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Booker Books

Frank Kermode, 22 November 1979

... respect of professional critics, who are favoured: V.S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, David Storey, Paul Scott, Iris Murdoch, for instance. Beyond that it isn’t easy to see much significance in the list – perhaps there’s a nostalgia for the old Empire (Scott, J.G. Farrell, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, plus Nadine Gordimer, Naipaul, and P.H. Newby on ...

Wayne’s World

Ian Sansom, 6 July 1995

Selected Poems 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Penguin, 151 pp., £5.99, August 1994, 0 14 058735 7
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... The poem ‘Like Earning a Living’ is full of such distaste: What’s an elephant? I say to the slack-mouthed girl who answers back, a trainee ventriloquist, then smirks at Donna. She dunno. Nor does the youth with the face. And what would that say, fingered? I know, Video. Big Mac. Lager. Lager. What like’s a wart-hog? Come on. A weary ‘Come ...

Diary

Karl Miller: What is rugby for?, 5 December 1991

... players and policies. The gifted Jeremy Guscott doesn’t always deliver the ball when he should. Paul Ackford ‘made his Test debut against us at Twickenham at the ripe old age of 30 years nine months! You can’t accuse the Poms of rushing players into international rugby before they are ready for it, can you?’ I am not an expert on the rules of the ...

Hellmouth

Michael André Bernstein: Norman Rush, 22 January 2004

Mortals 
by Norman Rush.
Cape, 715 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 224 03709 9
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... but in the economic or cultural heartland of the global American imperium. Except for Jane and Paul Bowles in Morocco, only Robert Stone and Joan Didion suggest themselves, and neither of them is associated closely with any one setting. On the whole, American writers seem convinced that the vital features of their society are most clearly discernible at ...

But this is fateful!

Theo Tait: Jonathan Lethem, 16 March 2017

The Blot: A Novel 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 289 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 10148 6
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The Blot 
by Jonathan Lethem and Laurence Rickels.
Anti-Oedipus, 88 pp., £6.99, September 2016, 978 0 9905733 7 1
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... idea came out of his love for stories about gamblers, such as Walter Tevis’s The Hustler and Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance. For the Singapore sections, he reread a fair amount of Graham Greene. The idea of a man whose life is changed by an operation on his face was inspired by the John Frankenheimer thriller Seconds, in which John Randolph is given ...

What would socialism be like?

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 March 1984

In the Tracks of Historical Materialism 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 112 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 86091 776 2
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The Dialectics of Disaster 
by Ronald Aronson.
Verso, 329 pp., £5.95, February 1984, 9780860910756
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Rethinking Socialism 
by Gavin Kitching.
Methuen, 178 pp., £3.95, October 1983, 0 416 35840 3
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The Economics of Feasible Socialism 
by Alec Nove.
Allen and Unwin, 244 pp., £12.95, February 1983, 0 04 335048 8
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The Labour Party in Crisis 
by Paul Whiteley.
Methuen, 253 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 416 33860 7
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... army or completely lacking in discipline; it may be ascetic or eudemonist in spirit; energetic or slack; thinking only of the future or the day; warlike and nationalist or peaceful and internationalist; equalitarian or the opposite; it may have the ethics of lords or the ethics of slaves; its art may be subjective or objective; its forms of life ...

Dark Sayings

Thomas Jones: Lawrence Norfolk, 2 November 2000

In the Shape of a Boar 
by Lawrence Norfolk.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 297 64618 4
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... knuckles and brought one hand up to join the other. The arch of his right foot tautened and the slack weight of his body hung between these extremities, slung like a carcass from a pole. He could not hold himself here for long. A vague outswelling created an overhang whose brow rolled back out of sight. He thought of the arc his arm must follow and the ...

Deadad

Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade, 17 August 2006

... like Kötting. Negative nurses, in black PVC, attempt to inflate a benign corpse, to resuscitate slack flesh, crank a dead engine. They step back to admire their handiwork, their victim. It is Kötting, every time; he confesses. The story cooks the glue of memory: his father, a house in the suburbs, a wardrobe. His older brother, Pete, was short. Kötting ...

From Soixante-Huit to Soixante-Neuf

Glen Newey: Slack-Sphinctered Pachyderm, 29 April 1999

Collected Papers: Technology, War and Fascism 
by Herbert Marcuse, edited by Douglas Kellner.
Routledge, 278 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 415 13780 2
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The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy after the Holocaust 
by Norman Geras.
Verso, 181 pp., £15, June 1998, 1 85984 868 0
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... preferred today. Enough material there for a whole case-history. Notwithstanding the title of Paul Alexander Juutilainen’s recent film docubiog about Marcuse, Herbert the Hippopotamus, the slack-sphinctered pachyderm in LaRouche’s first sentence refers not to Marcuse, late consort of Korsch, Davis and the ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... more Martianism in another Faber debut, Philip Gross’s The Ice Factory. Clogged webs are slack-strung tennis nets; convulvulus, frail horn gramophones for bees – the opening lines assert, pulling out all the stops, but also requiring too much of that comma (which stands in for a plural verb but is asked to be singular), and perhaps also of ...

Lowry’s Planet

Michael Hofmann, 27 January 1994

Pursued by Furies: A life of Malcolm Lowry 
by Gordon Bowker.
HarperCollins, 672 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 215539 7
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The Collected Poetry of Malcolm Lowry 
edited by Kathleen Scherf.
British Columbia, 418 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7748 0362 2
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... it has a deal to offer: a subject with a cult following, but also with a certain amount of slack in his reputation (‘almost certainly Lowry is the least-known British literary genius of the 20th century,’ Bowker says, a little flatly); action (or its substitute, relocation); eloquence and wit in its subject’s presentation of himself, a human ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... scribble, scribble. If only one could be proud of the result.’ In fact, the prose never went slack or ceased to catch hold of what it needed from the language as it changed. Always more expansive in admiration than detraction, his writing became positively spaced out for a moment at the Brighton Pavilion in 1965. Here he announces, surprisingly, that the ...

Is the particle there?

Hilary Mantel: Schrödinger in Clontarf, 7 July 2005

A Game with Sharpened Knives 
by Neil Belton.
Weidenfeld, 328 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 297 64359 2
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... In 1926 he published his wave equation, for which he would share the 1933 Nobel Prize with Paul Dirac. What were the waves in question? They were waves of probability, as it would turn out. In 1927, Heisenberg formulated his Uncertainty Principle; and while the uncertainty – or indeterminacy – related to precise measurements at the quantum ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... generally indicted as the brainier half of a monstrous power couple. But the novel cuts her some slack for putting up with Sollers, then still the editor of Tel Quel, who in the course of the 1970s went from Moscow-line communism to Maoism and then to pro-Americanism with a sprinkling of libertinage and Catholic mysticism. Binet casts Sollers as a childishly ...

Alan Bennett chooses four paintings for schools

Alan Bennett: Studying the Form, 2 April 1998

... occasionally to be seen: reproductions on board of work by modern British painters – Ravilious, Paul Nash, Henry Moore, Pasmore. These, I think, were put out by Shell and turn up occasionally nowadays at auction, though not quite at Sotheby’s. That I’ve always liked – and found no effort in liking – British paintings of the Forties and Fifties I ...

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