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La Nuit Américaine

Michael Hofmann, 22 May 1980

... and not yet twenty. A shimmering girl with polished nails and a soft creamy face, who washed her white blonde hair with pink strawberry shampoo. When she was little, her hair caught fire and her older sister poured water over her. After that it was short for a while. There is a photo of her with my sister, both in pyjamas with powdered faces long past ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘12 Years a Slave’, 6 February 2014

12 Years a Slave 
directed by Steve McQueen.
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... and plausibly interpreted for us. ‘The inanimate body of poor Robert was consigned to the white waters of the gulf … and I gazed out over the great waste of waters with a spirit that was indeed disconsolate.’ In the film we see the wake of the ship, the sack with the body floating in the gleaming water, but it doesn’t translate into an ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 17 November 1983

... on my mind. On the radio, the National Front put their case in five minutes. The fiction of an all-white Albion, deludedness and control, like my landlady’s white-haired old bitch, who confuses home with the world, pees just inside the door, and shits trivially in a bend in the corridor. Mr Thatcher made his pile by ...

Two Poems

Michael McClure, 24 May 2012

... Mephisto 5I AM A GOD WITH A HUGE FACE. Lionsand eagles pour out of my mouth. Big whitesquare teeth and a red-purple tongue. There aremagenta clouds around my head and thisis my throne room where Ichange opals into soulsin a spark of alchemy.    Only a fool is impartialto cool mist on the face on a brisk walk through the canyon. – Sometimes passedin semi-darkness by a bikerora car  delivering the papers ...


Sean Wilsey: Going Slow, 17 July 2008

... In the fall of 2002, in the company of a dog named Charlie Chaplin and an architect named Michael Meredith, I set out to drive a 1960 Chevy Apache 10 pick-up truck, at 45 mph, from far west Texas to New York City: 2364 miles through desert, suburbs, forests, lake-spattered plains, mountains, farmland, more suburbs and the Holland Tunnel ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 6 July 1989

... throat, singing. A thin trickle of demonstrators chant ‘Mexico!’ uphill. Whitewashed against white ants, the yew tree trunks look spindly and phosphorescent, like stalagmites in the cavern of their shade. The birds won’t sing. An old man clutches a fistful of drumsticks and shivers. A month after the election, the posters are still up, each x-ing out ...

Damaged Beasts

James Wood: Peter Carey’s ‘Theft’, 8 June 2006

Theft: A Love Story 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 269 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 571 23147 0
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... by the market, still a fake? What does intention matter if your audience doesn’t care about it? Michael ‘Butcher’ Boone, one of the two narrators of Theft, is a once famous Australian artist, newly divorced and down on his luck. His work is now very unfashionable, and he has retreated to a rustic house in New South Wales owned by his patron. Here, ...

In the Realm of the Senses

Michael Hofmann, 16 February 1984

... smoke and sights and consommations. The yellow Citröen sits up and fills its lungs, a black and white green-backed mongrel sees us off. The road skirts the airport like a stray runway. Incoming planes make as if to pick us off. Sometimes it divides: one half runs along the ground, the other makes a sudden hump – my fear of flyovers. A little further, I ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Behind the Candelabra’, 4 July 2013

Behind the Candelabra 
directed by Steven Soderbergh.
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... died in 1987. In the movie the performances keep pace with the glitter and the hokum for a while. Michael Douglas as Liberace acts up onstage and off, twinkles with a coy kindness that is all self-admiration but quite fetching even so; Damon is bewildered and wary and captivated in just the right proportions, and his shift from baffled gay guy into trinketed ...

The Butchers

Michael Longley, 9 November 1989

... their deliverer, who led them Along the clammy sheughs, then past the oceanic streams And the white rock, the sun’s gatepost in that dreamy region, Until they came to a bog-meadow full of bog-asphodels Where the residents are ghosts or images of the ...

Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 4 August 1983

... starring your chest. Your beard – the friend of the writer who doesn’t smoke – is shot with white ... A Christmas card arrives to ask why you don’t have any grandchildren. Fine Adjustments By now, it is almost my father’s arm, a man’s arm, that lifts the cigarettes to my mouth numbed by smoke and raw onions and chocolate milk. I need ...

H.H., 95

Michael Hofmann, 4 March 2021

... on sunshine, sunshine and Baileys.Baileys and discipline. Discipline and habit.Habit and white grapes. Chiefly sunshine.Her correct, quavery German.The enunciating, excruciating visitor.‘We go on living? Very well, we go on ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Milk’ , 1 January 2009

... mayor who supported him were shot and killed in 1978 by another, resentful supervisor called Dan White. White served five years for manslaughter and committed suicide soon after his release. The film opens over black and white footage of police rounding up and beating up gays in the ...
... dried-out sacking, cuirasses and boots suggesting feudal Tudors and Japanese samurais, saffron and white robes against glittering sand – open out the harmonics of the story and the national variety of the actors, while Brook makes her bamboo screens, bows and arrows and chariot-wheels into both literal story elements and symbolic emblems of the mastery of ...


Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... was sung to open the games. Only Americans – Dennis Mitchell after winning a 100-metres heat and Michael Johnson after taking the 200-metre gold – puffed out their chests and pulled their jerseys to display the national emblem. Only Americans accused an Irish swimmer of using drugs when she won the Olympic gold. Only an eliminated American boxer, Fernando ...

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