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Japanese Love

Anthony Thwaite

14 June 1990
Childhood Years: A Memoir 
by Junichiro Tanizaki, translated by Paul McCarthy.
240 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 00 215325 4
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The Great Mirror of Male Love 
by Ihara Saikaku, translated by Paul​ Gordon Schalow.
371 pp., $37.50, February 1990, 0 8047 1661 7
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... Life of an Amorous Woman and G. W. Sargent’s The Japanese Family Storehouse have been known for a long time in the West, and have led Saikaku to be thought of as a sort of Japanese Defoe. Paul Gordon Schalow’s labours in translating and introducing The Great Mirror of Male Love reveal a rather different Saikaku. This book is a collection of 40 short stories ‘depicting homosexual love ...

Forty Thousand Kilocupids

Marina Warner: The Femfatalatron

30 July 2014
The Erotic Doll: A Modern Fetish 
by Marquard Smith.
Yale, 376 pp., £35, January 2014, 978 0 300 15202 9
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... shop window mannequins in a glass box; their blasted insides sprout spars of crystals, mineral wounds which speak bitterly against the soft porn of their erotic doll-like state. In another room PaulMcCarthy has directed Hollywood special effects technicians in his hometown of Los Angeles to create a nature morte of truly unsettling naturalism: That Girl (T.G. Awake) places three effigies of a model ...

What the hell happened?

Alexander Star: Philip Roth

4 February 1999
I Married a Communist 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 323 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 224 05258 6
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... old Murray passes several martini-flavoured nights on Nathan’s porch, their conversation returns again and again to Murray’s long dead brother Ira, who was blacklisted and disgraced during the McCarthy era. Murray’s monologue and Nathan’s reminiscences combine to tell the story of Ira’s rise and fall: his flight from Newark to the zinc mines of western New Jersey; his conversion to Communism ...
19 October 1995
Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger 
by Elzbieta Ettinger.
Yale, 139 pp., £10.95, October 1995, 0 300 06407 1
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Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954: Uncollected and Unpublished Works 
by Hannah Arendt, edited by Jerome Kohn.
Harcourt Brace, 458 pp., $39.95, May 1994, 0 15 172817 8
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Hannah Arendt: A Reinterpretation of Her Political Thought 
by Margaret Canovan.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £12.95, September 1995, 0 521 47773 5
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Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy 
edited by Carol Brightman.
Secker, 412 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 436 20251 4
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Hannah Arendt/Karl Jaspers: Correspondence, 1926-1969 
edited by Lotte Kohler and Hans Saner, translated by Robert and Rita Kimber.
Harcourt Brace, 821 pp., $49.95, November 1992, 0 15 107887 4
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... life, her commentaries on contemporary political issues, uncommonly learned by American standards, appeared in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She established friendships with Mary McCarthy, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell and W.H. Auden, who went so far as to propose marriage (she declined). Arendt has never inspired universal admiration, however. ‘She seems to me to be inaccurate in ...

Seeing Things Flat

Jenny Turner: Tom McCarthy’s ‘C’

9 September 2010

by Tom McCarthy.
Cape, 310 pp., £16.99, August 2010, 978 0 224 09020 9
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... makes clear the source of Sophie’s trouble: it’s veiled, confused, conflicted. As such questions so often are in life. ‘One of the real structural understandings of great literature,’ Tom McCarthy told the Believer in 2008, ‘is that it’s an event … this seismic set of ripples that goes on through time, backward and forward.’ And so, in place of interpretation, the novel chooses instead ...

Like a Manta Ray

Jenny Turner: The Entire History of Sex

21 October 2015
The Argonauts 
by Maggie Nelson.
Graywolf, 143 pp., £23, May 2015, 978 1 55597 707 8
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... me, you are not familiar with the queer and avant-garde art worlds of southern California, one joy of reading Nelson is getting introduced to them: Catherine Opie and A.L. Steiner, Chris Burden and PaulMcCarthy, Ryan Trecartin and Mike Kelley, Nao Bustamante and William Pope.L. Nelson spends less time on work that, in her view, is stupid, arrogant or exploitative. Names that come up in this context ...

Seven Days

R.W. Johnson

4 July 1985
The Pick of Paul​ Johnson: An Anthology 
Harrap, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 245 54246 9Show More
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... Paul Johnson does not, as they say, need much introduction. Whatever one thinks of his opinions, one has to admire his frenetic energy. From 1955 to 1970 he poured forth strong left-wing views in the New ...

The World’s Most Important Spectator

David Bromwich: Obama’s World

2 July 2014
... a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, presents himself as another adoptive and grateful American of Cuban descent (though born in Canada). He bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Joe McCarthy – a clean-shaven, teetotal McCarthy, without the jowl and the after-hours squint. Cruz talks smoothly and skilfully, always in a tone of accusation: a manner that one might suppose had passed with ...

Booker Books

Frank Kermode

22 November 1979
... whole it is the moderate sellers, writers who are not exactly caviare to the general but have won the 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 ...

Orwellspeak

Julian Symons

9 November 1989
The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St George’ Orwell 
by John Rodden.
Oxford, 478 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 19 503954 8
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... wondered what he would have said about drugs, trade unions, birth control and student demos. The American ex-Communist Granville Hicks believed that he would have come out against both Stalin and Joe McCarthy, and implied that he would have approved of repentant Communists testifying before the McCarthy Commission. Such pointless but harmless guesswork is different from Mary McCarthy’s attack when ...
5 April 1984
Industry, Unions and Government: Twenty-One Years of NEDC 
by Keith Middlemas.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, January 1984, 0 333 35121 5
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Strikes in Post-War Britain: A Study of Stoppages of Work Due to Industrial Disputes, 1946-73 
by J.W. Durcan, W.E.J. McCarthy and G.P. Redman.
Allen and Unwin, 448 pp., £20, November 1983, 0 04 331093 1
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Picketing: Industrial Disputes, Tactics and the Law 
by Peggy Kahn, Norman Lewis, Rowland Livock and Paul​ Wiles.
Routledge, 223 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9534 1
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... appear speculative. Explanations of strike patterns proceed serially through each relevant factor, with a mere three pages of the conclusion lamely attempting to consider their interaction. Durcan, McCarthy and Redman are enthused mainly by the task of testing the thesis of the Donovan Commission of 1965-8 (of which McCarthy was Research Director): that strikes were largely a reflection of fragmented ...

The Divine Miss P.

Elaine Showalter

11 February 1993
Sex, Art and American Culture 
by Camille Paglia.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, March 1993, 0 670 84612 0
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... Who is hotter than Mary McCarthy? Smarter than Susan Sontag? Funnier than Harold Bloom? Well, if you take her word for it, it’s Camille Paglia, come to set the world straight on the burning issues of our time: tenured radicals ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland

21 April 1988
Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... every seven years or so, or a “brilliant” writer like John Gardner and write obscure books for bright academics who eat macrobiotic foods and drive old Saabs with faded but still legible GENE McCARTHY FOR PRESIDENT stickers on the rear bumpers.’ Instead of which he is the ‘King of Horror’ who had his face on Time, 6 October 1986 (the only author in that year to receive the honour), who sold ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: Homo Trumpiens

3 November 2016
... Hey, everybody,​ how about it, huh?’ Paul Ryan said, coming onto a stage decorated with hay bales and pumpkins in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of 9 October. ‘Man, good day! Good to see you, what a beautiful day, huh? Welcome to ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides

24 October 2019
Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... undertone of ‘oy vey’ amid the bombast. When Sontag arrived in New York two decades earlier, the closest model for a belletrist sans merci was the critic, novelist, and wickedest of wits Mary McCarthy, who told Susan she smiled too much, the telltale mark of a provincial. McCarthy was also reputed to have said to Sontag, ‘I hear you’re the new me,’ and, to others, ‘She’s the imitation me ...

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