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Seedy Equations

Adam Mars-Jones: Dealing with James Purdy, 18 May 2023

James Purdy: Life of a Contrarian Writer 
by Michael Snyder.
Oxford, 444 pp., £27, January, 978 0 19 760972 9
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... equivalent ‘little bugger’, not as cowardly a substitution as the author of this biography, Michael Snyder, seems to think. ‘Motherfucker’ was taboo, but also unfamiliar in a British context. ‘Bugger’ was a robust stand-in.Snyder starts his book with Sitwell’s epiphany but acknowledges the exaggeration ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘300’, 26 April 2007

directed by Zack Snyder.
December 2006
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... vast numbers. Three to one against are ‘good odds for any Greek’, a character says in Zack Snyder’s blood-spattered box-office success 300 (and in Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name, on which the movie is faithfully, not to say slavishly based). Thus the Western world was saved, at least for a while, from what the film calls ‘mysticism ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder, 24 May 2012

... and memory. ‘Nature is not a place to visit,’ the man says, ‘it is home.’ He is Gary Snyder, poet, bioregionalist, teacher. Having bought out his early partners, Allen Ginsberg and Dick Baker, he is the sole proprietor of this estate, a hundred acres of manzanita thickets, with open stretches of ponderosa pine, black oak, cedar, madrone, Douglas ...

Heathrow to Canary Wharf

Nick Richardson: Crossrail, 11 October 2012

... start turning a profit. The money invested by City businesses will turn to profit more quickly. As Michael Snyder, the Corporation’s head of policy, noted, Crossrail will stop the City from losing the £1 million a day it currently loses as a result of transport delays: one hundred and fifty days and the banks will be laughing all the way ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Ginsberg read the first section of Howl; two younger poets, Michael McClure (early twenties) and Gary Snyder (mid-twenties), read on the same night. So did Lew Welch, who disappeared years later in the Sierra Nevada. Barry Miles, who has written the introductory essay in the catalogue ...


Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... George Harrison at the dawn of Swinging London. When I interviewed one of the Six Gallery poets, Michael McClure, in 2011, he recalled earlier episodes of Dionysian frenzy with Gerd Stern and a thrash of ‘belly dancers and bongo drums’. Nights that were much closer to Ranald MacDougall’s Hollywood travesty of Kerouac’s San Francisco novella The ...

I was warmer in prison

Vadim Nikitin: ‘A Terrible Country’, 11 October 2018

A Terrible Country 
by Keith Gessen.
Fitzcarraldo, 352 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 910695 76 0
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... three camps: the conservative right (Richard Pipes), neoliberal right (Anne Applebaum, Timothy Snyder) or the cravenly apolitical centre (Timothy Colton). They all treat Russia as a problem to be solved. What is the underlying reason, they ask, for Russia’s deviance from the ‘normal’ (read: American) mode of development? Their approaches differ only ...

Miss Lachrymose

Liz Brown: Doris Day’s Performances, 11 September 2008

Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door 
by David Kaufman.
Virgin, 628 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 905264 30 8
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... Paul, called her Doke. Childhood friends called her Dodo or Didi or Priscilla Preoccupied. Michael Curtiz called her Miss Lachrymose (she could weep on cue). Jack Carson called her Zelda. Fans called her Miss Huckleberry Finn. Film crews called her Nora Neat and Dorothy Detail. A staff assistant called her Janie O. Gene Kelly called her Brunhilda. Bob ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... and a voice. The first reading took place at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on 7 October 1955. Michael McClure who also read that night along with Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Philip Lamantia, describes the poem’s impact in Scratching the Beat Surface (1982): I hadn’t seen Allen in a few weeks and I had not heard ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... in secondary schools and then at Queen’s; his literary life with Seamus Deane, Derek Mahon, Michael and Edna Longley, Philip Hobsbaum, and the workshop that Hobsbaum convened, the Group; and the grisly metamorphoses of Northern Irish public life, from simmering inequality and half-suppressed resentment into the worst of the Troubles. Each of these ...

Always the Bridesmaid

Terry Castle: Sappho, 30 September 1999

Victorian Sappho 
by Yopie Prins.
Princeton, 278 pp., £40, May 1999, 0 691 05918 7
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... perhaps as punishment for nameless (homosexual?) debaucheries. Still others, such as Jane McIntosh Snyder, suggest that the Phaon myth may have arisen from an ancient exegetical slip; for given the obvious mythological and metaphoric implications of the story, it is likely that if Sappho ever did refer in her songs to leaping off the White Rocks of ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... athletes. Fracking is the latest wheeze, another US import. When I visited the poet Gary Snyder in Kitkitdizze, his retreat in the Sierra Nevada foothills, he alerted me to the land hunger of the frackers. ‘A lot of public land,’ he said, ‘has to be converted, in the most organised fashion, into hundreds and thousands of gas wells. It’s like ...

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