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John Bayley, 29 October 1987

How I Grew 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 297 79170 2
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Myself and Michael Innes 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 575 04104 8
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... have said, Gertrude c’est moi): but at least it was alive, as Stewart is alive in Myself and Michael Innes. Exposing herself to the latest critical viruses, for she has always been sedulous in keeping up, Mary perhaps decided when composing hers that she did not exist as an individual after all? At least both books share the most engaging ...

Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... decision worth pondering. Shadbold’s roulette and James’s chapter of accidents become poker in Gordon Williams’s lively novel Pomeroy. Up there in Dawson City, One-Eye Riley the mad gambler was asked: ‘Is it true you regard poker as a matter of life or death?’ He replied: ‘Hell, no, cards is serious.’ John Stockley Pomeroy is a West Point ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington, 30 November 2006

State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... The American Military Adventure in Iraq (the most bearable of these excruciating war volumes), Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor’s Cobra II, George Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate, Peter Galbraith’s The End of Iraq, and now Woodward: these books and many others present their versions of what went wrong, aim for a culprit, and hope that a firing ...

New Ground for the Book Trade

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

... often with non-publishing or foreign management at the highest level. Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Frederick Warne and Longman – all once imprints with independent identities – now congregate within the Pearson group (best known for its ownership of the Financial Times). Random House UK (whose American parent was long since swallowed up by ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... left behind were that it should be used in any way possible – short of falling into the hands of Michael Winner – ‘to make money for my boys’: Mark Pearce, her second husband, and Alexander, the couple’s son, born in 1983. As Edmund Gordon says towards the beginning of his biography, Carter was never so widely ...

Britain takes the biscuit

Gordon Brown and Geoff Mulgan, 25 October 1990

The Competitive Advantage of Nations 
by Michael Porter.
Macmillan, 855 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 333 51804 7
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... the average Yugoslav and why the average Scot earns less than the average English man or woman. Michael Porter’s The Competitive Advantage of Nations is audacious (or foolhardy) enough to offer an answer. Its aim is nothing less than a systematic explanation of the wealth of nations, with 52 pages of policy recommendations added on for good ...

Hell, he’ll be frozen stiff!

Michael Hofmann: Michel the Giant, 7 April 2022

Michel the Giant: An African in Greenland 
by Tété-Michel Kpomassie, translated by James Kirkup.
Penguin, 328 pp., £9.99, February, 978 0 241 55453 1
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... he writes of a mythical bush creature.) And it has something, too, of Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, only that here the Blacks don’t live on the Pole: they have to take a ship to get there. ‘I had started on a voyage of discovery, only to find that it was I who was being discovered,’ Kpomassie realises once he finally ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... a rampant adventure-tale of a male rogue, or rogue male, on the loose between two marriages. Mary Gordon’s Men and Angels shows a happily-married heroine struggling tenaciously, in her husband’s absence, to preserve her own integrity by defending her home and children against an intruder. Life goes on is a sequel to A Start in Life (1970 – not to be ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Michael Crichton’s Revenge, 4 January 2007

... to an English-language bookshop – there’s even one at the railway station – to buy a copy of Michael Crichton’s new novel, Next (HarperCollins, £17.99). But why go to the trouble of spending the whole of Wednesday morning buying a book, when I could just download it now, on Tuesday evening? Diesel eBooks were offering Next in three formats: I plumped ...

What Blair Threw Away

Ross McKibbin: Feckless, Irresponsible and Back in Power, 19 May 2005

... and assume that Labour will sooner or later come a cropper. The Australian strategies adopted by Michael Howard and his advisers at this election were, on the other hand, very risky and, in the end, mistaken, exaggerating as they did the significance of immigration and crime within British politics. Many people ‘care’ about immigration and crime, but ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... a hair’s breadth of becoming deputy leader of the Party. Opinions differ, but a Party led by Michael Foot and Benn would probably have seen a mass defection of MPs to the SDP. As it was, Benn’s failure paved the way for Neil Kinnock’s purge of the Militant Left, as well as the crucial policy switch from renationalisation of key industries to ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians and the Press, 26 January 2006

... of any Lib Dems, including Kennedy’s enemies and rivals, to cause havoc by speaking up. And then Michael Howard announced his intention to stand down as Conservative leader the day after the election, when there were still a few seats not declared. So any Lib Dems eager to stab Kennedy in the back would have to wait until after the Tories sorted themselves ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown, 2 November 2006

... During Liars’ Week at the Labour Party Conference last month – when Gordon pretended that he still had a lot of time for Tony, on hearing which Cherie said that’s a lie, but being overheard herself had to deny she’d said any such thing, though the next day Tony more or less admitted that her denial wasn’t to be trusted either, before going on to pretend that he still admired Gordon too, and then pledging himself to the cause of peace in the Middle East – it was no surprise that the boldest liar of all came out on top ...

Point of Principle

Michael Irwin, 2 April 1981

The Country 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 159 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 575 02938 2
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The Radiant Future 
by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Gordon Clough.
Bodley Head, 287 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 370 30219 2
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Farewell to Europe 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 0 297 77870 6
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... The Country, which is concerned with old age, death and family bereavement, is adroitly restricted to an account of four visits. The first two, at intervals of a year, are paid by Daniel Francoeur, an American writer long resident in London, to his aging parents in Rhode Island. He finds them unhappy, constrained by repressed hostility and old disappointments ...

Reproaches from the Past

Peter Clarke: Gordon Brown, 1 April 2004

The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown 
by William Keegan.
Wiley, 356 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 470 84697 6
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... Standing in such a tradition, the title chosen by William Keegan, The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown, is entitled to its whimsical flourish, and he duly begins with a monitory epigraph from Titian’s Allegory of Prudence: ‘The Present does well to profit from the Past, lest Future conduct go astray.’ A respected financial journalist with ...

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