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I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... Males (Styron, Norman Mailer, James Jones, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Gore Vidal, J.D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, the recently retired Philip Roth), whose ghostly father and bearded Neptune disturbing the liquor cabinet deep into the night was Ernest Hemingway. Even those least influenced by Hemingway’s style couldn’t fail to register the impact of ...

Justice eBay Style

Frederick Wilmot-Smith, 26 September 2019

... have to start over again, paying a new court fee. But, he went on (this bit was straight out of Joseph Heller), if I did choose to issue another claim, he would strike it out again, since I had already had ‘one bite of the cherry’. All this could have left me disillusioned. Not a bit of it. The judge was kind, concerned, and clearly trying to do ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, 8 February 2018

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... on the Pulitzer jury to award it the prize. As Aldous points out, Arthur Senior was outdone by Joseph Kennedy Sr, who not only had JFK’s undergraduate thesis published, but then made While England Slept a bestseller by buying up thousands of copies and stashing them in a Boston warehouse. Like Schlesinger Senior, Kennedy Senior also strongarmed ...

Excellence

Patrick Wright, 21 May 1987

Creating excellence: Managing corporate culture, strategy and change in the New Age 
by Craig Hickman and Michael Silva.
Allen and Unwin, 305 pp., £12.50, April 1985, 0 04 658252 5
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Intrapreneuring: Why you don’t have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur 
by Gifford Pinchot.
Harper and Row, 368 pp., £15.95, August 1985, 0 06 015305 9
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The IBM Way: Insights into the World’s Most Successful Marketing Organisation 
by Buck Rodgers.
Harper and Row, 224 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 06 015522 1
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Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage 
by Richard Foster.
Macmillan, 316 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 333 43511 7
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Ford 
by Robert Lacey.
Heinemann, 778 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 434 40192 7
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Company of Adventurers: The Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company 
by Peter Newman.
Viking, 413 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 670 80379 0
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Augustine’s Laws 
by Norman Augustine.
Viking, 380 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 9780670809424
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Peak Performers: The New Heroes in Business 
by Charles Garfield.
Hutchinson, 333 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 09 167391 7
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Going for it: How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur 
by Victor Kiam.
Collins, 223 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 00 217603 3
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Take a chance to be first: The Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success 
by Warren Avis.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 02 504410 9
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The Winning Streak 
by Walter Goldsmith and David Clutterbuck.
Weidenfeld/Penguin, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 297 78469 2
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The Roots of Excellence 
by Ronnie Lessem.
Fontana, 318 pp., £3.95, December 1985, 0 00 636874 3
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The New Management of Local Government 
by John Stewart.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £20, October 1986, 0 00 435232 7
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... came fully fitted with the miserable wife, brattish children and off-the-peg infidelities of a Joseph Heller novel that was yet to be written. The creed of excellence has a sun-bleached Californian feel, but it is also tuned into the spiritual tradition of ‘Let my people go.’ Excellence replaces the measured outputs of the coerced and managed ...

Stateless

Daniel Heller-Roazen: The Story of Yiddish, 2 November 2006

Early Yiddish Texts 1100-1750 
edited by Jerold Frakes.
Oxford, 889 pp., £100, December 2004, 9780199266142
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Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature 
by Jean Baumgarten, edited and translated by Jerold Frakes.
Oxford, 459 pp., £75, June 2005, 0 19 927633 1
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The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture 
by David Fishman.
Pittsburgh, 190 pp., £23.50, November 2005, 0 8229 4272 0
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Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture 
by Jeffrey Shandler.
California, 263 pp., £26.95, November 2005, 0 520 24416 8
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... manuscript that records the epic, for example, also contains poems on the patriarchs Abraham and Joseph, ‘Glosses of Gems on the High Priest’s Breastplate’, and a fable in verse about ‘an old lion’ which seems to have a source in a Hebrew work of the 12th century. Old and new, Yiddish always maintained close ties to other languages. Baumgarten ...

Glasnost

John Barber, 29 October 1987

Socialism, Peace and Democracy: Writings, Speeches and Reports 
by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Zwan, 210 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 1 85305 011 3
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Gorbachev 
by Zhores Medvedev.
Blackwell, 314 pp., £5.95, May 1987, 0 631 15880 4
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The Sixth Continent: Russia and Mikhail Gorbachov 
by Mark Frankland.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £12.95, June 1987, 0 241 12122 1
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Shadows and Whispers: Power Politics inside the Kremlin from Brezhnev to Gorbachev 
by Dusko Doder.
Harrap, 349 pp., £12.95, July 1987, 0 245 54577 8
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Pravda: Inside the Soviet News Machine 
by Angus Roxburgh.
Gollancz, 285 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 575 03734 2
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Utopia in Power: A History of the USSR from 1917 to the Present 
by Michel Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich.
Hutchinson, 877 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 09 155620 1
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... changes in the system. It would clearly take more than a few months of glasnost to persuade Michel Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich that real reform is taking place in the USSR. They are as convinced of the impossibility of genuine change as the most conservative defenders of the status quo. ‘Homo sovieticus began from zero. On 25 October 1917 a new era ...

Mizzled

Roy Harris, 21 February 1985

Longman Dictionary of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk.
Longman, 1875 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 582 55511 6
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The Private Lives of English Words 
by Louis Heller, Alexander Humez and Malcah Dror.
Routledge, 333 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 7102 0006 4
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The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words 
by Bill Bryson.
Viking, 173 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 7139 1653 2
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The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots 
by Joseph Shipley.
Johns Hopkins, 637 pp., $39.95, May 1984, 0 8018 3004 4
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A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English 
by Eric Partidge and Paul Beale.
Routledge, 1400 pp., £45, May 1984, 0 7100 9820 0
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... to fruition by Penguin and the fruits thereof foisted on a gullible public at £7.95 a time. Joseph Shipley’s The Origins of English Words is quite a different kettle of lexical fish: but ‘kettle’ is the word. Anything caught swimming in the Indo-European ocean has been thrown into the pot. The result is an etymological stew which defies ...

A good God is hard to find

James Francken: Jenny Diski, 4 January 2001

Only Human: A Divine Comedy 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 215 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 1 86049 839 6
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... and withdrawn – God is a man. There are difficulties with comic novels that draw on the Bible. Joseph Heller’s God Knows sets itself up as the memoir of the ageing David – ‘warrior king, the sweet psalmist of Israel’ – and plays off its contemporary idiom against an ancient story for cheap laughs. David reminisces without ever losing a sense ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... breakthrough and millstone it belongs with Catch-22 (1961) and Slaughterhouse Five (1969). Joseph Heller didn’t publish another novel until 1974, while Vonnegut kept to his established rhythm, producing one every two or three years. Roth stepped up the pace, with Our Gang appearing in 1971, followed in successive years by The Breast, The Great ...

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