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Two Poems

Patrick McGuinness, 27 June 2002

... Morning One house next next again pert green lawn white garage sprinkler muted nothing out of order no thing untoward wraparound sound, sigh of fridge door city tightening the mountains seem not to move have texture pavement empty, road adrift, the car shining safely the neighbour hood coming to a slow coming to a rolling boil No The police stations seamless, riveted and sealed, foreign as spacecrafts; still the place grows around them ...

The man whose portrait they painted

Patrick Procktor, 12 July 1990

A Life with Food 
by Peter Langan and Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 128 pp., £16.99, May 1990, 9780747502203
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... and artists warmed to him, as did taxi-drivers, policemen and women. He once said to me: ‘Patrick, you’ve got a high gloss.’ I was flattered, like some polished banister. His own story begins with particularly vivid descriptions of boyhood in Clarecastle. The sex is hilarious and the recipes are inspiring and clear. On preparing mussels: ‘If ...

Here comes the end of the world

Michael Hofmann, 23 July 1992

Bohin Manor 
by Tadeusz Konwicki, translated by Richard Lourie.
Faber, 240 pp., £12.99, July 1992, 0 571 14437 3
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... Konwicki give a fascinating picture of Poland – no, they are Poland, as Juan Rulfo is Mexico, or Patrick White Australia. Further, they contain some of the funniest, most outrageous, acid and lugubrious writing I have ever read. I don’t think I have ever been spoken to by an author the way I have by Konwicki. The first of these four books is The ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne, 8 December 1988

A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... from it. When Simon returns to the hospital some time after his discharge, an X-ray shows ‘a white smudge on the picture, behind the kneecap’. This is worse still, but it perversely seems to help Simon with his priorities: ‘The mystique around cancer makes it hard to set aside, even when it is not the most important thing.’ New importances are ...

I don’t even get bananas

Madeleine Schwartz: Christina Stead, 2 November 2017

The Man Who Loved Children 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 528 pp., £10, April 2016, 978 1 78497 148 9
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Letty Fox: Her Luck 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 592 pp., £14, May 2017, 978 1 78669 139 2
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... a knack for arousing hostility’, according to her biographer Hazel Rowley. Rowley describes Patrick White inviting Stead to lunch. White had championed her in her old age, loudly praised her work and supported her with cash transfers masked as prizes. Stead, at this point a heavy drinker, ‘arrived in a ...

Sweeno’s Beano

Nigel Wheale: MacSweeney, Kinsella and Harrison, 1 October 1998

The Book of Demons 
by Barry MacSweeney.
Bloodaxe, 109 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85224 414 3
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Poems 1980-94 
by John Kinsella.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £9.95, April 1999, 1 85224 453 4
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The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony 
by John Kinsella.
Arc, 108 pp., £7.95, January 1997, 1 900072 12 2
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The Kangaroo Farm 
by Martin Harrison.
Paper Bark, 79 pp., £8.95, May 1998, 0 9586482 4 7
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... in Australia recall themes from the poets, novelists and painters of earlier decades, including Patrick White (Riders in the Chariot) and Sidney Nolan (the Ned Kelly series). The title-poem conjures with the idea of a bird species that may or may not exist – ‘If at all, then fringe dwellers/of the centre’, like poetry, an epiphenomenon of life in ...

Bob Hawke’s Australia

Michael Davie, 6 October 1983

... So did Australia’s most celebrated historian, Manning Clark, and its most celebrated writer, Patrick White. A new bitterness, of the kind that divided Britain over Suez and the United States over Vietnam, now split Australia. That Whitlam had greatly contributed to his own destruction by his indifference to economic reality – the oil price rise ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... and topographical sweep make the poem seem almost like a fragmented and extremely compacted Patrick White novel; and it is not always easy to follow. It is technically inventive, a quasi-cinematic exercise in sudden cross-cutting and the talented mimicry of a wide range of Australian voices and accents: but I find the rise and swell of Murray’s ...

Fraud Squad

Ferdinand Mount: Imposters, 2 August 2007

The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Continuum, 363 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 1 85285 478 2
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A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson 
by Frances Welch.
Short Books, 327 pp., £14.99, February 2007, 978 1 904977 71 1
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The Lost Prince: The Survival of Richard of York 
by David Baldwin.
Sutton, 220 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 7509 4335 2
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... of the many writers who were drawn to use the story in one way or another, among them Trollope, Patrick White, Robin Maugham and Julian Symons, just as Dumas, and Boublil and Schönberg, have pounced on the story of Martin Guerre, and Verlaine, Georg Trakl and Peter Handke, not to mention a dozen playwrights and film-makers, have taken up the tale of ...

Perfect Companions

C.K. Stead, 8 June 1995

Christina Stead: A Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... Saul Bellow, Theodore Roethke, Lillian Hellman, Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Hardwick in America; Patrick White in Australia. Books previously declined were now published. There were reprints. There was an interest, and it would grow. It was all good, but it had come too late. In 1968 Bill Blake died and Stead was consumed with grief and remorse. At that ...

Roaming the stations of the world

Patrick McGuinness: Seamus Heaney, 3 January 2002

Electric Light 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.99, March 2001, 0 571 20762 6
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Seamus Heaney in Conversation with Karl Miller 
Between the Lines, 112 pp., £9.50, July 2001, 0 9532841 7 4Show More
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... image of loss comes hard on a reference to Synge’s Riders to the Sea: in Maurya’s speech ‘White boards’ are like storm-gleams on the flood At the very end, or the salt salvaged markings Of a raft for books, a bier to be borne. I imagine us bracing ourselves for the first lift, Then staggering for balance, it has grown so light. This collection is ...

What his father gets up to

Patrick Parrinder, 13 September 1990

My Son’s Story 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0764 3
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Age of Iron 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 181 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 436 20012 0
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... elsewhere written that art is ‘on the side of the oppressed’, but she has also described the white liberal’s characteristic function as that of a conciliator between oppressor and oppressed. By this token the white South African novel seems to thrive on its own impossibility – a discourse that continues to demand ...


Karl Miller, 2 March 1989

A Disaffection 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 344 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 436 23284 7
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The Book of Sandy Stewart 
edited by Roger Leitch.
Scottish Academic Press, 168 pp., £15, December 1988, 0 7073 0560 8
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... and soliloquy are perfectly gauged. Ronnie, I think, could be held to be a precursor of P for Patrick Doyle in the new novel, A Disaffection. Both works end on a possible return, on what might look like a bleak diminuendo but is really an anxiety state. There are important differences, though. Kelman stands much closer to the new hero, and much ...

Inventing Africa

Caroline Moorehead, 18 September 1980

Fantastic Invasion 
by Patrick Marnham.
Cape, 271 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 224 01829 9
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Images of Africa 
by Naomi Mitchison.
Canongate, 139 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 903937 70 0
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... We owe much to your country,’ the Anglican archbishop of Uganda told Patrick Marnham shortly before being shot in 1977. ‘We need you, and not just your knowledge; we need your fellowship. Most people here know this. What we have become, you made us.’ The tragedy of this statement suffuses Fantastic Invasion, the record Patrick Marnham brought back with him from a series of visits to West and East Africa ...

Caesar’s body shook

Denis Feeney: Cicero, 22 September 2011

Cicero in Letters: Epistolary Relations of the Late Republic 
by Peter White.
Oxford, 235 pp., £40, August 2010, 978 0 19 538851 0
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... Certainly there is no other figure from the ancient world about whom we can know so much. As Peter White demonstrates, however, in his characteristically incisive and learned book, Cicero’s letters do not provide a window into his soul, any more than the numerous letters from his many correspondents provide a window into theirs (some of them seem to have ...

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