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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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... own name’s catchiness too, and again a family joke got him thinking. A few years earlier he’d met 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 ‘leechild’. So in 1997 Grant became LeeChild for the publication of Killing Floor, the first novel in a ...

Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: ‘The Bestseller Code’

17 November 2016
... up; then they have sex and it is fun; then she learns about Grey’s ‘dark side’ and his ‘rules’; and so on. The plots of Stephen King, Jackie Collins, Dan Brown, Sylvia Day, Danielle Steel, LeeChild 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 ...

The Oak Coffer

Lee​ Harwood

8 August 2013
... along the edge of the wood as you pass by. Keep this memory close of dear virtue. ‘Say that to me 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 through ...

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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... to become one of the acolytes who received intellectual instruction and an occasional chaste kiss from 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 ...
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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... accurate, full of the exact looks of old icons, minutely close to many of the marvellous photographs 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 ...

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 ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey

6 June 2002
Spider-Man 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... An overnight 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 ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Other Atticus Finch

29 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 ...

Diary

August Kleinzahler: Too Bad about Mrs Ferri

20 September 2001
... block where we lived. TV trucks and news reporters were clustered at the gates to the long drive leading up to Albert Anastasia’s enormous Spanish Mission-style home. The Palisades section of Fort Lee, New Jersey, then as now, was a sleepy, leafy enclave, overlooking the Upper West Side, a mile or so across the Hudson. My mother came out the front door of our house, walked up to me, knelt down ...

In the Potato Patch

Jenny Turner: Penelope Fitzgerald

19 December 2013
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 508 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 7011 8495 7
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... She made her own clothes from material bought in the sales, and seemed never to acquire a handbag: acquaintances remember a trusty William Morris carrier, and she took a spongebag, Hermione Lee reports, to the Booker dinner. In her letters she uses the dotty-lady schtick for two main purposes. It’s there to entertain and mollify her daughters, on whom she depended for all sorts of things ...

Insouciance

Anne Hollander: Wild Lee​ Miller

20 July 2006
Lee​ Miller 
by Carolyn Burke.
Bloomsbury, 426 pp., £12.99, March 2006, 0 7475 8793 0
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... Lee Miller invented her first name as if to veil her femaleness when she was a society beauty and fashion model in the 1920s. It went along with a new shift in the style of sexual excitement, a new ...

Oswaldworld

Andrew O’Hagan

14 December 1995
Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 791 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 316 87620 8
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... Schiller would find himself in Moscow. The new documents would bear on many things, but Schiller, as usual anything but slow on the uptake, knew they might tell us something we needed to know about Lee Harvey Oswald, perhaps the most mysterious and most tragic American figure in the age of Schiller. If the gods of reason were attentive, it would make sense for him to be reunited with his sparring ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy

6 June 2002
Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... would have been in Henry James. She was, to begin with, Maisie in What Maisie Knew. Clearly, she loathed and feared and needed the approval of her snobbish, dull, shrieking and ambitious mother Janet Lee Bouvier as much as Maisie loathed and feared and needed her mother; she flirted with her father, who drank and spent money and flirted in turn with anyone who came his way. Her parents made no secret ...

Diary

Jonathan Lethem: My Marvel Years

15 April 2004
... had left behind a collection of 1960s Marvel comics in sacrosanct box files. These included a nearly complete run of The Fantastic Four, the famous 102 issues drawn by Jack Kirby and scripted by Stan Lee, a defining artefact (I now know) of the Silver Age of comics.Luke was precocious, worldly, full of a satirical brilliance I didn’t always understand but pretended to, as I pretended to understand ...

Pioneering

Janet Todd

21 December 1989
Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up 
by Hermione Lee.
Virago, 409 pp., £12.99, October 1989, 0 86068 661 2
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... France and Isabelle – who would die in 1938 – adding her love of France to that of Quebec, where she set her 17th-century novel: Shadows on the Rock rather sentimentally describes, through a child protagonist, the gracious, admired culture of the past. Now in her sixties, Cather was monumental in character and achievement, rocklike to many, stern, undoubting, assured, severe and undemocratic ...

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