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The Hemingway Crush

Theo Tait: Kevin Powers, 3 January 2013

The Yellow Birds 
by Kevin Powers.
Sceptre, 230 pp., £14.99, September 2012, 978 1 4447 5612 8
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... on the sofa and call it work. At any rate, the reaction to The Yellow Birds – the first novel by Kevin Powers, who enlisted at 17 in the US army and served in Iraq in 2004-5 – has been fairly hysterical. The book has been compared to All Quiet on the Western Front, A Farewell to Arms, The Red Badge of Courage, The Naked and the Dead, The Things They ...

Proudly Reptilian

Nicole Flattery: Kevin Barry, 12 September 2019

Night Boat to Tangier 
by Kevin Barry.
Canongate, 224 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 78211 617 2
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... you come?’ This isn’t your average farm but a site of adultery, fecklessness, vice. This is a Kevin Barry short story because it could only be a Kevin Barry short story. There Are Little Kingdoms, the collection in which this story appeared, was published in October 2007. Two months later, the model Katy French died ...


Tom Nairn: The Australian elections, 13 December 2007

... Labor. Just as Blairism took over so much of Thatcherism, so the new Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has been striving to appear even more moderate, business-oriented and pro-American than Howard. Despairing media critics baptised it ‘Me-tooism’, and the result was a campaign setting new standards of witless boredom. Four days before the vote, my ...

Stalker & Co

Damian Grant, 20 November 1986

... No 1 Regional Crime Squad began an investigation into the affairs of the Manchester businessman Kevin Taylor, a friend of John Stalker’s for many years. This investigation is currently the subject of a private prosecution brought by Mr Taylor against the Chief Constable of Manchester, James Anderton, which is due to be heard at Bury Magistrates Court in ...

Short Cuts

Philippa Hetherington: Canberra’s Coups, 27 September 2018

... faction, openly plotting revenge. Before Turnbull and Abbott, the Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard had repeatedly moved through the revolving doors of leadership, deposing each other with increasing bitterness. And on top of this, since mid-2017 Australian politics has been convulsed by a series of scandals related to Section 44 of ...

77 Barton Street

Dave Haslam: Joy Division, 3 January 2008

Juvenes: The Joy Division Photographs of Kevin Cummins 
To Hell with Publishing, 189 pp., £200, December 2007Show More
Joy Division: Piece by Piece 
by Paul Morley.
Plexus, 384 pp., £14.99, December 2007, 978 0 85965 404 3
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directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... bleakness of the failed landscape around them was seeping into their music. A local photographer, Kevin Cummins, was commissioned by the NME in January 1979 to take a series of portraits of Joy Division inside the grotty warehouse where the band rehearsed; most striking are those showing the band’s singer, Ian Curtis, pale and brooding, lit by dusty ...

Interview with a Dead Man

Jeremy Harding: Witches of Impalahoek, 20 June 2013

Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa 
by Isak Niehaus.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £60, December 2012, 978 1 107 01628 6
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... to Niehaus he saw no bathos in the fact that his granny was dashing to the toilet. Her special powers were an open secret in the family: she was ‘excessively private’, brewed expert potions for initiation masters at the circumcision lodges and was known to have mixed a euthanasia draught for an elder with a terminal illness. Luckson, too, was widely ...

Labour and the Bouncers

Paul Foot, 4 June 1987

Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... his shrewdness and his patience were never in doubt. All of them were shattered by relentless powers against which his talents were quite futile. Listen to Callaghan himself, describing his feelings as he took office as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1964, after Labour had won an election in peacetime conditions, when no one was out of work: ‘In all the ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William Gibson, 22 May 2003

Pattern Recognition 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... So it’s pretty clear who the author has in mind when he equips his characters with uncanny powers of cultural precognition. Gibson’s career as a zeitgeist-wrangler got off to an impressive start when his science fiction novels – starting with Neuromancer (1984) – hammered out some sturdy templates for pop-cultural dystopianism. Ridley Scott’s ...
... to Paris after conquering Italy. As a beautiful baleful child at school, testing his strategic powers and personal will in a snowball fight against (rather than with) his classmates, struck down by snowballs containing stones (‘Look out, Napoleon,’ cries a friendly scullion), he sheds multiple glycerine tears but is comforted by a pet eagle in a ...

Ready to Go Off

Jenny Turner, 18 February 2021

A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler 
by Lynell George.
Angel City, 176 pp., $30, November 2020, 978 1 62640 063 4
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‘Kindred’, Fledgling’, Collected Stories’ 
by Octavia E. Butler, edited by Gerry Canavan and Nisi Shawl.
Library of America, 790 pp., $31.50, January 2021, 978 1 59853 675 1
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... Canavan reports, Butler wrote about herself as though she, too, were in possession of special powers, enhanced, perhaps, by a keen interest in self-hypnosis, affirmations and self-help. ‘Her bedroom, her bathroom, her doors, are decorated with messages,’ George adds, ‘with carefully spaced sentences in felt-tip marker or ballpoint pen. They ring out ...

Laundering Britain’s Past

Marilyn Butler, 12 September 1991

The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 1095 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 297 81207 6
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... a thousand pages Johnson’s book is longer than Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, 1988 (subtitle, ‘Economic Change and Military Conflict, 1500-2000’), or Simon Schama’s Citizens, 1989. At first glance it looks as if the reader gets a smaller return, a mere 15 years of history at a point when, on the face of it, nothing dramatic ...


Ian Hamilton: The World Cup, 30 July 1998

... or to devise a perfect forward line for France, or to imagine discussing such matters with, say, Kevin Keegan. You may not have allowed the bleached Romanians to get to you, but surely no one can deny that throughout this 1998 World Cup there was an altogether unsettling preoccupation with hairstyle. Maybe it was all to do with the world’s supposedly best ...

On the Threshold

Tom Nairn, 23 March 1995

Frameworks for the Future 
Northern Ireland Office, 37 pp., February 1995Show More
Northern Ireland: The Choice 
by Kevin Boyle and Tom Hadden.
Penguin, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 023541 8
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... and commented on in another admirable analysis which appeared just before the Framework Document, Kevin Boyle and Tom Hadden’s Northern Ireland: The Choice. The authors point out that any new agreement on governing Northern Ireland hinges on a choice between fully acknowledging this existing separation or trying to wish it away by administrative ...
State of Exception 
by Giorgio Agamben, translated by Kevin Attell.
Chicago, 104 pp., £8.50, January 2005, 0 226 00925 4
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... minted liberal constitutions. If the constitution already gives the sovereign plenipotentiary powers there is no need to suspend it, and over time officially declared states of emergency may become less common as governments absorb their emergency powers within the constitutional order. Agamben refers to this process as ...

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