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Favourite without Portfolio

Jonathan Meades: Designs for the Third Reich, 4 February 2016

Hitler at Home 
by Despina Stratigakos.
Yale, 373 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 300 18381 8
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Speer: Hitler’s Architect 
by Martin Kitchen.
Yale, 442 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 300 19044 1
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... appeal for a particular sensibility: gullible, cheek-turning, risibly generous, smugly liberal. Martin Kitchen does not possess that sensibility. Speer: Hitler’s Architect is not a biography. It is a 200,000-word charge sheet. Kitchen is steely, dogged and attentive to the small print. He shows Speer no ...

N.V. Rampant meets Martin Amis

N.V. Rampant, 18 October 1984

... This is the big one,’ I told myself nervously. ‘The Martin Amis interview. This is the one that could make you or break you.’ As I neared his front door my heart was in my mouth. No doubt he would have said it more cleverly. He would have said his heart was palpitating with trepidation like a poodle in heat in a monastery of mastiffs ...

The Clothes They Stood Up In

Alan Bennett, 28 November 1996

... a visit myself.’ Too late Mr Ransome realised he should have warned him and took refuge in the kitchen. The sergeant came out shaking his head. ‘Well at least our friends had the decency to use the toilet but they’ve left it in a disgusting state. I never thought I’d have to do a Jimmy Riddle over Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Her recording of West Side Story ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dream On, 27 June 2002

... But then again, it may just be that in a past life I helped sell rhinos to the ancient Greeks. Martin Amis, whatever he may have been in a past life, is currently turning into Gyles Brandreth. Blazoned across the Daily Telegraph on 13 June were pictures of the eminent novelist in sports kit that David Beckham might not be ashamed to be seen in. Pilates, we ...

Stage Kiss

Martin Crimp, 26 July 1990

... quite true that I have a gift for this kind of work. There’s a green felt noticeboard in the kitchen with the usual papers pinned all over it – this month’s calendar (it’s October), coupons for money off toothpaste, handy phone-numbers (plumber, pizzas, minicab), and among all these I notice that someone – presumably one of the children – has ...

Nothing but the Present

Lorna Scott Fox, 23 May 1996

The Law of Enclosures 
by Dale Peck.
Chatto, 287 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6160 4
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... thing the literary world noticed about Dale Peck was his youth. Now 28, he produced the harrowing Martin and John (attractively published in Britain as Fucking Martin) at 25. Why do we expect so little of the (not all that) young? Peck’s sophistication needs no excuse or applause on those grounds. There is something far ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford, 12 November 1998

... the hearth and range, Smashing duck eggs, throwing up clouds of flour. Fleeing the earth-floored kitchen, an ironing table Hirpled like girderwork from bombed Cologne Into the study where my Aunt Jean studied How not to be a skivvy all her life, While my dead uncle revved his BSA, Wiping used, oily hands on Flanders lace. Ministers primed themselves in ...

Return of the Male

Martin Amis, 5 December 1991

Iron John: A Book about Men 
by Robert Bly.
Element, 268 pp., £12.95, September 1991, 9781852302337
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The way men think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination 
by Liam Hudson and Bernadine Jacot.
Yale, 219 pp., £16.95, November 1991, 0 300 04997 8
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Utne Reader. Men, it’s time to pull together: The Politics of Masculinity 
Lens, 144 pp., $4, May 1991Show More
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... an old man, perhaps prematurely, what with all the washing-up he’s done; there he stands in the kitchen, a nappy in one hand, a pack of tarot cards in the other, with his sympathetic pregnancies, his hot flushes and ‘contact’ pre-menstrual tensions, and with a duped frown on his ageing face. The time is ripe. And now the back door swings open and in he ...

The Exorcist

Robert Crawford, 23 June 2005

... Maybe his granny’s Stories come back to haunt him, or it’s just That carbon copy of hell’s kitchen-stink, Dysart’s midnight pitch-black darkness, spooks him. The farmers cower. The exorcism goes on With no one except Lang having a clue, Though everybody hears groans, grumbles, voices Threatening, then chanted prayers, answers Flung out to questions ...

Short Cuts

Paul Myerscough: Iris Murdoch, 7 February 2002

... their limits are most obviously, uncomfortably exposed. It’s a familiar observation, repeated by Martin Amis in a recent review of Iris: where literature addresses the internal, cinema must always deal in the external. So, ‘romance’ in Iris is all jumpers and bicycles and giddy concupiscence; ‘cleverness’ is a scattering of easily digested aphorisms ...

Sinister Blandishments

Edmund White: Philip Hensher, 3 September 1998

by Philip Hensher.
Chatto, 304 pp., £14.99, August 1998, 0 7011 6728 9
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... at least attractive (‘lawns dark and wet as spinach’). Or the thoughts of another young man, Martin, one of Friedrich’s friends, become both fiendish and camp, though they sound slightly odd when we remember we’re supposedly reading a translation from the German. Take the hilarious moment when Martin very ...

Love among the Cheeses

Lidija Haas: Life with Amis and Ayer, 8 September 2011

The House in France: A Memoir 
by Gully Wells.
Bloomsbury, 307 pp., £16.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 0809 2
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... What would it have been like to fall in love with the young Martin Amis, ‘the most fascinating man’ Gully Wells had ever met? ‘Only the most awful clichés,’ she tells us, ‘could possibly do justice to the way I felt.’ He was ‘very funny and very clever’; ‘he made me laugh and told me things I didn’t know ...

The Things We Throw Away

Andrew O’Hagan: The Garbage of England, 24 May 2007

... The evening it was all over I emptied the latest rubbish onto some newspapers spread out on the kitchen floor – a cornflakes packet and old razor blades, apple cores and cotton buds. Looking through the stuff I felt how secret the story had been. I’d gone looking for the end but had always been brought back to this, the rubbish on the floor appearing ...


Ian Hamilton, 21 October 1982

Women Working: Prostitution Now 
by Eileen McLeod.
Croom Helm, 177 pp., £6.95, August 1982, 0 7099 1717 1
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An English Madam: The Life and Work of Cynthia Payne 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 166 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 224 02037 4
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All the Girls 
by Martin O’Brien.
Macmillan, 268 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 333 31099 3
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... and a few laughs, on Cynthia’s behalf. Her own attitude was summed up by the wall motto in her kitchen: ‘My house is CLEAN enough to be healthy ... and DIRTY enough to be happy.’ The oddity of Cynthia Payne is that she would take a dim view of the Sharon/Carol line on prostitution. She seems to have liked most of her clients, she talks of providing a ...


Melissa Denes: ‘The Slap’, 19 August 2010

The Slap 
by Christos Tsiolkas.
Tuskar Rock, 485 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 1 84887 355 1
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... jumble of children, family, friends, colleagues who aren’t mixing. There is chaos in the kitchen, the guests are drinking too fast, and the host, Hector, has taken two lines of speed. The day is glorious, ‘a lush late summer afternoon, with a clear blue sky’, the conditions near perfect for catastrophe. One of the children, an ...

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