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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dictator’, 7 June 2012

The Dictator 
directed by Larry Charles.
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... by corruption. This line of thought actually recurs, I’m sure without any allusive intent, in Larry Charles’s The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as the evil Oriental Admiral General Aladeen. An eager American dissident says the police in her country are fascists. ‘Yes,’ our hero says, ‘but not in a good way.’ Still, in spite of the ...

Green Hearts

Anne Enright, 3 August 1995

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: The Politics of Irish Beef 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Vintage, 292 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 09 951451 6
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... they were never filmed walking out of it again. And when it came to the crunch, key witnesses like Charles Haughey said things like: ‘It is certainly very mysterious.’ Fianna Fail was forced into setting up the tribunal in May 1991, when Desmond O’Malley, their partner in coalition, withdrew his support for a motion of confidence in the procedures then ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: On Michael Collins, 28 November 1996

... he should meet the Kiernan girls from Granard. The Greville Arms was a small family hotel run by Larry Kiernan and his four sisters, Chrys, Kitty, Helen and Maud, all ‘lovely glamorous girls’, as Auntie Thornton described them to Collins. When their parents died within a couple of months of each other in 1908, ...

The Faster the Better

Paul Driver: Anatomising Mendelssohn, 3 February 2005

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music 
by Larry Todd.
Oxford, 683 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 19 511043 9
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... his life is legendary though not unduly eventful. Now we have it in the kind of detail few need. Larry Todd’s book, in the modern academic fashion, is a chronicle of day by day. It is a chronicle, too, of piece by piece, and song by song, both Felix’s and those of his elder sister, Fanny. Todd has also discovered who lived next door to them on Berlin’s ...

Mr Horse and Mrs Eohippus

Elaine Showalter, 30 January 1992

The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography 
introduced by Ann Lane.
University of Wisconsin Press, 341 pp., £10.45, April 1991, 0 299 12740 0
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Non-Fiction Reader 
edited by Larry Ceplair.
Columbia, 345 pp., £20.50, December 1991, 0 231 07617 7
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... was her work in economics, sociology and evolutionary theory that made her famous in her own day. Larry Ceplair’s anthology is a much-needed sampling of Gilman’s ideas, including substantial excerpts from her essays and lectures, and her books Women and Economics (1898), The Home (1903), The Man-made World (1911) and His Religion and Hers (1923). In these ...

Philip’s People

Anna Della Subin: Divine Prince Philip, 7 May 2014

... Don’t​ talk about God – be it! Find the place, the formula … Ah, Larry, it isn’t that life is so short, it’s that it’s everlasting!’ Henry Miller wrote to Lawrence Durrell in 1959. The formula, if one were to look to history for clues, seems fairly simple. Be white, male, fairly imposing in stature, and in possession of a large ship and obedient crew ...

The Glamour of Glamour

James Wood, 19 November 1992

The Secret History 
by Donna Tartt.
Viking, 524 pp., £9.99, October 1992, 0 670 84854 9
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A Thousand Acres 
by Jane Smiley.
Flamingo, 371 pp., £5.99, October 1992, 0 00 654482 7
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... of Tartt’s: Bunny was Edmund Wilson’s nickname); Francis Abernathy is the wimp; and the twins, Charles and Camilla Macaulay, are the beauties. The members of the gang have no life outside their poses. There is nothing here unmotivated, no detail that is not telling (‘he carried an umbrella, a bizarre sight in Hampden’), no revelation that is not a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Detroit’, 20 September 2017

Detroit 
directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
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... but doesn’t because the spreading of the riot forces the theatre to close. The lead singer, Larry (Algee Smith), and his friend Fred (Jacob Latimore) take refuge in the Algiers Motel, where they hope sex may be a short-term substitute for fame, and the real story begins. The prelude has one other important element. The residents at the motel have a ...

‘The Sun Says’

Paul Laity, 20 June 1996

... It’s well-known that when Murdoch relaunched the Sun he was, in the words of the former editor Larry Lamb, ‘obsessed’, sometimes ‘to an alarming degree’, with ‘what he chose to call the “English” class system’. (The knighted Lamb began to insist on being addressed as ‘Sir Larry’ in the office; it ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens, 28 June 1990

Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... At a Spectator garden party, in front of my brother and other witnesses, Conrad Black surged up to Charles Moore and congratulated him on firing me. Ever the gentleman, Moore courteously pointed out that there had been a few lines in the magazine thanking me for my services and even regretting my departure. Then Conrad Black bought the Spectator. Well, I ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... by recycling elements of his earlier short stories as subplots, while the main plot – in which Larry Darrell travels to India in search of enlightenment, apparently finds it, and then decides to become a mystical taxi driver – is strikingly ridiculous. When Larry spends forty pages explaining ‘the three ...

Axeman as Ballroom Dancer

David Blackbourn, 17 July 1997

Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany 1600-1987 
by Richard J. Evans.
Oxford, 1014 pp., £55, March 1996, 0 19 821968 7
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... were striking. In most parts of the Holy Roman Empire, the Carolina Criminal Code promulgated by Charles V held good into the 17th century. It prescribed the death penalty not just for murder and treason, but for arson, blasphemy, counter-feiting, conjuring, witchcraft, abortion, rape, unnatural sex, highway robbery, robbery or attempted robbery with ...

Your life depends on it

Thomas Jones: Jonathan Raban, 19 October 2006

Surveillance 
by Jonathan Raban.
Picador, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 330 41338 4
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... American know-all. August Vanags was unworthy of being the author of his own book. Put him on Larry King, and he’d unsell Boy 381 at the rate of thousands a minute. So instead they packed him off to Whidbey Island with an ex-directory phone number and refused all interviews on his behalf. And with good reason, since even Lucy – though perhaps ...

Deity with Fairy Wings

Emily Witt: Girlhood, 7 September 2016

The Girls 
by Emma Cline.
Chatto, 355 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 78474 044 3
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... of Southern California and calling the charismatic psychopath at their centre Russell instead of Charles. The cult’s celebrity patron is called Mitch instead of Dennis Wilson, and the group lives rent-free on a ranch where they help raise llamas instead of renting out horses, as the Manson family did at Spahn Ranch. Cline also removes all reference to ...

Umbah-Umbah

Jerome McGann, 22 June 1989

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century 
by Greil Marcus.
Secker, 496 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 436 27338 1
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... he uses whatever maps he can find: the theoretical writings of Isidore Isou and Guy Debord, Larry Clark’s pictures, Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium, Theodor Adorno (in particular his great and mordant Minima Moralia), Christopher Gray’s Leaving the 20th Century, Abiezer Coppe, Georges Bataille. Oddly, the name William Blake never ...

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