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I just hate the big guy

Christopher Tayler: Reacher, 4 February 2016

Make Me 
by Lee Child.
Bantam, 425 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 593 07388 9
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Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of ‘Make Me’ 
by Andy Martin.
Bantam, 303 pp., £18.99, November 2015, 978 0 593 07663 7
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... a Texan who drove a Renault 5, marketed as ‘Le Car’ in the US. The Texan had pronounced it ‘Lee Car’, and the Grants still spoke of passing ‘lee salt’ and looking after ‘lee child’. So in 1997 Grant became Lee Child for the ...

Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: ‘The Bestseller Code’, 17 November 2016

... and so on. The plots of Stephen King, Jackie Collins, Dan Brown, Sylvia Day, Danielle Steel, Lee Child and James Patterson all, apparently, have a similar shape, and the curve of The Da Vinci Code is identical in its measuring out of highs and lows until the very end of the novel: Dan Brown finishes his book on an upbeat where E.L. James, in ...

The Oak Coffer

Lee Harwood, 8 August 2013

... quietly.’ You made a toy fort from scraps of wood, painted it late on winter evenings when the child was asleep. The steady drone of bombers overhead. The years pass. Beyond the plywood walls, out in the open, grief woven in our hearts. Martha Mavroidi sing, we may get ...

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist, 5 March 2020

... pushing with all my might, I experienced for a moment what I would feel for hours with my next child – the certainty that I was dying.‘To let the baby out,’ Maggie Nelson writes, ‘you have to be willing to go to pieces.’ ‘Just this is miraculous,’ Carole Maso writes. ‘That I ploughed without illusion towards death. Even as I gave ...

She’s a tiger-cat!

Miranda Seymour: Birds’ claw omelettes with Vernon Lee, 22 January 2004

Vernon LeeA Literary Biography 
by Vineta Colby.
Virginia, 387 pp., £32.50, May 2003, 0 8139 2158 9
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... the intelligent, abrasive and mannishly attired châtelaine of Il Palmerino in Fiesole. Vernon Lee, as Violet Paget was widely known, was then in her early forties. She had recently lost both her mother, from whom she had received scant affection, and the company of her most faithful woman friend, a tweedy, kind-hearted dog-lover called Kit ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey, 6 June 2002

directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... success in the making for nearly forty years, Spider-Man had been in the making in the mind of the child sitting behind me (at an 11 o’clock show at a multiplex in Brooklyn on 3 May, the earliest possible viewing for a member of the general public) for several months before the film’s opening, at least. Perhaps six years old, the ...

Uneasy Guest

Hermione Lee: Coetzee in London, 11 July 2002

by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 169 pp., £14.99, May 2002, 0 436 20582 3
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... childhood through the use of the third person, as in this sequel, or that that was a story of the child as secret agent or changeling, as an alien in his own family, school and country. At home, he resents his closeness to his mother, tyrannises his younger brother, and thinks of his father as an unwanted intruder. He leads a double life, and keeps his ...

Splashed with Stars

Susannah Clapp: In Stoppardian Fashion, 16 December 2021

Tom Stoppard: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Faber, 977 pp., £14.99, September, 978 0 571 31444 7
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... come to England as a boy but grown up in Communist Czechoslovakia.On nearly every page of Hermione Lee’s biography – the life as it has been, not as re-imagined – there is something arresting. In one instance it is a teasing secret: we are told that while he was writing The Real Thing, and married to his second wife, there was something Stoppard ‘got ...

All Reputation

Hermione Lee: Eliza and Clara, 17 October 2002

The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 230 pp., £12.99, September 2002, 0 224 06269 7
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by Janice Galloway.
Cape, 425 pp., £10.99, June 2002, 0 224 05049 4
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... between Eliza Lynch and Clara, where the pianos we first see from the vantage point of the small child are ‘brutes’, ‘unwieldy lumps’, with ‘varnished edges sharp enough to cut, snap-shut lids, shin-battering pedals, stops, stands’ and ‘brown bull legs’. Nothing romantic about pianos here: they are doggedly, massively real, objects of ...

Like Colonel Sanders

Christopher Tayler: The Stan Lee Era, 2 December 2021

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee 
by Abraham Riesman.
Bantam, 320 pp., £20, February, 978 0 593 13571 6
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Stan LeeA Life in Comics 
by Liel Leibovitz.
Yale, 192 pp., £16.99, June 2020, 978 0 300 23034 5
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... except Mad magazine, and American comics became a little blander, until, in his own telling, Stan Lee came along and shook things up.Lee – the writer-editor who supervised the renaissance at Marvel Comics in the early 1960s that gave the world Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, Black Panther and the rest – spent ...

St Malcolm Martyr

Michael Wood, 25 March 1993

Malcolm X 
directed by Spike Lee.
May 1993
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By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of ‘Malcolm X’ 
by Spike Lee and Ralph Wiley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £7.99, February 1993, 0 09 928531 2
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Malcolm X: The Great Photographs 
compiled by Thulani Davis and Howard Chapnick.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 168 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 1 55670 317 1
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... collected in the Davis/Chapnick volume. ‘Authenticity is very important in any film,’ Lee says. ‘If you see a pack of cigarettes, we had to find old Chesterfields, or old whatever you might see in the shot.’ Denzel Washington manages not only uncannily to resemble Malcolm X but to project all kinds of edges and facets of his ...

Taking the Blame

Jean McNicol: Jennie Lee, 7 May 1998

Jennie LeeA Life 
by Patricia Hollis.
Oxford, 459 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 19 821580 0
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... In 1957 Jennie Lee wrote a long letter, which she did not send, to her husband Aneurin Bevan, asking him to give her ‘a little self-confidence’. The end of the letter makes it clear that Lee is really talking to herself: I don’t know quite what to do for the best. Shut up and take the consequences, sit tight on the safety valve, ease things a little by small squeals that humiliate me more than they annoy you or pretend that I am being ‘unselfish’ by not asking for your co-operation, by deceiving you into believing that all is well, a sick woman needs only a few more vitamin pills and she will cease bothering about anything except weeds in her garden ...


Lee Gillette: In Brussels, 7 January 2016

... that … we have a mum … we have a family … and that despite everything he remains her child. ‘He’ was his fugitive brother, Salah. It was riveting. It appeared unscripted, and earnest. The reporters for the most part refrained from filling those ponderous silences that were as much a part of what he said as the words. The question Belgium’s ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Other Atticus Finch, 30 July 2015

... I find​ it hard to believe that Harper Lee was actually in favour of publishing Go Set a Watchman, a rejected manuscript that lay among her papers for more than fifty years. Yet the book is now here and doing exactly the kind of damage that its wily author always felt it would. For a novelist, it’s one thing not to destroy a book and another thing to publish it, and the work they are calling the ‘publishing sensation of the year’ is merely a pre-hash of something that came to be known for its polished good nature ...


Hermione Lee: Katherine Anne Porter, 12 February 2009

Collected Stories and Other Writings 
by Katherine Anne Porter, edited by Darlene Harbour Unrue.
Library of America, 1039 pp., $40, October 2008, 978 1 59853 029 2
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... other people’s memory of the past, at which she had spent her life peering in wonder like a child at a magic lantern show. Ah, but there is my own life to come yet, she thought, my own life now and beyond. In the next ‘Miranda’ story, set in 1918 during the flu epidemic (in which Porter herself nearly died), home still haunts her dreams: ‘Too ...

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