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Going Straight

Neal Ascherson, 17 March 1983

After Long Silence 
by Michael Straight.
Collins, 351 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 00 217001 9
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A Matter of Trust: MI5 1945-72 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £8.95, December 1982, 0 297 78253 3
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... malevolent, piteous or merely inaccurate, ought to be wound up after the publication of Michael Straight’s contribution. Very possibly, Anthony Blunt will one day write such a book himself. But the names have almost all been named, the questions of motive worn smooth, the titles and pensions (some of them) stripped like epaulettes, the spell ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal, 31 July 2014

... that well, and I don’t think Wilson much liked him.’ He said he’d read Wilson’s letters straight through, liked them very much, but still didn’t know why Wilson had been fired by the New Republic. Michael Straight was his sister’s husband – can that be right? the chains of relation are sometimes ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... What does seem clear is that by 1950 he had narrowed his life and become, in the words of Michael Hirst – one of his appointments to the staff of the Courtauld Institute – ‘a driven man and increasingly closed in’, relentlessly working on his scholarly books but rarely listening to music or reading outside his field of study, with little ...

Michael Hofmann reads his father’s book

Michael Hofmann, 25 June 1987

Our Conquest 
by Gert Hofmann, translated by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 281 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 85635 687 5
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... or lines of thought that are mysterious or wilful or decorative, some that are so challengingly straight and direct that the reader has to treat them as allegorical. In the slaughterhouse episode, there is a little excursus in which is described, first how the music-school was relocated in the slaughterhouse, and then how the butcher turns up, proclaims his ...

Digital Recordings

Michael Hofmann, 20 June 1985

... with the frontal bone of intellect ... The central heating clicks on, and the warm air shoots straight up into the triangular apex of the studio, against twenty feet of northlight, now darkness and fog. I’ve no reason to believe there’s anything below me – the presumed foundations, whichever of God’s creatures left their prints in the snow and ...

Room to Rhyme

Michael Longley, 24 September 2015

... up at the end. II In the middle of a field in Mourne country Standing side by side, looking straight ahead We peed against a fragment of stone wall, St Patrick’s windbreak, the rain’s urinal. III On our pilgrimages around the North In your muddy Volkswagen, we chanted Great War songs: Hush! Here comes a whizz-bang! We’re here because we’re ...

Banality and Anxiety

Michael Mason, 19 March 1981

Thirty Seconds 
by Michael Arlen.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 211 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 27576 9
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The Crystal Bucket 
by Clive James.
Cape, 238 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 224 01890 6
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The Message of Television 
by Roger Silverstone.
Heinemann, 248 pp., £14.50, March 1981, 0 435 82825 8
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... of Norman Mailer and other modern American writers. All these books are from literary stables. Michael Arlen’s first appeared in the New Yorker, and comes to the British reader via two very respected publishing houses (Fabers, incidentally, are apparently issuing the American edition with its original binding and title-page, without their own imprint: a ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 2 July 1981

... be said to be lying ... I began without a tape-recorder, like a secretary taking confession – straight to the boulevard papers. Later, I was often admitted to their life-style, but it was more than I could cope with. Migraine, the affliction of the sensitive, made me retire to my hotel bedroom ... While at other times, it was my exclusion that was ...

Lucky Kim

Christopher Hitchens, 23 February 1995

The Philby Files. The Secret Life of the Master Spy: KGB Archives Revealed 
by Genrikh Borovik, edited by Phillip Knightley.
Little, Brown, 382 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 316 91015 5
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The Fifth Man 
by Roland Perry.
Sidgwick, 486 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 283 06216 9
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Treason in the Blood: H. St John Philby, Kim Philby and the Spy Case of the Century 
by Anthony Cave Brown.
Hale, 640 pp., £25, January 1995, 9780709055822
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My Five Cambridge Friends 
by Yuri Modin.
Headline, 328 pp., £17.99, October 1994, 0 7472 1280 5
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Looking for Mr Nobody: The Secret Life of Goronwy Rees 
by Jenny Rees.
Weidenfeld, 291 pp., £18.99, October 1994, 0 297 81430 3
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... history. On the only occasion that I knowingly met a Cambridge spy, I broached the same question. Michael Straight, a distinguished East Coast American liberal and publisher (he had run the New Republic during the queasy years of McCarthy, and if exposed during that period could have helped discredit a cause larger than himself in much the same way as ...

Two Poems

Michael Symmons Roberts, 18 May 2017

... of local gods, but they are patient in their sad-masks. Such acquiescence, you knew they saw you straight, and even so would give you everything. Our only rule: we never touched them. Save one time I saw a blue heart-shaped soap clutched in a woman’s hand and something in her would not give it up to me for all the world. I have it somewhere. Let me find ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... far more to do with the rise in VAT on fuel, Norman Lamont’s Exchange Rate Mechanism fiasco, and Michael Heseltine’s pit closures than with any decision of a Labour Party Special Conference. The evidence suggests that large numbers of people who voted Tory in 1992 were persuaded very soon that they had made a hideous mistake. These people would have voted ...

Desolation Studies

Edward Luttwak, 12 September 1991

The Lessons of History 
by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 217 pp., £17.50, March 1991, 0 19 821581 9
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... I still recall my acute disappointment with Michael Howard’s The Franco-Prussian War, published some thirty years ago. The subject was exciting – what with the desperate German infantry assaults at Gravelotte and the dramatic unveiling of the ultra-secret mitrailleuse – and the book was thick enough to promise much good fun to any schoolboy eager to read of battles with a threepenny bag of crisps at his side ...

Coats of Every Cut

Michael Mason, 9 June 1994

Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... of linguistic disruption. Gash calls this passage from Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour a piece of ‘straight visual reporting’: Away they rumble up the Edgware Road; the gradual emergence from the brick and mortar of London being marked as well by the telling out of passengers as by the increasing distances between the houses. First, it is all huddle with ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, 27 January 2022

... as the witches in Macbeth always do, of ‘fog and filthy air’, and we see a filthy screen straight away, with two birds faintly discernible in the fog, hovering as if in an air show. This fog is everywhere in the film: characters appear and disappear in it, it fills groves of trees, and when Macduff’s son is killed he is thrown into the smoke of a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, 26 May 2022

... daughter (Joy, played by Stephanie Hsu), who doesn’t understand the social advantages of being straight; and an evil tax officer (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is about to wreck Evelyn’s financial life. There is a perfect visual anticipation of all this in the opening shot of the Wangs’ apartment. We see a table piled with unsorted bills, clothes and ...

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