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Other People’s Capital

John Lanchester: Conrad and Barbara Black

14 December 2006
Conrad and Lady BlackDancing on the Edge 
by Tom Bower.
Harper, 436 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 00 723234 9
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... Conrad Black is not the only tycoon to have dreamed of global domination while buying and selling newspapers, and he is not the only tycoon to have had people fawning over him on the way up and shunning him on ...

Rainy Days

Gabriele Annan

18 September 1997
The File on H 
by Ismail Kadare, translated by David Bellos.
Harvill, 169 pp., £8.99, June 1997, 9781860462573
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... tribes of the north, whose favourite Sunday pastime was shooting members of families with whom they were at blood feud. The cover of The File on H shows three young peasants in their Sunday best – black from head to foot. They look threatening all right, but any photography buff will recognise one of August Sanders’s most frequently reproduced images. These young men are Germans. They are not ...


John Bayley

8 December 1988
The Letters of Max​ Beerbohm 1892-1956 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 244 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7195 4537 4
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The Faber Book of Letters 
edited by Felix Pryor.
Faber, 319 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 571 15269 4
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... The desire to put people right about other people is incorrigible, indeed obsessional. In his review of David Cecil’s biography of Max Beerbohm Malcolm Muggeridge allowed it to be a graceful job of work, but said it missed the real point about Beerbohm and his lifestyle, which was that he concealed his Jewish origins and was a ...

At the Barbican

Saul Nelson: Jean-Michel Basquiat

4 January 2018
... a good year, as these things go, for diversity in London’s galleries. Soul of a Nation, Queer British Art, Rose Wylie: Quack Quack and now Basquiat: Boom for Real have brought the work of queer, black, elderly and female artists into mainstream exhibitions. Of course, Jean-Michel Basquiat is a star – it happened more or less instantly after his move from street graffiti to painting in 1981 – ...

Uncle Max

Patricia Craig

20 December 1984
The man who was M: The Life of Maxwell Knight 
by Anthony Masters.
Blackwell, 205 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 631 13392 5
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Unreliable Witness: Espionage Myths of the Second World War 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 166 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 297 78481 1
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The Great Betrayal: The Untold Story of Kim Philby’s Biggest Coup 
by Nicholas Bethell.
Hodder, 214 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 340 35701 0
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... luminaries was Anna Wolkoff, daughter of the restaurant’s expatriate proprietors. She and her co-members were pledged to obstruct the war effort. Among other things, they used to go about in the black-out attaching ‘sticky back’ notices to lamp-posts, telephone kiosks and so on. The notices informed passers-by that the war was a Jews’ war. Parties of illicit bill-stickers would emerge in ...

I Remember

W.G. Sebald

6 October 2011
... money & all the driver said smoking a Golden Holborn in the upper bunk before going to sleep. I can still hear him softly snoring through the night, see him at dawn climb down the ladder: big gut black underpants, put on his sweat- shirt, baseball hat, get into jeans & trainers, zip up his plastic holdall, rub his stubbled face with both his hands ready for the journey. I’ll have a wash in Russia ...

A Different Sort of Tory

Ronald Stevens: Max​ Hastings

12 December 2002
Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers 
by Max​ Hastings.
Macmillan, 398 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 333 90837 6
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... Something about the British press attracts Canadians. In the 1920s Max Aitken bought the Daily and Sunday Express, turned them into successful popular papers and became Lord Beaverbrook in the process. In the 1950s Roy Thomson bought Kemsley Newspapers, added the Times ...

At the Shops

Alice Spawls

21 September 2016
... bloody daggers (his Titania and Bottom would have made a wonderful tableau vivant for a window to0). Gareth Pugh’s Sycorax is the nearest to spectacle, dressed in a stiff funnel-necked ball-gown of black silk, embellished with heavy metal pendants. The shops compete, naturally, but advantages are bestowed on those with better faces (Max Mara profits unfairly from its double-storied glass and iron fa ...

Prosecco Notwithstanding

Tobias Gregory: 21st-Century Noir

3 July 2008
The Lemur 
by Benjamin Black.
Picador US, 144 pp., $13, June 2008, 978 0 312 42808 2
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... he thinks he can write a thriller that is also a work of art. John Banville, to his credit, understands that crime fiction is only crime fiction. The Lemur, his third book under the pen name Benjamin Black, is a slim, efficient novel, elegantly done as such things go, in which literary pretensions are largely resisted and the proper conventions observed. There is the murder. There is the Beretta. There ...

Lobsters do not have eyelashes!

Joanna Biggs: Nell Freudenberger

8 February 2007
The Dissident 
by Nell Freudenberger.
Picador, 427 pp., £14.99, March 2007, 978 0 330 49343 7
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... generous’) and hopes that the arrival of Yuan Zhao will have ‘a salutary effect’ on her ‘scattered family’. The Travers family is scattered in a stereotypically Californian way. The son, Max, is doing community service after the police found a gun in the glove compartment of the car he was driving. Max had told the police that he wanted to kill himself. The daughter, Olivia, has come ...


Stuart Hampshire

16 February 1984
Alan Turing: The Enigma 
by Andrew Hodges.
Burnett, 587 pp., £18, October 1983, 0 09 152130 0
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... 22, he was elected to a research fellowship at King’s, also an unusual recognition of his potentialities. His early achievements in logic and mathematics became known to the British mathematician Max Newman, and to the great John von Neumann in Princeton. He already speculated simultaneously on the foundations of mathematics, in Hilbert’s and Gödel’s sense, and on the conceivable capacities ...

The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones

11 December 1997
Hand To Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 436 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 571 17149 4
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... of Glass, the first volume in the New York Trilogy, the writer’s identity is always a plaything: Quinn, the writer, uses the pseudonym William Wilson, who himself writes about the improbably named Max Work, and is mistaken for Paul Auster, ‘of the Auster Detective Agency’. (The ‘Auster’ character always gets the smartest lines in the story, being allowed, for example, to expand on his pet ...

Goings-On at Eagle Lake

Christopher Tayler: Barry Hannah

29 November 2001
Yonder Stands Your Orphan 
by Barry Hannah.
Atlantic, 336 pp., £9.99, September 2001, 1 903809 16 9
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... in whom or at what time it manifested itself. This Peden is a minor character, no more or less eccentric than the other Eagle Lake inhabitants who populate Barry Hannah’s new novel. They include Max Raymond, a melancholy saxophonist looking for a vision of God; Byron Egan, a preacher and ex-biker, tattooed on the cheek with a Maltese cross and given to injecting himself with holy water at the ...

God wielded the buzzer

Christian Lorentzen: The Sorrows of DFW

11 October 2012
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 
by D.T. Max.
Granta, 352 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 84708 494 1
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... but Wallace used it twice in his fiction and once in an essay, in reverse; Stead seems to have been misremembering or paraphrasing a line of Virginia Woolf’s about Henry James) grew out of D.T. Max’s post-mortem profile of Wallace for the New Yorker, and is very much the version of his life as seen from Times Square. ‘Every story has a beginning and this is David Wallace’s’ is Max’s ...

Short Cuts

Sadiah Qureshi: Black​ History

22 November 2018
... On 22 October,​ Olivette Otele – a scholar of British and French colonialism who teaches at Bath Spa University – became the first black woman to be appointed to a chair in history at a UK university, and only the second black academic (the first was Hakim Adi, who teaches the history of Africa and the African diaspora at the ...

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