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Palimpsest History

Jonathan Coe, 11 June 1992

by Adam Thorpe.
Secker, 382 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 436 52074 5
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by Leslie Dick.
Secker, 244 pp., £13.99, May 1992, 0 436 20011 2
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Frankie Styne and the Silver Man 
by Kathy Page.
Methuen, 233 pp., £13.99, April 1992, 0 413 66590 9
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... and returning.’ This observation comes not from Ulverton but from the penultimate page of Leslie Dick’s second novel, Kicking. The thematic connection seems obvious enough, but the exhumations in Dick’s book are exclusively psychological – buried memories pulled up by the root in a willed act of ...

Cromwell’s Coven

John Sutherland, 4 June 1987

by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 390 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14823 9
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Without Falling 
by Leslie Dick.
Serpent’s Tail, 153 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 1 85242 005 7
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by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 360 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 233 98110 1
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... Without Falling opens with a quotation from a guiltily voyeuristic Jane Eyre. Following this cue, Dick’s is a novel which observes a woman through a series of distressing past and present passages. The title can be understood with reference to the last scene, in which the principal lovers, Tracy and David, find themselves alone in a lift. They kiss, she ...

Death (and Life) of the Author

Peter Wollen: Kathy Acker, 5 February 1998

... of others – Harold Robbins or Cervantes or Ian Fleming or Propertius. Recently, on the radio, Leslie Dick remarked that Kathy Acker’s writing was an extension of her reading, that her plagiarism was a way of reading, or rereading, appropriating and customising what she read, writing herself, so to speak, into the fabric of the original text. Acker ...


Stephen Sedley: Judge Dredd, 7 June 2007

... possibly the judge or possibly the high sheriff who, in doublet and hose like the principal boy in Dick Whittington, would be crammed with his unmanageable sword into the dicky-seat behind the driver. Although not having to adorn my head with horsehair every time I go into court will be a relief, an even bigger relief (if it happens, which is still not ...

American Manscapes

Richard Poirier, 12 October 1989

Manhood and the American Renaissance 
by David Leverenz.
Cornell, 372 pp., $35.75, April 1989, 0 8014 2281 7
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... American writers. With some notable exceptions early on, like F.O. Matthiessen, Marius Bewley and Leslie Fiedler, in Harold Bloom’s critical admixture of Emerson and Wilde, and in the work now being done by a few young Americanists, this sort of oversight has been par for the course of American studies, where the making of English-American connections ...

Imperial Graveyard

Samuel Moyn: Richard Holbrooke, 6 February 2020

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century 
by George Packer.
Cape, 592 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 1 910702 92 5
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... that Holbrooke ‘wouldn’t recognise his own grandchildren in a toddler line-up’.He was ‘Dick’ for most of his life until Marton ‘enforced a transition’ to the more ‘genteel’ Richard. In one marvellously awkward scene, Packer tells us that Holbrooke hesitantly corrected Obama when the president referred to him as ‘...


Gary Indiana: Nymphomania, antic incest and metaphysical torment, 14 December 2006

Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker 
edited by Amy Scholder, Carla Harryman and Avital Ronell.
Verso, 120 pp., £10.99, May 2006, 9781844670666
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... often a considerable disparity between what Acker thought she was doing and what she actually did. Leslie Dick’s ‘17 Paragraphs on Kathy Acker’ is an affectionate, funny, moving series of verbal snapshots that make Acker more vividly present than the other essays manage. Dick recalls Acker’s eccentricities and ...


Stephen Holmes: ‘Bomb Power’, 8 April 2010

Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State 
by Garry Wills.
Penguin Press, 278 pp., $27.95, January 2010, 978 1 59420 240 7
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... anybody, he doesn’t have to call the Congress, he doesn’t have to check with the courts. Dick Cheney, Fox News 21 December 2008 In passing the 1946 Atomic Energy Act, Congress granted the president unsupervised authority over the bomb, ‘for such use as he deems necessary in the interest of national defence’. The ‘nature of the ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... and interest, and May briefly – too briefly – kindles to it. Woolf compacted her father, Sir Leslie Stephen, and those like him, into a double-headed institution, ‘Eton-Cambridge’. (Bruce Richmond was, in fact, Winchester-Oxford.) They kept the cultural wheels of Empire turning, and were necessary, ‘like Roman roads’. The TLS was stuffed with ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe, 3 April 2014

The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... and ‘Prufrock’ and lines from Walter Bagehot and Suetonius than a truly plain-speaking private dick ought to be. When the drunken novelist tells him that good stuff is written fast, and that claims to the contrary are ‘a lot of mish-mash’, he says: ‘It didn’t come easy to Flaubert, and his stuff is good.’ Gloomy in-jokes of that sort – Chandler ...

Living on the Edge

R.W. Johnson: Nukes, 28 April 2011

Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939-49 
by Jim Baggott.
Icon, 576 pp., £10.99, November 2009, 978 1 84831 082 7
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The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers and the Prospects for a World without Nuclear Weapons 
by Richard Rhodes.
Knopf, 366 pp., $27.95, August 2010, 978 0 307 26754 2
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Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers 
by Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi.
ICNND, 294 pp., November 2009, 978 1 921612 14 5
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... I have seen in this war’. But the plant limped back into production a few months later. General Leslie Groves, directing the Allied bomb effort at Los Alamos, insisted on a bombing raid. In November 1943, 300 bombers attacked Hydro, scoring only two hits but killing 22 civilians. It was just as the Resistance had feared. But the Germans got the point: the ...

Schadenfreude with Bite

Richard Seymour: Trolling, 15 December 2016

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture 
by Whitney Phillips.
MIT, 256 pp., £10, September 2016, 978 0 262 52987 7
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Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral 
by Karla Mantilla.
Praeger, 280 pp., £32, August 2015, 978 1 4408 3317 5
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Bad Clowns 
by Benjamin Radford.
New Mexico, 188 pp., £12, February 2016, 978 0 8263 5666 6
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Trolls: An Unnatural History 
by John Lindow.
Reaktion, 60 pp., £9.99, August 2015, 978 1 78023 565 3
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... controversialising. He was banned for spearheading a campaign of racist abuse aimed at the actor Leslie Jones, who starred as the only black member of the all-woman team in the remake of Ghostbusters. Twitter’s former CEO, Dick Costolo, admitted that the company’s failure to combat bullying on its platform was part of ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... the compere in the variety show Rainbow Round the Corner. Along with the BBC’s senior announcer, Leslie Mitchell, he became a voice of authority, the tone of war and peace, the man whom people heard in the cinema on the newsreels produced by British Movietone. Gamlin was a star. Terence Gallacher, who worked for Movietone at the time, remembers him visiting ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... Olivier, whom she did not, finding him selfish, offhand and cold. He was however preferable to Leslie Howard, who with his girlfriend for a time shared a house with the Havelock-Allans. Valerie’s best-known films were Great Expectations and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Having impressed the composer Richard Rodgers (Rodgers and Hammerstein) in New York, she ...

The Basic Couple

Benjamin Kunkel: Norman Rush, 24 October 2013

Subtle Bodies 
by Norman Rush.
Granta, 234 pp., £14.99, October 2013, 978 1 84708 780 5
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... has been doubted whether in the US we have produced any at all. Or so things stood in 1960, when Leslie Fiedler published Love and Death in the American Novel, four years after Norman Rush graduated from Swarthmore College, where he met the woman whose ‘heart, sensibility and intellect are so signally – if perforce esoterically – celebrated and ...

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