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At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: ‘The Shop around the Corner’

6 January 2011
The Shop around the Corner 
directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
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... the terrifying dictator with the heart if not of gold then of malleable tin – haven’t we seen him before, and why are we so convinced of his secret benevolence? We have. And we know him as Frank Morgan, alias the Wizard of Oz. And James Stewart, looking much younger than the wry, unageing James Stewart of legend and memory (he was 32 when he made this movie) – why doesn’t he seem more ...
13 October 1988
A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael​ Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... for the periods politicians spend in opposition. Roy Jenkins’s Asquith, Anthony Crosland’s reflections on socialism, Richard Crossman’s Bagehot, would hardly have come out of Whitehall, and Michael Manley would not have found time to write a history of West Indian cricket which encompasses the social, economic and regional problems of the Caribbean if he had been engaged in trying to resolve ...

Frank​ Auerbach’s London

T.J. Clark: Frank​ Auerbach

9 September 2015
... That marvellous line from Thomas Hardy’s ‘At the Railway Station’: ‘And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang/With grimful glee …’ Frank Auerbach to William Feaver And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang With grimful glee: ‘This life so free Is the thing for me!’ And the constable smiled, and said no word. Thomas Hardy, ‘At ...

Family Values

Michael​ Wood

17 October 1996
The Last Don 
by Mario Puzo.
Heinemann, 482 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 0 434 60498 4
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... move, although less satirical and more romantic in mood, structures most gangster movies, which allegorise the world of business whether they want to or not, and the connection is eerily alive in Frank Sinatra’s version of ‘Mack the Knife’, where he sings of making an offer you can’t refuse. There is almost too much to unravel here. The song comes from (the English translation of) Brecht ...

Charging Downhill

Frank​ Kermode: Michael​ Holroyd

28 October 1999
Basil Street Blues: A Family Story 
by Michael​ Holroyd.
Little, Brown, 306 pp., £17.50, September 1999, 0 316 64815 9
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... When he came to write his autobiography, the biographer Michael Holroyd decided to restrict himself to what he calls ‘a good walk-on part’, assigning the leading roles to his family. Avowedly happier with the lives of others than with his own, he remains as ...
1 June 2000
Approximately Nowhere 
by Michael​ Hofmann.
Faber, 77 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 571 19524 5
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... Michael Hofmann’s poetry is a lament for a lost world. Some years ago, in an article on Frank O’Hara, he talked about New York no longer being the thrilling place it had been in the days when O’Hara and the gang could go downtown to the Blue Note and hear John Coltrane or uptown to hear ...

No nation I’ve ever heard of

Garth Greenwell: Matthew Griffin’s ‘Hide’

19 January 2017
Hide 
by Matthew Griffin.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4088 6708 2
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... At the beginning​ of Matthew Griffin’s novel, Wendell, his eighty-something narrator, finds his partner collapsed in their garden, face up in the North Carolina sun. Frank will recover from the immediate effects of his stroke, but the book charts his decline into physical debility and dementia, as well as Wendell’s increasingly desperate efforts to care for him. Care ...

Just like Mother

Theo Tait: Richard Yates

6 February 2003
Collected Stories 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 474 pp., £17.99, January 2002, 0 413 77125 3
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 346 pp., £6.99, February 2001, 0 413 75710 2
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The Easter Parade 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 226 pp., £10, January 2003, 0 413 77202 0
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... Recently, there has been a considerable resurgence of interest in his writing, previously limited to a small but dedicated following among writers such as Richard Ford, Stewart O’Nan and Michael Chabon. This came ten years too late for Yates, who died of emphysema and complications following minor surgery in 1992. His fiction is closely modelled on his own experiences and, perhaps ...

Glaswegians

Andrew O’Hagan

11 May 1995
... the thing loosened and fell into the middle of the room with me underneath it. I knew the face framed by that rickety wood. I’d seen it before, in that frame, and I knew who it was: my grandfather Michael. I knew that’s who it was though I’d never met him. The grandfather was covered in dust and damp patches dried in. But that was him: he had the darkest eyes I’d ever seen. His hair was slick ...

Upstaging

Paul Driver

19 August 1993
Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... and who lives in America, as Auden did, has written a libretto for a composer of whom I confess I haven’heard. He is Daron Aric Hagen, and Shining Brow is an opera about the early life of Frank Lloyd Wright, commissioned by Madison Opera, Wisconsin, Wright’s home state. The work was premièred there in April, but not having heard it, I cannot speak for the opera’s music. That, though ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank​ Thompson

7 March 2013
A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank​ Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... Preliminary sketches for the great canvas of the Cold War were already under way in the Balkans in the summer of 1944 when Frank Thompson was executed. Bulgaria was a member of the Axis and Frank, older brother of the historian E.P. Thompson, was on a mission in the country for Special Operations Executive: the idea was that anti-Nazi partisans should be encouraged and supported in their ...
17 December 2009
... Frank Kermode is too multifarious a writer to have anything as dogged as a theme for his critical work; too sane and stealthy to boast of anything as limiting as an obsession. But there are persistences ...
17 August 1989
The Little Platoon: Diplomacy and the Falklands Dispute 
by Michael​ Charlton.
Blackwell, 230 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 631 16564 9
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... When the Falklands War broke out, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office was Sir Michael Palliser. He was not disposed to blame his department for the catastrophe. Unlike the Prime Minister, for whom the war was proof of Foreign Office incompetence if not perfidy, Sir Michael pleaded ...

A Sort of Nobody

Michael​ Wood

9 May 1996
Not Entitled: A Memoir 
by Frank​ Kermode.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £18, May 1996, 0 00 255519 0
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... Criticism for Frank Kermode is the articulation of assumptions, a sort of phenomenology of interpretative need. Its job, as he says in The Sense of an Ending (1967), is ‘making sense of the ways we try to make sense ...

Short Cuts

James Francken: The Booker Prize shortlist

2 November 2000
... The Hiding Place – the 7-1 outsider and the only first novel on the list – is narrated by Dolores Gauci, a young girl whose Maltese father gambled away his Cardiff café on the day she was born. Frank Gauci is a weak, compulsive man who ignores the difficulties of his family and hides behind the pages of the Sporting Life. Azzopardi has a keen sense of the shame of poverty and the humiliation of ...

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