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Life and Work

Philip Horne, 8 May 1986

Falling apart 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 190 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 436 44087 3
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Memoirs of Many in One 
by Alex Xenophon Demirjian Gray, edited by Patrick White.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, April 1986, 0 224 02371 3
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Free Agents 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 197 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13852 7
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... power, ‘however squalid’. If Patrick White is preoccupied with ‘the great creative ego’, Max Apple, a Jewish Mid-Westerner living in Houston, often goes back to the original Creator in the stories in Free Agents, his excellent first collection. In ‘Stranger at the Table’, an autobiographical essay about the impediments to, and the ...

Between Kisses

Peter McDonald, 1 October 1987

The Propheteers 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 306 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14878 6
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A Summer Affair 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 263 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7011 3140 3
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People For Lunch 
by Georgina Hammick.
Methuen, 191 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 413 14900 5
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... eccentric, demonstrable only in the special surroundings of highly-coloured fiction provided by Max Apple’s The Propheteers, which makes them into the threads of a very uncomfortable web indeed, one in which post-war American society is caricatured with remorseless precision, its values inflated into religious terms that seem ludicrous only at ...

Bad Dads

Zachary Leader, 6 April 1995

In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of a Lost War 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 210 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1919 6
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Tallien: A Brief Romance 
by Frederic Tuten.
Marion Boyars, 152 pp., £9.95, November 1994, 0 7145 2990 7
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Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story 
by Max Apple.
Little, Brown, 241 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 316 91241 7
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... unequal to the complex of feelings evoked by the main historical narrative. The rock upon which Max Apple builds his life in Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story is Herman ‘Rocky’ Goodstein, as whole and undismayable a self as ever lived. ‘Rocky’, Apple’s maternal grandfather, was born in Lithuania in ...

Sour Apple

José Harris, 5 July 1984

H.G. Wells: Aspects of a Life 
by Anthony West.
Hutchinson, 405 pp., £12.95, June 1984, 0 09 134540 5
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Heritage 
by Anthony West.
Secker, 305 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 56592 7
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... West at two was an outstandingly beautiful child, and one might have expected him to be the apple of Rebecca’s eye. Instead he was at best an inconvenience, at worst a pawn in her ritual game with his father. In such a background there was much to wound a small child. Anthony West has written two books about his parents’ relationship: a ...

Living on Apple Crumble

August Kleinzahler: James Schuyler, 17 November 2005

Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-91 
edited by William Corbett.
Turtle Point, 470 pp., £13.99, May 2005, 1 885586 30 2
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... European literature is, really, the big influence,’ mentioning, among others, Reverdy, Max Jacob, Breton, Supervielle, Apollinaire and, somewhat surprisingly, Pasternak, who ‘has meant more to us than any American poet. Even in monstrous translations his lyrics make the hair on the back of one’s neck curl.’ The ‘monstrous ...

Prince Arthur

Paul Addison, 21 August 1980

Balfour 
by Max Egremont.
Collins, 391 pp., £12.95, June 1980, 0 00 216043 9
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... his relations so vigorously that his administration became known as the ‘Hotel Cecil’, and the apple of his eye was undoubtedly his nephew, Arthur Balfour. A delicate and bookish young man, Balfour was at first written off by men of the world as a bit of a cissy. At Cambridge he was nicknamed ‘Pretty Fanny’, and it was noted that instead ...

In the Turner Gallery

Peter Campbell: Coleridge’s Note-Taking, 26 February 2009

... their observations.’ J.M.W. Turner, ‘Staffa, Fingal’s Cave’ (1832) It reads like a Max Beerbohm caricature. On the other hand, in the poems, letters and journals Holmes quotes there are things noticed which convince you that note-taking is an essential part of a poet’s job. Observation becomes vigorous engagement: ‘My Glass, being opposite ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony Howard, 25 January 1996

Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... Daily Mail and then by its own subsequent and most famous owner, Lord Beaverbrook, who, as Sir Max Aitken, had effectively taken control of the Daily Express in 1915. Perhaps there was always something a bit archaic about the Standard as a national daily. For all the fame of its foreign correspondents – the boys’ author G.A. Henty was one – or the ...

I’m here to be mad

Christopher Benfey: Robert Walser, 10 May 2018

Walks with Robert Walser 
by Carl Seelig, translated by Anne Posten.
New Directions, 127 pp., £11.99, May 2017, 978 0 8112 2139 9
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Girlfriends, Ghosts and Other Stories 
by Robert Walser, translated by Tom Whalen, Nicole Köngeter and Annette Wiesner.
NYRB, 181 pp., £9.99, October 2016, 978 1 68137 016 3
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... Karl, the city’s leading theatre designer, lived in fashionable Charlottenburg, staged plays for Max Reinhardt, and was close friends with the artists of the Berlin Secession, for whom Robert briefly, and fecklessly, served as secretary. But he seems to have lacked even the most elementary skills in what he called ‘social instinct’. He ‘boozed ...

Diary

David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... to suggest I write article on two exhibitions in London next month: Man Ray photos at Barbican, Max Ernst at Tate. Thursday 10: Ron Stocker to lunch. Listened to ‘Schönberg in Hollywood’ on Radio 3. Wrote to thank Jean-Claude, and send him copy of Jean Follain collection in the Poésie series. Judy tired and seems indifferent to the fate of the ...

Coup de Guinness

Robert Morley, 5 December 1985

Blessings in Disguise 
by Alec Guinness.
Hamish Hamilton, 238 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 241 11681 3
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... telegram invited Guinness to the occasion, even though as Edith Sitwell had confided earlier to Max Adrian, ‘Alec Guinness is not a Plantagenet.’ He was asked to stay at Renishaw with his wife and infant son, but the latter had to be concealed from Osbert, who was allergic to babies. Dinner was interrupted by the butler’s announcement that young ...

Trust me

Steven Shapin: French DNA, 27 April 2000

French DNA: Trouble in Purgatory 
by Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 201 pp., £17.50, October 1999, 0 226 70150 6
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... DNA research. That book was explicitly offered as an ethnographic meditation on a theme from Max Weber, and so, too, is French DNA. In his 1917 lecture ‘Science as a Vocation’, Weber explored the tension between virtue and expertise, autonomy and institutional discipline, in the changing identity of 20th-century intellectuals and in the moral ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... read, which does not mean to say that it may be absorbed, in the time it takes to polish off your apple and cheese. Prose, if it happens to be Dostoevskian epic with injections of Tolstoy, will keep you busy for a solid month and easily stop you getting on with whatever it is you are supposed to be doing if you are not Anthony Burgess. About as quickly as I ...

Sashimi with a Side of Fries

Adam Thirlwell: Michael Chabon, 16 August 2007

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union 
by Michael Chabon.
Fourth Estate, 414 pp., £17.99, June 2007, 978 0 00 715039 7
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... evening meals of the lonely souls of Sitka, she has prepared several dozen slices of pickled crab apple on lettuce leaves. She tricks out Landsman’s dinner with one of these corsages.’ And then there are the metaphors. The Verbover rabbi’s breasts are ‘full and pendulous, each tipped with a pink lentil of a nipple’. A teabag is dunked in a ...

The Great Accumulator

John Sturrock: W.G. Grace, 20 August 1998

W.G. Grace: A Life 
by Simon Rae.
Faber, 548 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 571 17855 3
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W.G.’s Birthday Party 
by David Kynaston.
Night Watchman, 154 pp., £13, May 1998, 0 9532360 0 5
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... Testimonial Fund raised the equivalent of quarter of a million of our contemporary pounds, Max Beerbohm drew what was for him an unusually mordant cartoon, in which (I quote from Rae) a ‘huge Grace with bulging biceps stands in the foreground with a minuscule cricket bat in one hand and a large cheque in the other, while behind him the funeral ...

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