful book, The Corrections, the praise carries a false hint of the retrograde, of revival of old forms or subject matter. Published at the turn of the millennium, The Corrections is a work of its time, not for its topical themes of dementia, the medicated society or stock market chicanery but for its approach to family ...

So long, Lalitha

James Lever: Franzen’s Soap Opera

7 October 2010
Freedom 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 562 pp., £20, September 2010, 978 0 00 726975 4
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... Jonathan Franzen has in the past been a writer who has flourished in sequences and streaks, in set-pieces and sections, the kinds of book of which you could ask: ‘What are your favourite tracks?’ The Corrections’ war of attrition between Caroline and Gary Lambert is a breathtakingly good sequence – but Gary remains the most underpowered character in the novel ...

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