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Harnessed to a Shark

Alison Light: Who was Virginia Woolf afraid of?

21 March 2002
Three Guineas 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Naomi Black.
Blackwell, 253 pp., £60, October 2001, 0 631 17724 8
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... In the 1960s we used to sing a music-hall song in the pub whose rousing refrain began, ‘Two lovely black eyes – Oh, what a surprise!’ and went on: ‘Only for tellin’ a man he was wrong – two lovely black eyes!’ It took me a while to realise that the singer was a woman who’d been beaten up ...

Man-Eating Philosophers

Will Self: David Cronenberg

17 June 2015
Consumed 
by David Cronenberg.
Fourth Estate, 288 pp., £18.99, October 2014, 978 0 00 729915 7
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... listener can’t help assessing the extent to which their style and methodology has been directly transposed. Cronenberg seems to fend this off at the outset; the opening lines of Consumed read: ‘Naomi was in the screen. Or, more exactly, she was in the apartment in the QuickTime window in the screen, the small, shabby, scholarly apartment of Célestine and Aristide Arosteguy.’ In the final ...

Hit by Donald Duck

Oliver Hill-Andrews: The Red Scientist

24 May 2018
Popularising Science: The Life and Work of J.B.S. Haldane 
by Krishna Dronamraju.
Oxford, 367 pp., £26.99, February 2017, 978 0 19 933392 9
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... in biology at an early age by his father, John Scott Haldane, a physiologist at New College, Oxford. There was a laboratory on the ground floor of the house where J.B.S. and his younger sister, Naomi (later, as Naomi Mitchison, a prolific writer and political campaigner), grew up. Haldane wrote later that from an early age he had associated scientific experiments with play. Soon, he even joined ...

At City Hall

Susan McKay: Belfast Protests

7 February 2013
... the working people.’ He himself was unemployed, and so was his wife. A young woman with a child in a buggy tucked a Union flag around the child’s knees. I asked a young man why he was wearing a black balaclava. ‘’Cos it’s cold,’ he said. Another man said they had to hide their faces because Republicans were taking photographs of the loyalists and passing them on to the police. ‘People ...

Dorian’s Castle

Naomi​ Lewis

6 August 1992
... a long analytic plot account. Dr Mungo Park, a 59-year-old priest, is walking in the Cotswolds when he thinks that he has died. He finds himself the captive of a strange primitive society, ruled by black Catholic priests. Below ground is a race of ‘rodent-like white men’ who present ‘an intolerable paradox; mechanical genius ... with moral degeneration the most complete’. Is he himself ...

Faithful in the Dusk

Adam Mars-Jones: Tessa Hadley

15 August 2019
Late in the Day 
by Tessa Hadley.
Cape, 281 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 78733 111 2
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... she arranged them side by side. He had liked to prowl around at home in his slippers, heavy-footed and at ease, unbuttoned, domesticated, leaving a trail behind him of half-drunk cups of strong black coffee. All these objects ought to compose him– as, in a novel, of course, they can and do. Those Zachary-impregnated slippers have an afterlife, when Lydia finds them tucked tactfully away in the ...

Making It

Melissa Benn: New Feminism?

5 February 1998
Different for Girls: How Culture Creates Women 
by Joan Smith.
Chatto, 176 pp., £10.99, September 1997, 9780701165123
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The New Feminism 
by Natasha Walter.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.50, January 1998, 0 316 88234 8
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A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Penguin, 752 pp., £20, June 1997, 0 670 87420 5
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... disapproving friends and allies of Saffy, the teenage daughter in Absolutely Fabulous, looking down her nose at her mother’s immaturity. One can see many of these elements in the recent work of Naomi Wolf, probably the most famous of the new feminists. Now married to a Clinton speech-writer and very much in caring-Democrat mould, Wolf began her career on prime-time TV. She has always been ...
20 December 1990
From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi​ Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... the Middle East, where no one will deny the importance of religions. In Alarms and Excursions the information is mediated by a bright, bustling author, determined to make sense of it all. At least, Naomi Shepherd starts out that way, though her thirty years in Israel have led her to a grave, almost pessimistic outlook. London-bred, Oxford-educated, she became the Israel correspondent for the New ...

A Turn for the Woowoo

Theo Tait: David Mitchell

4 December 2014
The Bone Clocks 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 595 pp., £20, September 2014, 978 0 340 92160 9
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... David Mitchell​ is a career-long genre-bender. Only with his fourth book, Black Swan Green (2006), did he raid his own store of experience to write a first-novelish novel, a charming if low-key coming-of-age story, set in Worcestershire in 1982, full of references to Findus ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Eastern Promises’

15 November 2007
Eastern Promises 
directed by David Cronenberg.
October 2007
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... She has also been raped by Kirill and Semyon. However, her baby survives and there are clues to her past: a notebook and a business card for a Russian restaurant in Smithfield: Semyon’s place. Naomi Watts is Anna, the midwife who wants to find the child’s family. Anna can’t read Russian and so needs to have the notebook translated. Her heavy-drinking Russian uncle, played by the Polish film ...

Free-Marketeering

Stephen Holmes: Naomi​ Klein

8 May 2008
The Shock Doctrine 
by Naomi​ Klein.
Penguin, 558 pp., £8.99, June 2008, 978 0 14 102453 0
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... suddenly seemed a much more sinister activity than before. Busting up branches of Starbucks and other Seattle-style antics became anathema in an atmosphere of injured and vindictive patriotism. But Naomi Klein, the combative theorist and publicist of anti-globalisation, was not about to accept such guilt by association. Her reply, The Shock Doctrine, deals with the corporate acquisitiveness that she ...

Let Them Drown

Naomi​ Klein

1 June 2016
... required another layer of othering too: this time for the urban neighbourhoods next door to the power plants and refineries. In North America, these are overwhelmingly communities of colour, black and Latino, forced to carry the toxic burden of our collective addiction to fossil fuels, with markedly higher rates of respiratory illnesses and cancers. It was in fights against this kind of ...

Visitors

Naomi​ May

5 July 1984
... or on the balcony that looked down into the garden, because the sight of them doing reckless things brought on her distress. The way to climb the wall was up an elder tree that grew beside it, whose black berries they pretended they enjoyed eating, or by getting a foothold in the ivy. The ivy was old and tough, but sometimes it gave way. Daddy had wanted to cut down the tree, but Mother did not like ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation

7 September 2016
... Lunch, Gysin’s ‘discovery’ of cut-up, after slicing through a wad of newspaper as he was making a passe-partout, and the beginnings of Kaddish, Ginsberg’s extraordinary poem to his mother, Naomi. Michaud doesn’t try to present Paris as the Beat city par excellence, but Ginsberg wrote several good poems besides the first part of Kaddish while he was lounging ‘on a bed in Paris/sunglow ...

I’m hip. I live in New York

Theo Tait: Leonard Michaels

3 March 2016
Sylvia 
by Leonard Michaels.
Daunt Books, 131 pp., £9.99, June 2015, 978 1 907970 55 9
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... adrift, ‘humoured by the world’. He returns to his parents’ flat, where he broods, reads the New York Times, smokes and eats their food. A week later, on a hot day, he visits his friend Naomi Kane in an old tenement on MacDougal Street, which is thronged with ‘slow, turgid crowds of sightseers’ soaking up the new ‘apocalyptic atmosphere’ of Greenwich Village. In a squalid ...

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