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“... hair’, wants to be back in New York with his father. We meet Bethany, divorced from randy Randy, who has fled from New York to Verity with her baby daughter Rachel. There’s an eccentric cop named Julian Cash, so ugly that his mother fainted when she first saw him and tree frogs go limp with fear in the palm of his hand. This material for a Faulknerian comedy is made instead into sticky romantic mush ...”
“... The first of JulianSymons’s ‘original investigations’, entitled ‘How a hermit was disturbed in his retirement’, is an apocryphal Sherlock Holmes story in which the great detective is lured away from his bee-keeping ...”
“... gentleman competent to answer this rhetorical question: historian, critic, poet, and incidentally a delicate practitioner in this art of detective fiction we had all consigned to musty attics. JulianSymons has brought scholarship to this historical phenomenon, technical skills to a preposterous idol (symbolised by the Poe statuettes, still distributed yearly by the Mystery Writers of America ...”
“... Death’s Darkest Face is JulianSymons’s 27th crime story, and its appearance coincides with an award (the Diamond Dagger) for his long service to the genre. This isn’t quite enough for his publishers, keen to promote the book as a ...”
“... The first page of Jeremy Reed’s ‘autobiographical exploration of sexuality’ finds him with ‘a red gash of lipstick’ on his mouth, pondering whether to take the ten steps down to a beach where men sunbathe nude. He is androgynous, 16, ‘looking for a new species’. James Kirkup also admits to androgyny and to a passion for make-up, from childhood when he experimented with his mother’s ...”
“... There is something to be said for encountering some years after publication a fictional work not only popular but critically acclaimed. What is novel in the subject-matter will have become familiarly known, something particularly relevant to J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, which fascinated some of its early readers and reviewers because it was based on the writer's childhood experiences while interned ...”
“... Every poetic rebellion hardens sooner or later into an ossification of style and language and needs replacement by something at the time believed to be its opposite. In the 20th century it has been sooner rather than later, so that in Britain the almost art-for-art’s-sake purity of Imagism was replaced by the socially-conscious, deliberately objective poetry of the Thirties. When that was killed ...”
“... What is it really about, and why was it written like this? The questions are never unreasonable when confronted with works that suggest the possibility of other meanings present beneath the surface level of realism, and when a reader has to decide whether suggested profundities really exist or in fact resemble what Eliot in old age called his notes to The Waste Land, an exhibition of bogus scholarship ...”
“... What a marvellous title, I said to friends when By Grand Central Station was published in 1945. Better not read the book, it can’t possibly live up to the title. Sure enough, On First Looking into Grand Central Station after nearly half a century’s abstention, that unserious assertion turns out to be dismayingly justified. On publication, the Book got few reviews, but caused considerable stir in ...”
“... In the beginning there was Cookham, and Pa and Ma and ten other children apart from Stanley, including two who died in childhood. Cookham was Paradise, but Paradise ended with the 1914 War. Afterwards there were years of confusion, then the discovery of sex. And all the while there was religion, and paintings that tried to express religious feeling, latterly including always in various forms the artist ...”
“... Volume One of Anthony Burgess’s autobiography, Little Wilson and Big God, left our hero in January 1960 under sentence of death, no more than a few months to live. With one bound, or at least one letter from the Neurological Institute, he is free. ‘The protein content of my spinal liquor had gone down dramatically’: the death sentence is cancelled. Too late: he is already writing at express speed ...”
“... My friend and fellow crime writer John Creasey published more than seven hundred books under some twenty different names. (He also found time to found a political party called rather grandly the All Party Alliance, although a wit said that his only allies were Anthony Morton, Gordon Ashe, Michael Halliday and other Creasey pseudonyms.) His books were popular but not highly regarded, and this worried ...”
“... What Carlyle called the Condition of England Question – in our day, the country created by Thatcher and her sub-lieutenants – is surely the ripest subject on offer to novelists. The centripetal tendencies of a government that every year has affirmed its centrifugal intentions, the encouragement for financial whizzkids to enrich themselves and the brushing aside of accompanying financial scandals ...”
“... A myth now, what is that? ‘A purely fictitious narrative embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena,’ my Shorter Oxford says, adding: ‘Often used vaguely to include any narrative having fictitious elements.’ That seems clear enough, and certainly covers an article recently read called ‘The Myth of President Kennedy’, which says that the assassinated idol of the ...”
“... Some time late in 1939, around the time World War Two began, I met Rayner Heppenstall in the street, and we went to a pub, no doubt to exchange gloomy views about our likely futures. His first novel would be coming out soon. ‘It might sell a few copies in the rubber shops,’ he said. The book was The Blaze of Noon. It appeared in November 1939, and its success was assured by an article in the Evening ...”