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Not Enough Delilahs

Andrew O’Hagan: Lillian Ross, 4 July 2019

Picture 
by Lillian Ross.
NYRB, 219 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... I’ve never met​ anybody who hated as many people as Lillian Ross did. She would count their names off on her fingers, regularly within spitting distance of them, and her voice wasn’t quiet and she wasn’t shy. Bending back each digit and making a face, she’d offer a defining word after each name:Gloria Steinem – phoneyJanet Malcolm – pretentiousRenata Adler – crackpotSusan Sontag – nobodyNora Ephron – liarOther hand:Kenneth Tynan – creepTruman Capote – leechGeorge Plimpton – slickTom Wolfe – talentlessPhilip Roth – jerkIt was a mercy she only had two hands ...

They Supped with the King

Bee Wilson: Mistresses, 6 January 2011

Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman 
by Elizabeth Abbott.
Duckworth, 510 pp., £20, 0 7156 3946 3
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... themselves in a book subtitled ‘A History of the Other Woman’). When the New Yorker writer Lillian Ross embarked on a relationship with William Shawn, the magazine’s married editor, she couldn’t even bear to call it ‘having an affair’, never mind ‘mistressdom’. In Ross’s view, a mistress was ‘a ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote, 2 April 1998

Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... on his first Monday in ballet pumps and a little black cape. ‘What is that?’ asked Harold Ross. The runner’s pencil-sharpening colleagues left the great editor none the wiser. ‘He was an absolutely gorgeous apparition,’ said Brendan Gill: fluttering, flitting up and down the corridors of the magazine. He was indeed tiny. He and Miss Terry, our ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... old friend of mine – gets into full academic scuba-diving gear to paddle in the shallows of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer tales. Borges, Barthes, Lacan, Lévi-Strauss, Robbe-Grillet and Todorov are only some of the weights he clips on his wet suit: but he can dive no deeper than Archer’s facile psychologising. Reading him, even so, I got the bends. As ...

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