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Tied to the Mast

Adam Mars-Jones: Alan Hollinghurst, 19 October 2017

The Sparsholt Affair 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 454 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 1 4472 0821 1
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... connoisseurship and defiant frankness. This qualm was both expressed and lightly lampooned by Nicholson Baker, writing in U&I: ‘Hey, I’m reading Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming-Pool Library, and you know, once you get used to the initially kind of disgusting level of homosexual sex, which quickly becomes really interesting as a kind of ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reader 
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... put learned culture, they’ve also carved out a general readership for themselves – witness Nicholson Baker on card catalogues – and joined forces with groups slighted by literary theorists: librarians, book dealers, local historians. Even the form of The Book History Reader privileges empirical case studies over theoretical ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’, 8 March 2018

Essayism 
by Brian Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... the process in the finished volume is a matter of rhetoric. It was a different thing when Nicholson Baker, writing about his literary relationship with John Updike in U & I, decided not to reread Updike’s work, or to read for the first time the books he hadn’t finished (or hadn’t started). That was a piquant part of the book’s ...

God’s Own

Angus Calder, 12 March 1992

Empire and English Character 
by Kathryn Tidrick.
Tauris, 338 pp., £24.95, August 1990, 1 85043 191 4
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Into Africa: The story of the East African Safari 
by Kenneth Cameron.
Constable, 229 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 09 469770 1
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Burton: Snow upon the Desert 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 428 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 0 7195 4818 7
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From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton’s Travels in the Americas, 1860-69 
by Frank McLynn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 258 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 7126 3789 3
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The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles 
by Nigel Barley.
Viking, 276 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 670 83642 7
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... then comes Herbert Chitepo, named after an African leader martyred in the struggle. To the south, Baker and Speke intrude between Samora Machel and Mugabe. Since those two famous explorers never came anywhere near the territory formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, their continued invocation in the centre of decolonised Harare is remarkable testimony to the ...

Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks

Adam Smyth: Paper, 15 June 2017

Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... like printed books. Even computer people enjoy printed books.’) There is none of the urgency of Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (2001), which lambasts librarians (two words not often found together) for destroying printed texts in order to preserve them. Fears about space and the fragility of books, particularly ...

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