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M.J. Hyland: A memoir, 6 May 2004

... I felt. I was curious, mostly, about the rats and snakes: How big were they? Were they black or brown? But I don’t remember caring about how he felt. I was 13 and I wanted my new fantasy life to begin. But at the time, there seemed little chance I would become anything but a criminal, too. I was doing badly at school, taking any kind of pill on offer in ...

I want to be her clothes

Kevin Kopelson: Kate Moss, 20 December 2012

Kate: The Kate Moss Book 
by Kate Moss, edited by Fabien Baron, Jess Hallett and Jefferson Hack.
Rizzoli, 368 pp., £50, November 2012, 978 0 8478 3790 8
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... yet ‘monstrous “belle”’ (Craig McDean); ‘powerful’ yet ‘vulnerable’ (Laura Collins); ‘unobtainable’ yet ‘accessible’ (Collins again). Or to quote the photographer David Bailey: ‘She’s the kind of girl you wished lived next door, but she’s never going to.’ Many of these descriptions – perfect yet ...

Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS, 21 April 2005

Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... But the Treasury can hardly be accused of being self-deceived by acting in this way: Gordon Brown is not like those 16th-century Spanish monarchs who insisted that the interest payments on their debts should be left off their accounts because they found it too demeaning to be reminded of them. Brown is attempting to ...


Gabriele Annan, 6 March 1997

The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stan ford White Family 
by Suzannah Lessard.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £18.99, March 1997, 0 297 81940 2
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... Mrs Stanford White, is perversely known as ‘Grandma’, while her grand-mother, Laura Chanler, is ‘Mama’. ‘Mama’ married Stanford White’s son Lawrence (‘Papa’). So ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ are Lessard’s grandparents. They had eight children, one of whom is Lessard’s mother – referred to as ‘my mother’. Her father is ...


John Bayley, 24 March 1994

Christina Rossetti: A Biography 
by Frances Thomas.
Virago, 448 pp., £9.99, February 1994, 1 85381 681 7
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... The Victorians revelled in it. Stephen Foster’s audience grieved for Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, the lost one ‘who comes not again’. The big Romantics all had their more portentous versions, from Lucy ceasing to be, to Shelley’s solipsistic sad heart, filled with grief ‘but with delight/No more, oh nevermore’. Poe’s sardonic raven ...

Georgie came, Harry went

Frank Kermode, 25 April 1991

A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals of Virginia Woolf, 1897-1909 
edited by Mitchell Leaska.
Hogarth, 444 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 7012 0845 7
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A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 338 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 224 02234 2
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... earliest diaries are the worst. ‘Very foggy all morning, and we did not go out. Stella went to Laura, and was away for luncheon and tea. We lunched at 1, and afterwards went to the Zoo, bussing to Park Lane, and then to Baker St.’ ‘Father and I went for a walk after breakfast’; ‘I did not go out with father in the morning because he had a ...

Rotten as Touchwood

Loraine Fletcher, 21 September 1995

The Poems of Charlotte Smith 
edited by Stuart Curran.
Oxford, 335 pp., £35.50, March 1994, 9780195078732
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... children’s books. Her poems have been collected and admirably annotated by Stuart Curran at the Brown University Women Writers Project. The edition gathers together all the Elegiac Sonnets that appeared in the 1780s and 1790s, and two longish blank verse poems, ‘The Emigrants’ and ‘Beachy Head’, as well as animal fables and occasional verse more ...

Morgan to his Friends

Denis Donoghue, 2 August 1984

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... View of Life, ‘the blue of their linen shorts and the pale mauve of their shirts accenting the brown splendour of their bodies; and down by the sea many of them spend half their days naked and unrebuked.’ On other writers, Forster’s letters are illuminating, but it’s hard to know how truthful he is, and how willing to bend the truth for someone’s ...

Family Business

Fred Halliday, 17 July 1997

... the Islamic vigilantes attached to the Ministry of the Interior, who tour the city in brown jeeps, harassing inadequately covered women and anyone who fails to observe the hours of prayer. Investigations into the second bomb remain even more obscure: there have been many arrests in areas suspected of fundamentalist influence, both Sunni and ...

Four Thousand, Tops

Michael Wood: Headlong by Michael Frayn, 14 October 1999

by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 395 pp., £16.99, August 1999, 0 571 20051 6
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... suggested by the triangle of muddy green flannel shirt above it is counteracted by his muddy brown tie. He even has a gun, properly broken, in the crook of his arm. Tony’s invitation is not just friendliness, of course, a bit of that country hospitality which makes people rush round to greet you after you’ve been there a few years. He has a few ...

Perseverate My Doxa

Emily Witt: What's up, Maggie Nelson?, 16 December 2021

On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint 
by Maggie Nelson.
Jonathan Cape, 288 pp., £20, September 2021, 978 1 78733 269 0
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... Koestenbaum, Gertrude Stein, George Oppen, Robin D.G. Kelley, Judith Butler, Fred Moten and Wendy Brown. In as far as this amorphous work can be defined, On Freedom is an example of a recent genre that takes as its subject the phenomenon of mass scolding on the left – you could call it ‘cancel culture’, though she doesn’t – and makes a plea for a ...


Emily Witt: Rachel Kushner, 2 August 2018

The Mars Room 
by Rachel Kushner.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910702 67 3
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... a self-described ‘prunaholic and a horndog’. (Prison wine is called ‘pruno’.) There is Laura Lipp, the only other white woman in the unit besides Romy, a loopy committer of infanticide who compares herself to Medea. Sammy Fernandez, Romy’s closest friend, is the child of an addict and has spent a lifetime in and out of institutions, beginning ...

The Least Accountable Regime in the Middle East

Ed Harriman: On the Take in Iraq, Part 3, 2 November 2006

US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction 
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US Government Accountability Office 
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US Congressional Research Service 
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US Department of State 
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Kurdistan Regional Government 
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... be a showcase for American generosity. It was a joint venture of Bechtel and Project Hope, one of Laura Bush’s favourite charities, overseen by USAID. Congressional Democrats questioned whether Iraq needed a state of the art 94-bed paediatric unit when existing hospitals were in dire need of basic repairs and medical supplies. The contract was signed ...

Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs, 17 July 2008

Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... which is a sign of how vivid the early traumas remain. She likes both Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, and resents Downing Street’s failure to make better use of her as an ‘asset’, but doesn’t notice that the two presidential wives have a clarity to their respective roles that she never seeks in her own. She eventually sees through Carole ...

In Farageland

James Meek, 9 October 2014

... had organised and was chairing the event, had managed to pull in South Thanet’s sitting Tory MP, Laura Sandys, a believer in EU membership who is standing down at the next election, and the candidates from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. I watched Farage while the others were taking their turns to speak. Photographs and news footage always show ...

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