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What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary, 13 September 2018

The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve BrennanHomesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... Maeve Brennan​ could stop traffic. According to her colleague Roger Angell, she laid waste to a ‘dozen-odd’ writers and artists after the New Yorker hired her as a staff writer in 1949. She makes a cameo as the magazine’s ‘resident Circe’ in a biography of the cartoonist Charles Addams; legend tells that she was Truman Capote’s inspiration for Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s ...

A Traveller in Residence

Mary Hawthorne, 13 November 1997

... people, and in a way you could say she had become one. The receptionist told me her name: Maeve Brennan. I had never heard of her, though for nearly thirty years she had been a staff writer – one of the gifted ones, with a steady cult following among the magazine’s younger writers. And I did not know that, a few years earlier, after suffering a severe ...

This beats me

Stephen Sedley: The Drafter’s Contract, 2 April 1998

Statutory Interpretation 
by Francis Bennion.
Butterworth, 1092 pp., £187, December 1997, 0 406 02126 0
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Law and Interpretation 
edited by Andrei Marmor.
Oxford, 463 pp., £18.99, October 1997, 0 19 826487 9
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Equality before the Law: Deaf People’s Access to Justice 
by Mary Brennan and Richard Brown.
Deaf Studies Research Unit, University of Durham, 189 pp., £17.50, October 1997, 0 9531779 0 4
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... So, then,’ says a founding father, quill poised, to the founding fathers around him in Gary Larson’s cartoon, ‘Would that be “Us the people” or “We the people”?’ If deciding what to write is tough, interpreting what gets written is tougher. Turgid texts need unravelling; obscure provisions need deciphering; occasional nonsense needs correcting; perfectly clear texts may be impossible to apply to novel situations ...

I want to howl

John Lahr: Eugene O’Neill, 5 February 2015

Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts 
by Robert Dowling.
Yale, 569 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17033 7
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... at the age of 65, his widow and third wife, Carlotta Monterey, was visited by his cousin Agnes Brennan, the only relative O’Neill regularly saw, who told her about O’Neill’s childhood. ‘Unwanted, no love or tenderness, no care, no discipline, no protection!’ Monterey wrote in her diary. ‘If I had only known this fully – not in bits and ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... have been intimidated by him but he was popular with his staff and particularly with the women. Mary Judd, the librarian at the issue desk at Hull, thought that ‘most women liked him more than most men because he could talk to a woman and make her feel unique and valuable.’ In last year’s Selected Letters there is a photo of him with the staff of the ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... into the avid imaginations of legions of onlookers who didn’t know Walter Benjamin from Walter Brennan. Fascinated by Greta Garbo (‘I wanted to be Garbo,’ she wrote in her diary), Sontag managed to fashion a Garboesque mystique while carrying out the garrulous duties of a public intellectual for decades: speeches, interviews, conferences, symposia, all ...

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