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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dictator’

7 June 2012
The Dictator 
directed by Larry Charles.
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... an ideal combination of fascism and incompetence. In other versions the phrase was fascism mitigated by corruption. This line of thought actually recurs, I’m sure without any allusive intent, in LarryCharles’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 ...

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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... customs officers and lawyers walk past the camera into a strange and important room. Bizarrely, 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 ...

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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... of Queen Victoria. Innumerable biographies of all sizes have been published since his death, and 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 ...
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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... The Yellow Wallpaper’ should have become the text by which Gilman’s reputation survived, for it 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 ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: On Michael Collins

28 November 1996
... leader in the making, but he was also a grand fellow from west Cork and Auntie Thornton thought 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Detroit’

20 September 2017
Detroit 
directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
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... in town a group of doo-wop singers seems to be about to get its first real chance with a live audience, 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 ...

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 ...
20 June 1996
... people ... We are not going to bow to the Establishment in any of its privileged enclaves. Ever.’ 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 ...

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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... anyway. Then I stopped writing for the Spectator in order to accept an offer from the New Statesman. 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 ...
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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... the gang is Bunny Corcoran, Bunny ‘being somehow short for Edmund’ (presumably a little allusion 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 ...

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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... of war, a figure of haunting telegenic pathos, they’d come face to face with this chipper and garrulous 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 ...

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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... summer there. Cline fictionalises the Manson murders by setting them in Northern California instead 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 ...

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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... others are the ragged doomsters of Marcus’s secret history. To track their explosive and erratic careers 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 ...

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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... Razor’s Edge is a good example of this because, in most ways, it’s a total mess. He bulks it out 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 ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara

20 July 2000
In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Russell Ferguson. O’Hara collaborated with the Action Painters and the proto-Pop artists Joe Brainard, Norman Bluhm, Mike Goldberg, Franz Kline, Al Leslie and Larry Rivers, on paintings, prints, collages, ‘artists’ books’ and short films: these comprise the core of the exhibition. There are also portraits and other works linked to O’Hara: Johns’s big ...

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