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8 November 1990
You’ve had your time 
by Anthony Burgess.
Heinemann, 391 pp., £17.50, October 1990, 0 434 09821 3
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An Immaculate Mistake: Scenes from Childhood and Beyond 
by Paul Bailey.
Bloomsbury, 167 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0630 2
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... have to go easy on saying that he has not just a few but far too many ideas, and often tries to pack the material for half a dozen novels into a single one of three or occasionally six hundred pages. PaulBailey was the immaculate mistake of his title, born in Battersea in 1937, the third and unintended child of a roadsweeper and a domestic help. ‘Unintended’ hence a mistake, ‘immaculate ...

Escape of a Half-Naked Sailor

P.N. Furbank: ‘Three Queer Lives’

29 November 2001
Three Queer Lives: An Alternative Biography of Fred Barnes, Naomi Jacob and Arthur Marshall 
by Paul Bailey.
Hamish Hamilton, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 241 13455 2
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... fatal flaw – actually funny. One can easily see why, moreover. To ‘queen’ is to laugh at oneself, whereas Foppington has to be blissfully innocent of any shadow of self-criticism. The novelist PaulBailey has produced a biography of three ‘Queer Lives’; that is to say, lives of the ‘queer’ or (as they have later come to be called) the ‘gay’.* The subject of the last of his studies ...
15 September 1988
... I spent ten days in May in Russia on a visit arranged by the Great Britain-USSR Society. My colleagues were the novelists PaulBailey, Christopher Hope and Timothy Mo (who also writes for Boxing News), the poet Craig Raine (who doesn’t) and the playwright Sue Townsend of Adrian Mole fame. I had many misgivings about the trip ...

Survivors

Graham Hough

3 April 1980
Old Soldiers 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 120 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 224 01783 7
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Nocturnes for the King of Naples 
by Edmund White.
Deutsch, 148 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 233 97173 4
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Solo Faces 
by James Salter.
Collins, 220 pp., £5.50, February 1980, 0 00 221983 2
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Sol 
by Mario Satz, translated by Helen Lane.
Sidgwick, 432 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 0 283 98607 7
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... resumed, digested and pondered over in between. It is something to be swallowed at a sitting, a rapid mood-changer. Here are two examples, one English and one American, both extremely accomplished. PaulBailey, with several distinguished novels to his credit already, is a master of this mode. The action of Old Soldiers, the Aristotelian space from the beginning through the middle to the end ...

Cinders

Ian Hamilton

21 October 1982
Women Working: Prostitution Now 
by Eileen McLeod.
Croom Helm, 177 pp., £6.95, August 1982, 0 7099 1717 1
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An English Madam: The Life and Work of Cynthia Payne 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 166 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 224 02037 4
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All the Girls 
by Martin O’Brien.
Macmillan, 268 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 333 31099 3
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... does Cynthia maintain this high standard of hospitality, this cheerily (and, come to think of it, literally) painstaking determination to ‘fix up’ her eccentric clientele? Her ‘biographer’ PaulBailey clearly believes she has that fabled ‘heart of gold’, that she is a kind of Lady with the Red Lamp, imaginatively caring for the wanking-wounded, the casualties of the sex war. But there ...
18 July 1985
The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur Gavshon and I may have been, the fact is that without the sustained interest of Guardian readers, and, in my case, the Labour Party up and down the country, there was no ...

Bad Nights

D.A.N. Jones

23 October 1986
The Casualty 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Chatto, 189 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780701129286
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Augustus 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 339 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 370 30757 7
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Gabriel’s Lament 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 331 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 224 02823 5
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The Mind and Body Shop 
by Frank Parkin.
Collins, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 217695 5
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... When Heinrich Böll died, last year, we had come to respect him as a Roman Catholic pacifist, a Nobel Prizeman speaking measured words to young idealists. We may have forgotten the work of his youth, the two post-war novels based on his experience of service with the German Army in Russia. The 22 stories in The Casualty were written in the immediately post-war period, 1946 to 1952, so that they are ...

Aunts and Uncles

Michael Hofmann

19 November 1992
A Feast in the Garden 
by George Konrad, translated by Imre Goldstein.
Faber, 394 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 571 16623 7
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Wartime Lies 
by Louis Begley.
Picador, 198 pp., £5.99, August 1992, 0 330 32099 8
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Brothers 
by Carmelo Samona, translated by Linda Lappin.
Carcanet, 131 pp., £13.95, August 1992, 0 85635 990 4
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Rolling 
by Thomas Healy.
Polygon, 161 pp., £7.95, July 1992, 0 7486 6121 2
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... self-admiring writers. Louis Begley’s Wartime Lies won the Ernest Hemingway and Aer Lingus prizes when it came out last year, and the paperback carries glowing tributes from Christopher Hope and PaulBailey. I don’t find myself reaching for superlatives like them, but it certainly isn’t any old first novel. Wartime Lies is a stylish and gripping account of how a Jewish boy and his beautiful ...

Sitting it out

Paul​ Sieghart

2 August 1984
Two men were aquitted 
by Percy Hoskins.
Secker, 221 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 436 20161 5
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... The trial of Dr John Bodkin Adams at the Old Bailey in 1957 was one of the causes célèbres of the post-war years. Apart from sex, it had everything. Adams was a fashionable Eastbourne doctor. Portly. With a chauffeur-driven Rolls. Charged with ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... a friend both on the strength of what she has written and because we were both part of a group of writers on a courtesy visit to the USSR, as it then was, in 1988, a party which included Craig Raine, PaulBailey and Timothy Mo. I don’t remember laughing more on any trip before or since; we were a very silly group, so much so that we often mystified our hosts and sometimes behaved disgracefully. Sue ...
22 January 1981
Ireland: Land of Troubles 
by Paul​ Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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Neighbours 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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Ireland: A History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... how should history since the 1921 Treaty be written: as if England were still part of the Irish cosmos, an integral factor in a prolonged, and possibly insoluble, post-colonial schizophrenia? Paul Johnson’s book is lively, well-informed and often provocative; his standpoint allows little space for nuances. His ‘crucial developments’ are the troubles themselves; the ‘shared experiences ...

Don’t Move

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Fictional re-creations of Vermeer

9 August 2001
Girl with a Pearl Earring 
by Tracy Chevalier.
HarperCollins, 248 pp., £5.99, July 2000, 0 00 651320 4
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Girl in Hyacinth Blue 
by Susan Vreeland.
Review, 242 pp., £6.99, May 2001, 9780747266594
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A View of Delft: Vermeer Then and Now 
by Anthony Bailey.
Chatto, 288 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 7011 6913 3
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Vermeer's Camera 
by Philip Steadman.
Oxford, 207 pp., £17.99, February 2001, 0 19 215967 4
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... to the ideal cherished by Flaubert, and Joyce, of the impersonal perfectionist, the artist as God of creation, ‘invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his finger nails’. In 1934 Paul Claudel was celebrating ‘a pure gaze, bare, sterilised, washed of all substance, of an ingenuousness in some ways mathematical or angelic’. The fictional re-creations of Vermeer’s private life ...

My God, the Suburbs!

Colm Tóibín: John Cheever

5 November 2009
Cheever: A Life 
by Blake Bailey.
Picador, 770 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 330 43790 5
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... did not love John, who was born in 1912. By the time his mother was pregnant with him, indeed, the marriage was under so much strain that Cheever’s father invited an abortionist to dinner. As Blake Bailey writes in his biography: ‘It was a story that haunted Cheever the rest of his life … Not surprisingly, he saw fit to blame his mother for having the bad taste to tell him of the episode.’ The ...
9 March 1995
... in Britain, Rita Mae Brown in the States – have become ‘crossover’ writers with a mass-market audience including, presumably, many straight readers. Perhaps a few more gay male writers – Paul Monette, David Leavitt and Armistead Maupin in the US, Alan Hollinghurst, PaulBailey, Adam Mars-Jones in Britain – enjoy this crossover status. International comparisons, however, can be ...
23 January 1986
Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul​ Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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Outposts 
by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... and must be given self-government at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile, the war itself was ‘part of a world revolution of the common man, aimed at a new world of plenty and security’. Paul Addison, in Now the war is over, an excellent book derived from a good TV series, sees Common Wealth as representing a ‘strand of socialist utopianism, to be found mainly among the professional ...

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