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At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... your own morals intact, has served other breathless and heavy-breathing narrators very well since. Kenneth Anger has been this kind of wallflower at the orgy for years. The dragon king of gorgeous Hollywood has him in thrall. His snappy chapter-headings (‘Closely Observed Blondes’, ‘Babylon Boozers’, ‘Hollywood Drugstore’) give a promise that ...

Vehicles of Dissatisfaction

Jonathan Dollimore: Men and Motors, 24 July 2003

Autopia: Cars and Culture 
edited by Peter Wollen and Joe Kerr.
Reaktion, 400 pp., £25, November 2002, 1 86189 132 6
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... James Dean’s obsession with racing as a morbid complement to his other strange ways – Kenneth Anger described him as a ‘human ashtray’ in his sexual proclivities. Steve McQueen defended his own obsession as ‘without any death wish, like Jimmy Dean’, but Dean claimed of racing that ‘it’s the only time I feel whole’ (nothing ...

Young Ones

Hugh Barnes, 5 June 1986

Damaged Gods 
by Julie Burchill.
Century, 152 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7126 1140 1
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Love it or shove it: The Best of Julie Burchill 
Century, 148 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 7126 0746 3Show More
Girls on Film 
by Julie Burchill.
Virgin, 192 pp., £5.99, March 1986, 9780863691348
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Less than Zero 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 208 pp., £2.95, February 1986, 0 330 29400 8
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... Thompson clearly prefigures Damaged Gods, and in Girls on Film she ventures into a Kenneth Anger world of gross. Each book boasts a vitriolic manifesto, as well as close-ups of the degeneration of the species. Damaged Gods is subtitled ‘Cults and Heroes Reappraised’, and comprises various essays about tribes of the 20th ...

Looking back in anger

Hilary Mantel, 21 November 1991

Almost a Gentleman. An Autobiography: Vol. II 1955-66 
by John Osborne.
Faber, 273 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 571 16261 4
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... it in his stead. Osborne as the fourth intern in Doctor in the House, alongside Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More and Donald Sinden ... Osborne as a Spartan, as a rugby fan, as Dr Watson ... He would, you feel, have snarled a hole in the screen. A Better Class of Person is written with the tautness and power of a well-organised novel. It is a ferociously ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... and there’s a touch of Sheila Graham in the Garden of Allah, with Fitzgerald drunk on the floor. Kenneth Anger is deep in conversation with Nathanael West at the counter of Schwab’s drugstore, Joan Didion’s desert air is wafting in under the door, and Ben Hecht is taking notes. Stein has an ear for Americana at its most bewildering, most politically ...

Skating Charm

James Wolcott: Kenneth Tynan, 13 December 2001

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan 
edited by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 439 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 7475 5418 8
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... Kenneth Tynan smoked like a maestro, an aficionado of his own smooth technique. As the stripper sings in Gypsy, ‘Ya gotta have a gimmick,’ and photograph after photograph shows Tynan squiring a cigarette between the tips of his middle and ring fingers (his trademark), each puff drawing attention to the languid elegance of his long, slender, concert-pianist hands ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... in place, it proposes a plan of action, a campaign. For that reason, a theory takes part in what Kenneth Burke calls the ‘bureaucratisation of the imaginative’. Instead of denouncing Structuralism or Deconstruction, perhaps we should be asking what the bureaucratisation of the imaginative comes to. Otherwise put: to teach English, must I change my ...

Short Cuts

Sadakat Kadri: Bench Rage, 22 September 2011

... The anger may have subsided on the streets as hoodies, gangstas and other members of Kenneth Clarke’s ‘feral underclass’ retreated into the shadows after last month’s riots, but it soon burst out in courtrooms across England. The most egregious instance was the judge at Chester who gave two men without criminal records four-year prison terms for trying (and failing) to incite riots via Facebook, but it was among magistrates that the rage was most sustained ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: Reasons for Loathing Michael Howard, 31 October 1996

... it may be simply that he has had more time to accumulate form. The three men whom he followed – Kenneth Clarke, Kenneth Baker and David Waddington – together occupied the post for just a few months more than he has already served. Baker’s brief romp managed to produce two absurdities, the first comic in the form of ...

Stalking Out

David Edgar: After John Osborne, 20 July 2006

John Osborne: A Patriot for Us 
by John Heilpern.
Chatto, 528 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 7011 6780 7
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... weeks of its opening in May 1956, it’s been accepted that John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger ushered in a theatrical revolution. Launching both the Angry Young Man and kitchen-sink drama, the play is held to have had a devastating and irreversible impact on a postwar theatre scene dominated by winsome drawing-room comedies and witless country-house ...

After the Battle

Matthew Coady, 26 November 1987

Misrule 
by Tam Dalyell.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12170 1
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One Man’s Judgement: An Autobiography 
by Lord Wheatley.
Butterworth, 230 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 406 10019 5
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Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party 
by John Silkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £13.95, September 1987, 9780241121719
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Heseltine: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Julian Critchley.
Deutsch, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 233 98001 6
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... moreover, are usually more candid. In their accounts the bruises tend to show; so does the anger. The fury of Mr Tam Dalyell, Labour Member of Parliament for Linlithgow, at his inability to damage the Prime Minister over her role in the Belgrano affair and other matters, borders upon the uncontainable. He is the politician who has turned tenacity into ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Penguin’s 70th birthday, 2 June 2005

... has had a long life, in art college reading lists in particular; a more active one certainly than Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, to which it was an indirect riposte. Schmoller’s anger was misplaced. He might have loathed the look, but here at least was a book which was all of a piece. In 1972, the battle for the visual ...

At the Rob Tufnell Gallery

August Kleinzahler: Christopher Logue, 5 November 2015

... John (We think you should be sacked because)’ (1967) Logue was introduced to Anderson by Kenneth Tynan soon after his return to London. Around this time he had begun working on his translations from the Iliad with Donald Carne-Ross, and published a poem in the New Statesman grandly titled ‘To My Fellow Artists’. He found the atmosphere in London ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Have You Seen David?, 11 March 1993

... and murder of James Bulger, a two-year-old boy from Liverpool, has caused unprecedented grief and anger. Hours before the two ten-year-old boys accused of the crime arrived at South Sefton Magistrates’ Court, a large, baying crowd had formed outside. As a pair of blue vans drew up, the crowd surged forward, bawling and screaming. A number of men tried to ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... Britain duly puts in a guest-appearance: Mrs Thatcher. The Ironised Maiden is in evidence, too, in Kenneth Baker’s anthology of verse parodies, Unauthorised Versions. But then Mr Baker is a Conservative politician, mainstream, main chance. Politically these are authorised versions. One of the entries, by Roger Woddis, sings of ‘The Church of ...

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