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Fue el estado

Tony Wood: Elmer Mendoza

1 June 2016
Silver Bullets 
by Elmer Mendoza, translated by Mark Fried.
MacLehose Press, 240 pp., £14.99, April 2015, 978 1 85705 258 9
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... piso a alguien, literally ‘to give someone floor’, means to rub them out; encobijado, which Mark Fried renders rather dubiously as ‘gangsta-wrap’, refers to a dead body wrapped in a blanket (cobija) and left in a public place – one of the narcos’ grisly calling cards. It’s not just the Sinaloan narco-lexicon that makes Mendoza’s prose ...

We Do Ron Ron Ron, We Do Ron Ron

James Meek: Welcome to McDonald’s

24 May 2001
Fast-Food Nation 
by Eric Schlosser.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7139 9602 1
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... with steam, blasted through the Knife, screened and trimmed for blemishes, blanched, dried, deep-fried, quick-frozen, sorted into six-pound bags and packed into boxes – with a minimum of human intervention. At McDonald’s and the other chains, everything is cooked from frozen, rehydrated from powder or reconstituted from syrup. At International Flavours ...

Flirting with Dissolution

Mark Ford: August Kleinzahler

5 April 2001
Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems 1975-90 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 82 pp., £8.99, September 2000, 0 571 20428 7
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... hearts In the final lines their legacy is presented equivocally as ‘celluloid in flames,/the fried image and random splice,/wild parabolas, butchery’. While this poem betrays more than a trace of anxiety about his indebtedness to O’Hara, it also keeps its distance from Pollock and O’Hara’s melodramatic ‘culte de soi’. In their differing ...

Blimey

Gillian Darley: James Stirling

7 September 2000
Big Jim: The Life and Work of James Stirling 
by Mark Girouard.
Pimlico, 323 pp., £14, March 2000, 9780712664226
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... tiny fragments of glass are assembled to form a picture – not always in the best possible taste. Mark Girouard’s biography of James Stirling is constructed by a similar procedure, an astonishing accumulation of small details, asides and memories building up to a portrait. Big Jim is vividly told and convincingly three-dimensional. And it isn’t always in ...

Hagiophagy

Elaine Showalter

2 October 1997
Impossible Saints 
by Michèle Roberts.
Little, Brown, 308 pp., £14.99, May 1997, 0 316 63957 5
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... rich lunches of olives, rabbit pâté and figs; leisurely dinners of saucisses de Toulouse, fried aubergines, peaches and red wine. She luxuriates in the rituals and décor of the boudoir – a nightgown of ‘eau-de-nil silk with pencil shoulder straps’, coral toe-nail polish, laceedged linen pillows, vases of mauve sweetpeas. For three days she ...
7 March 1996
Garbage 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, 121 pp., £7.50, February 1995, 0 393 31203 8
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Tape for the Turn of the Year 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, 205 pp., £8.95, February 1995, 0 393 31204 6
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Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 93 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17431 0
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The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs 
by Charles Simic.
Michigan, 127 pp., £30, January 1996, 0 472 06569 6
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Frightening Toys 
by Charles Simic.
Faber, 101 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17399 3
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The Ghost of Eden 
by Chase Twichell.
Faber, 78 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17434 5
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... its reflections on ‘motions / and intermotions’, and surely was and now most certainly is remarkable only for having been written on a roll of adding-machine tape. With the tape’s length and breadth determining its shape and size, Tape for the Turn of the Year quite literally invites readers to never mind the quality but feel the width; when Ammons ...

Earthworm on Zither

Paul Grimstad: Raymond Roussel

26 April 2012
Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey, 280 pp., £10.99, June 2011, 978 1 56478 624 1
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New Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Ford.
Princeton, 264 pp., £16.95, April 2011, 978 0 691 14459 7
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... the re-enactments. In an informative introduction to his translation of Impressions d’Afrique, Mark Polizzotti describes in some detail his effort to arrive at an English comparable to Roussel’s near mathematically concise French. The author of a biography of Breton, a short book on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, and a translator of Echenoz, among ...

Think Tiny

Mark Ford: Nancification

17 July 2008
The Nancy Book 
by Joe Brainard.
Siglio, 144 pp., $39.50, April 2008, 978 0 9799562 0 1
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... a series of assemblages that made loving use of cigarette butts, lobster claws, a rubber fried egg, Madonnas, an American Indian’s head, 7-Up bottle caps, ostrich feathers, a moose statuette, pink rubber snakes, crucifixes, purple plastic grapes. Almost a year spent in such poverty that he took up panhandling seems to have enabled Brainard to see ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts

9 May 2019
k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... Mark Fisher​ killed himself on 13 January 2017, at the house in Felixstowe he shared with his wife and young son. His mental health had been deteriorating, according to the Ipswich Star’s report of the inquest, since the previous May. His wife, Zoe, told the inquest that they had been seeking help for him, but the local NHS trust hadn’t been able to offer anything beyond a telephone chat with a GP ...

Amazing Sushi

Jessica Olin: Nani Power

23 August 2001
Crawling at Night 
by Nani Power.
Heinemann, 234 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 434 00856 7
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... 42 years, his day has begun before dawn, as he picks out the best cuts of tuna and flatfish at the market and makes shopping lists. During the day, as he expertly shapes handfuls of rice and makes miso soup, his mind is filled with images from the diaries of the courtesan Murasaki Shikibu and her famous Tale of Genji. But while in his native language Ito can ...

Plenty of Puff

Charles West: Charlemagne

9 December 2019
King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne 
by Janet Nelson.
Allen Lane, 704 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 7139 9243 4
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... of Charlemagne in many languages since then, not least the wave that arrived around 2014 to mark the duodecentenary of his death, but few have been as ambitiously biographical as Nelson’s. Historians of early medieval Europe are trained to interpret scattered clues and fragments, however, and Nelson is one of the very best; she can also draw on her ...

At the Hayward

Marina Warner: Tracey Emin

25 August 2011
... International failed and her father left, the family lived in a council flat above a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. The story is gripping and appalling, and there is much more in the same vein. But she is indomitable, she is fortune’s child, carried to fame by her gifts, her jolie-laide charm, her naive expressiveness and emotional sincerity, her ...

The School of English

Hilary Mantel: ‘The School of English’: A Story

6 May 2015
... hard and could have used some cushions. There was a lavatory with a cold block of soap, a supermarket soap inferior to that in the rest of the house. Why? she wondered. Why sink your standards of comfort? She saw how, from week to week, the green lavatory cleaner in the unflushed bowl would pool, a verdant lake deepening. Against the far wall there was a ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton

1 June 2000
45 
by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... Hoxton and Shoreditch were on the wrong side of the Roman wall, a dog-end territory of street markets and unlicensed boxers. The 1990s had seen the area – birthplace of Lenny ‘The Guv’nor’ McLean, the Kray Twins et al – mutate from a criminous warren, twinned with the Jago, to a user-friendly film location. The sort of place Neil Jordan could ...
17 November 1983
The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge Luis Borges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... Lucifer very seriously. In fact, the very title of Legion, which is borrowed from the Gospel of St Mark, presupposes a cosmological theory of considerable precision and sophistication. Rarely has the detective’s need to trace the link between a series of apparently unco-ordinated killings sought justification in so imposing a theological scheme. What the ...

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