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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, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... I’ve never met​ anybody who hated as many people as LillianRoss 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 ...

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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... disgust at the label of mistress (how happy they would have been to know that one day they would find themselves in a book subtitled ‘A History of the Other Woman’). When the New Yorker writer LillianRoss 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 ...

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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... really ambitious, and the effect, I’m afraid, is comic. Eric Mottram – an otherwise much respected 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 ...

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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... Capote Capote would have cared for. In 1944 he started to work as a runner at the New Yorker. He arrived 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 ...

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