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A Book of Evasions

Paul Muldoon, 20 March 1980

Visitors Book 
Poolbeg Press, 191 pp., £5.50, November 1979, 0 905169 22 0Show More
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... which this same blurb rails in its insistence on ‘new times’ bringing ‘new images’. Patrick Skene Catling’s ‘The Right Spot’ is the tale of an American professor of geology, Kevin J. O’Driscoll, who retires with his wife to a quiet corner of the old sod – West Cork, to be exact – where they buy a charmingly ethnic cottage. There’s ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: ‘Watercolour’, 3 March 2011

... real differences. A typical oil painting is an object, a substantial piece of work displayed on a wall. Its colour is strong, the paint may be thick, may even stand proud of the picture surface. A watercolour remains firmly in its two dimensions, is often not intended for a wall and may be a topographic or scientific ...

A Likely Story

Frank Kermode, 25 January 1996

Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 
by Michael Auping, John Elderfield and Susan Sontag, edited by Marla Price.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £28, October 1995, 0 500 09256 7
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Howard Hodgkin 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Thames and Hudson, 192 pp., £24.95, October 1994, 0 500 27769 9
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... than a man, subsisted on boiled eggs, cooked 50 at a time while he was boiling his glue, studied a wall on which sick persons had used to spit, imagining that he saw there fantastic cities and combats of horses. Moreover he would never suffer his fruit trees to be pruned or trained, and so on. Vasari improves the story by arguing that there was method in ...

Omnipresent Eye

Patrick Wright: The Nixon/Mao Show, 16 August 2007

Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao 
by Margaret MacMillan.
Murray, 384 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 7195 6522 7
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... on some of the trips for the sake of the photo opportunities. He smiled obligingly at the Great Wall, declaring that ‘a people who could build a wall like this certainly have a great past to be proud of and a people who have this kind of a past must also have a great future.’ He attended a performance of one of Madame ...

Cracker Culture

Ian Jackman, 7 September 2000

Irish America 
by Reginald Byron.
Oxford, 317 pp., £40, November 1999, 0 19 823355 8
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Remembering Ahanagran: Storytelling in a Family’s Past 
by Richard White.
Cork, 282 pp., IR£14.99, October 1999, 1 85918 232 1
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From the Sin-é Café to the Black Hills: Notes on the New Irish 
by Eamon Wall.
Wisconsin, 139 pp., $16.95, February 2000, 0 299 16724 0
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The Encyclopedia of the Irish in America 
edited by Michael Glazier.
Notre Dame, 988 pp., £58.50, August 1999, 0 268 02755 2
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... Before he became Senator for New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was an academic and the author, with Nathan Glazer, of Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians and Irish of New York City, published in 1963. Moynihan’s chief contribution was the chapter on the New York Irish, a lament which begins: ‘New York used to be an Irish city ...

Getting on

Paul Addison, 9 October 1986

On Living in an Old Country 
by Patrick Wright.
Verso, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1985, 0 86091 833 5
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Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England. Vol. II: Assaults 
by Maurice Cowling.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 25959 2
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... Here are two books about the relationship of the English to their past. According to Patrick Wright, England is a reactionary society burdened by a false mystique of national identity. To dissolve that mystique must be one of the first priorities of democratic socialists in establishing an alternative society with a renewed faith in its capacity for progress ...

Oh, My Aching Back

Roy Porter, 2 November 1995

TheHistory of Pain 
by Roselyne Rey, translated by Elliott Wallace and J.A. Cadden , and S.W. Cadden.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.50, October 1995, 0 674 39967 6
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... recent years has been the ‘gate’ theory of pain developed in the Sixties by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall. Discarding the old mechanical ‘fire-alarm’ theory as simplistic, they argued that controls operate all the way from the nerve endings to the brain. When messages from the nerve ends reach the spinal cord, a fine-tuning takes place ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... The main feature of Private Eye: The First Fifty Years, at the V&A until 8 January, is a large wall plastered with the magazine’s covers. A monumental celebration, on a grand scale, of a scruffy little rag whose production values, to this day, owe much to its memorable antecedent, the British Railways lavatory roll ...

Seeing double

Patrick Hughes, 7 May 1987

The Arcimboldo Effect 
by Pontus Hulten.
Thames and Hudson, 402 pp., £32, May 1987, 0 500 27471 1
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... of the visitor turning his head upside down, or the Emperor taking the picture off the wall, seem less likely than using the magic of the mirror. Barthes says of the Cook: ‘In rhetoric this figure is called a palindrome.’ But a palindrome – ‘T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad. I’d assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on ...


Patrick Mauriès: Halfway between France and Britain, 3 November 1983

... reader sets foot in a British bookshop, the impact is powerfully bizarre – as he stumbles into a wall of memoirs and recollections. It’s as if the minutest ghost, returned to haunt the literary scene, can enchant the greedy English customer. Let us consider now the extraordinary importance of biography for the British. To a Lacanian analyst I owe the ...

Looking for Someone to Kill

Patrick Cockburn: In Baghdad, 4 August 2005

... a dangerous business. Problems start even before you reach the first checkpoint in the perimeter wall. As we approached, a blue-uniformed Iraqi policeman, with US troops standing beside him, waved at us frantically. He was trying to warn us that if we didn’t get out of the car fifty yards in front of the checkpoint to hold up our ID cards the troops would ...

Helping Bush Win Re-Election

Patrick Cockburn: Iraq’s disintegration, 7 October 2004

... was a suicide bomber. Squatting on the floor of the hospital corridor with his back against the wall while the bodyguard talked about the assassination was a depressed looking middle-aged man. His name, he said, was Jamal Gafuri. The previous day his son Khalid had been in Haifa Street, a tough Sunni neighbourhood and bastion of the resistance, where he was ...

Ravishing Atrocities

Patrick Maynard, 7 January 1988

Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane 
by Michael Fried.
Chicago, 215 pp., £23.95, April 1987, 0 226 26210 3
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Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology 
by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 226 pp., £7.25, October 1987, 0 226 53229 1
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... Leontius the son of Aglaion, on his way up from the Piraeus under the outer side of the northern wall, becoming aware of dead bodies that lay at the place of execution at the same time felt a desire to see them and a repugnance and aversion, and that for a time he resisted and veiled his head, but overpowered despite all by his desire, with wide staring eyes ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder, 17 April 1986

Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... the Statue of the Unknown Norwegian). This book may be a ‘No 1 American Best-Seller’, but the Wall Street Journal was surely in error in comparing its author to James Thurber. Thurber is remembered for such apocalyptic tales as ‘The night the bed fell’ and ‘The day the dam broke’. No such distressing excitements have disturbed the peace of Lake ...


Patrick Cockburn: A report from a divided Iraq, 19 May 2005

... As we were speaking he toyed with a pistol on his desk. A machine-gun was propped against the wall for easy access. When we headed off down the corridor to another office in the same building he automatically tucked the pistol into his belt. The Kurds have the upper hand militarily in Kirkuk and are not going to give it up. They are intent on reversing ...

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