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Faking It

Sam Gilpin: Paul Watkins

10 August 2000
The Forger 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 343 pp., £9.99, July 2000, 0 571 20194 6
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... or confuse natural form, or simply reveal an absence of adequate manual and artistic skill’. Goebbels’s Deutecher Kunstbericht had appeared in 1933 and discredited artists like Otto Dix and Paul Klee had already been removed from teaching posts at German academies. The new decree formalised the persecution of the avant-garde movement in art. Around sixteen thousand works of art were ...
28 September 1989
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn 
by Paul Watkins.
Century Hutchinson, 269 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 09 173914 4
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Blood and Water 
by Patrick McGrath.
Penguin Originals, 183 pp., £4.99, February 1989, 0 14 011005 4
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The Grotesque 
by Patrick McGrath.
Viking, 186 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82987 0
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... PaulWatkins’s novel and Patrick McGrath’s The Grotesque are second books by young British writers whose work has been well-received in America, to which, together with its surrounding seas, both of these ...
24 September 1992
Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul​ Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... over. But at any moment in literary time, genuinely young talents are emerging. Three British novelists who have made names for themselves and written copiously while still in their late twenties are PaulWatkins, Paul Sayer and Louis de Bernières. Watkins had his first novel (Night over Day over Night) nominated for the Booker, and won the Encore Prize with his second. Sayer won the Constable Trophy ...

Don’t blub

Michael Hofmann

7 October 1993
Stand before Your God: Growing up to Be a Writer 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 203 pp., £14.99, August 1993, 0 571 16944 9
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... In his slightly overplayed beginning, Watkins says:   I swear, I thought I was going to a party.   I had a new suit made of blue corduroy and new black shoes that came with a free pack of playing cards. I was seven years old. What he was ...
30 August 1990
People of the Black Mountains. Vol. II: The Eggs of the Eagle 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 330 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3564 6
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In the Blue Light of African Dreams 
by Paul Watkins.
Heinemann, 282 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 09 174307 9
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Friedrich Harris: Shooting the hero 
by Philip Purser.
Quartet, 250 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 7043 2759 7
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The Journey Home 
by Dermot Bolger.
Viking, 294 pp., £13.99, June 1990, 0 670 83215 4
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Evenings at Mongini’s 
by Russell Lucas.
Heinemann, 262 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 434 43646 1
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... Williams’s stories make them seem dull and obscure. Probably he compressed too much: he might have stayed with one period for a longer space, adding long footnotes, in the manner of Walter Scott. PaulWatkins’s book is more like a historical novel, more of a storyteller’s work. In the Blue Light of African Dreams is an offputting title: it sounds like a Modern Jazz suite or a Proms first (and ...

War on God! That is Progress!

Susan Watkins: Paul​ Lafargue and French socialism

13 May 1999
Paul​ Lafargue and the Flowering of French Socialism, 1882-1911 
by Leslie Derfler.
Harvard, 382 pp., £27.95, July 1998, 0 674 65912 0
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... Paul Lafargue drove Engels to despair. Negotiating with other French socialists over the founding of the Parti Ouvrier Français in 1881, he committed ‘blunder after blunder’ and nearly wrecked the ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode

6 June 1985
The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... in 1932 and updated in three subsequent editions and many reprints. It has now been extensively re-edited by Margaret Drabble, aided by an impressive list of experts. The original editor, Sir Paul Harvey, explained that his intention was to be useful to ordinary everyday readers. He offered the dates and brief biographies of a large number of English authors, listed the more important works of ...

Acts of Violence in Grosvenor Square

Christopher Hitchens: Memoirs of a Revolutionary

4 June 1998
1968: Marching in the Streets 
by Tariq Ali and Susan Watkins.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 7475 3763 1
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The Beginning of the End: France, May 1968 
by Angelo Quattrocchi and Tom Nairn.
Verso, 175 pp., £10, May 1998, 1 85984 290 9
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The Love Germ 
by Jill Neville.
Verso, 149 pp., £9, May 1998, 1 85984 285 2
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... in the grip of several stout bobbies, her skirt round her waist while one especially beefy constable administered a spanking. (For all I know, this is one of the many triggers that may have set Paul Johnson off.) Tariq Ali was the moving spirit of that rally and this book – which includes the spanking picture – brings it all back with exquisite vividness. It’s hard to recall what a hate ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment

20 November 2014
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... intrinsic to his late romanticism, part of what made him the ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive’, as he labelled himself. But he could have escaped the legend to which he had devoted such energies. As Paul Ferris’s excellent biography established some time back, while Thomas was certainly in a bad way, his death was down to a medical blunder. He wasn’t martyred by the barbarians of the Inland ...

A Terrible Thing, Thank God

Adam Phillips: Dylan Thomas

4 March 2004
Dylan Thomas: A New Life 
by Andrew Lycett.
Weidenfeld, 434 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 297 60793 6
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... Kingsley Amis called Dylan Thomas’s life, the life told by Thomas’s first thorough biographer Paul Ferris, ‘a hilarious, shocking, sad story’. Thomas was very important to the Amis-Larkin club partly because he seemed determined not to be seen to be taking anything, including himself, too ...

Loners Inc

Daniel Soar: Man versus Machine

3 April 2003
Behind Deep Blue: Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion 
by Feng-hsiung Hsu.
Princeton, 300 pp., £19.95, November 2002, 0 691 09065 3
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... no self-deprecations: it was less equivocal, more final. I took for a while to reading about chess, along with stories about musketeers. I killed giants vicariously; I liked the legends. In 1858, Paul Morphy, a boy from New Orleans, played a count and a duke in a box at the Paris Opera during a performance of The Barber of Seville, and chose to throw away his major pieces one by one, finishing ...
4 May 2016
‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... Christmas edition, informing readers that ‘the Parisienne’s day is not complete unless she wears the colour of spring.’ Champcommunal was more fashion-conscious than Todd; she knew people like Paul Poiret – the first person to design a dress, it’s said, that a woman could put on by herself. It’s not clear how the early editors were chosen, or what qualifications were expected in a country ...
27 September 2018
How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... to face up to your own impending demise, but to see it advance towards you over the bodies of your friends. Jarman made a note in his diary in April 1989: ‘Since autumn: Terry, Robert, David, Ken, Paul, Howard. All the brightest and best trampled to death – surely even the Great War brought no more loss into one life in just 12 months, and all this as we made love not war.’ In March 1992: ‘We ...

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