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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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... a soldier, then imagine the havoc the idea plays with book reviewing types, who spend whole days on the sofa and call it work. At any rate, the reaction to The Yellow Birds – the first novel by KevinPowers, 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 ...

Proudly Reptilian

Nicole Flattery: Kevin​ Barry

12 September 2019
Night Boat to Tangier 
by Kevin​ Barry.
Canongate, 224 pp., £14.99, June, 978 1 78211 617 2
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... matter-of-factly by the farmer, John, to his wife: ‘Mary? I’ll ask you again. How many times did 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 ...

Diary

Tom Nairn: The Australian elections

13 December 2007
... last year has been marked by a crippling ‘convergence’ between the Liberal-National alliance and 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 ...

Stalker & Co

Damian Grant

20 November 1986
... In the same month – September 1985 – that Stalker completed his interim report, Manchester’s 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 ...

Short Cuts

Philippa Hetherington: Canberra’s Coups

27 September 2018
... in a spill in September 2015. Abbott remained in Parliament as the not so secret ringleader of the conservative 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 ...
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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... other politically as much as the authors compliment each other personally. James Callaghan’s ability, 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 ...
16 April 1981
... image of exploding galaxies. This is Napoleon before he had his hair cut à la Titus, before he returned 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 ...

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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... about, actually,’ Cayce Pollard says. Colin Laney ‘couldn’t explain how he did what he did’. 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 ...

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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Control 
directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... differed greatly in their sound and their ways of seeing the world, in each case it seemed as if the 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 ...
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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... written by Britons who position themselves mid-Atlantic, in order to address the American reader. At 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 ...

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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... she was being watched. Jimmy would have been a little boy at the time but when he recalled the episode 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 ...
16 December 2004
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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... is always the more common of the two. States of emergency occur most frequently in states with newly 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 ...

Steaming like a Pie

Theo Tait: ‘Going Postal’

4 December 2003
Mailman 
by J. Robert Lennon.
Granta, 483 pp., £15.99, October 2003, 1 86207 625 1
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... by US Mail. It was not an act of treason, nor possibly even of defiance. But it was a calculated withdrawal, from the life of the Republic, from its machinery.’ Another, sillier example is Kevin Costner’s dire and bloated vanity movie The Postman. Over the course of three hours of hallucinatory badness, Costner’s Shakespeare-spouting drifter reunites the scattered communities of post ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: The World Cup

30 July 1998
... in. Some nights, the only way to get some sleep was to try counting Del Piero’s goal attempts, 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 ...
10 June 1993
The Personal Rule of Charles I 
by Kevin​ Sharpe.
Yale, 983 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 300 05688 5
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... The same applies to the argument that English influence in European politics during the 1630s was greater than it is thought to have been. This undoubtedly contains some truth, since Continental powers never knew for certain that Charles would not risk war. Yet this is a limited truth, and it should not be pushed too far. The Personal Rule of Charles I could have been written as a political ...

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