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Show us the night

Michael Gorra: Michael Dibdin, 26 November 1998

A Long Finish 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 249 pp., £16.99, September 1998, 0 571 19341 2
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... A Long Finish, to the wine and truffle country of the Piemonte, the sue tragicomic adventures of Michael Dibdin’s Venetian-born ‘supercop’ Aurelio Zen have offered many of the pleasures of tourism. Dibdin, however, skips over Italy’s ancient monuments to concentrate on its kidnappings and financial scams, its wiretapping and wirepulling, charting the ...

Living in the Aftermath

Michael Gorra, 19 June 1997

The God of Small Things 
by Arundhati Roy.
Flamingo, 340 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 225586 3
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... Here, with the cloud of a six-figure advance trailing behind her, comes Arundhati Roy: May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jack-fruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun ...

Hopeless Warriors

Michael Gorra: Sherman Alexie’s novels, 5 March 1998

The Lone Ranger and Tonto in Fistfight Heaven 
by Sherman Alexie.
Vintage, 223 pp., £6.99, September 1997, 9780749386696
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Reservation Blues 
by Sherman Alexie.
Minerva, 306 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 0 7493 9513 3
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Indian Killer 
by Sherman Alexie.
Secker, 420 pp., £9.99, September 1997, 0 436 20433 9
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... In ‘Indian Killer’, Sherman Alexie’s second novel, two members of the Anthropology Department at the University of Washington in Seattle exchange banalities in a parking lot: ‘Dr Mather!’ said the white man as he approached. ‘Dr Mather, it’s me. It’s Dr Faulkner.’ ‘Good evening, Dr Faulkner. How are you?’ ‘Fine, fine. How was your class?’ ‘Well, I’m having trouble with a student ...

Perfuming the Money Issue

James Wood: ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, 11 October 2012

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece 
by Michael Gorra.
Norton, 385 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 87140 408 4
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... When I think ideally of ‘the novel’, this is the one I recur to. One of the many pleasures of Michael Gorra’s book is that he too has loved this novel since he studied it in college, and wants to share his passion for it. He has also taught it for many years, at Smith College, and he has written the kind of patient, sensitive, acute study that ...

Something Unsafe about Books

Seth Colter Walls: William Gass, 9 May 2013

Middle C 
by William Gass.
Knopf, 416 pp., £19, March 2013, 978 0 307 70163 3
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... holes. So far, the novel’s most thoughtful reviewers – Cynthia Ozick in the New York Times and Michael Gorra in the New York Review of Books – have taken care to talk about both the story-strands and the anxieties about story in Middle C. But they have shied away from trying to answer their own big questions about the novel. ...

In what sense did she love him?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Constance Fenimore Woolson, 8 May 2014

The Complete Letters of Constance Fenimore Woolson 
edited by Sharon Dean.
Florida, 609 pp., £71.95, July 2012, 978 0 8130 3989 3
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... pictures, statues, vineyards, the Italian sky, dark-eyed peasants, opera-music, Raphael and old Michael, ‘Childe Harold’, the ‘Marble Faun’, ‘Romola’, and ever so many more ingredients, – the whole having I think taken me pretty well off my feet! Perhaps I ought to add Henry James. He has been perfectly charming to me for the last three ...

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