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Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’

23 October 2003
Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... a novelist more strongly than even such perceptive predecessors as Gary Kelly or Marilyn Butler, Pamela Perkins balks at the novel’s romance ending. Walter Scott, who distrusted Bage’s politics, grudgingly praised the depiction of Hermsprong while asking: ‘But did such a man ever exist?’ – which suggests he had forgotten Hermsprong’s ...
18 April 1996
Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... the one which most perfectly balanced the art of speaking out by not speaking out. Simonetta Perkins is a gem of almost miraculous accomplishment and maturity, despite its obvious debt to James and to Forster. Deplorable that it should so long have been out of print: indeed I don’t think it has been reprinted since the Thirties. It gave Hartley his ...

My word, Miss Perkins

Jenny Diski: In the Typing Pool

4 August 2005
Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture 
edited by Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell.
Ashgate, 168 pp., £40, January 2005, 0 7546 3804 9
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... the bibliographer Roger Stoddard has noted, ‘authors do not write books.’ Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell take up the distinction and declare that their volume will focus ‘on the representation, self-representation and non-representation, in literature, film and other cultural forms, of those who do write – manuscripts and memos, forms and ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote

2 April 1998
Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... Yankee book editors made themselves great by ignoring this advice. The best of them – Maxwell Perkins, Robert Giroux, Joe Fox, Bennett Cerf – allowed many brilliant young things to roll about on their front lawns, and some days they even took a drink in the company of these writers, or let their dogs loose to lick their fidgety, callused hands. A sad ...

Shapeshifter

Ian Penman: Elvis looks for meaning

24 September 2014
Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died 
by Dylan Jones.
Duckworth, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7156 4856 8
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Elvis Presley: A Southern Life 
by Joel Williamson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 19 986317 4
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... distinguished him from contemporary rockabilly dudes like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. He found an obvious joy in the staged act of seduction: the body does brazen, while the face remains convincingly bashful. Pamela Clarke Keogh’s Elvis: The Man. The Life. The Legend (2004) is mostly what you’d ...

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