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Stony Ground

Peter D. McDonald: J.M. Coetzee, 20 October 2005

J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event 
by Derek Attridge.
Chicago, 225 pp., £13.50, May 2005, 0 226 03117 9
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Slow Man 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 265 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 436 20611 0
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... In a respectful but chary review of The Life and Times of Michael K (1983) in the New York Review of Books, Nadine Gordimer wrote about J.M. Coetzee’s ‘conscious choice’ of allegory as a literary mode in his first three novels ...

Enid’s Scars

Peter McDonald, 23 June 1988

You must remember this 
by Joyce Carol Oates.
Macmillan, 436 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 333 46182 7
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A Case of Knives 
by Candia McWilliam.
Bloomsbury, 266 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 7475 0074 6
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Burning your own 
by Glenn Patterson.
Chatto, 249 pp., £11.95, March 1988, 0 7011 3291 4
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... well-chosen, being itself both a fragment of popular culture (‘As time goes by’ seems to be lodged there pretty firmly by now) and an imperative which forces readers towards a confrontation with the very past to ...

Between Kisses

Peter McDonald, 1 October 1987

The Propheteers 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 306 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14878 6
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A Summer Affair 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 263 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7011 3140 3
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People For Lunch 
by Georgina Hammick.
Methuen, 191 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 413 14900 5
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... A line running with its own logic from the Biblical wilderness to the theme-park; a link between motel-chains, breakfast cereals, Walt Disney and cryonic freezing: connections of this kind are impossibly eccentric, demonstrable only in the special surroundings of highly-coloured fiction provide d by Max Apple’s The Propheteers, which makes them into the threads of a very uncomfortable web indeed, one in which post-war American society is caricatured with remorseless precision, its values inflated into religious terms that seem ludicrous only at first ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... Peter Lilley, an international fraud investigator and no relation of the Tory MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has written a book called  Dirty Dealing: The Untold Truth about Global Money Laundering (Kogan Page, £16 ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice, 7 February 2008

Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald</a>.
Faber, 836 pp., &pound;30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., &pound;12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., &pound;9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Do dd</span>s.
Faber, 288 pp., &pound;9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... As Louis MacNeice lay dying in 1963, his last major work, a radio play called Persons from Porlock, was broadcast by the BBC. It is about a painter called Hank, who starts well in the 1930s, but whose development, as MacNeice explains in a note, ‘is interrupted by the war ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Hating Football, 27 June 2002

... I can tell you the exact moment when I decide d to hate football for life. It was 11 June 1978 at 6.08 p.m. Scotland were playing Holland in the first stage of the World Cup Finals in Argentina ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reade
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., &pound;17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald</a> and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., &pound;20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... What exactly is book history? Literature students consulting their reference libraries would be hard put to find an answer: ‘history of the book’ appears nowhere in M.H. Abrams’s Glossary of Literary Terms or Margaret Drabble’s Oxford Companion to English Literature, and the names most ubiquitous in The Book History Reader, Roger Chartier and  D ...

Accidents of Priority

John Redmond, 22 August 1996

Can You Hear, Bird&nbsp;
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 128 pp., &pound;9.95, February 1996, 9781857542240
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The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 
by Jorie Graham.
Carcanet, 220 pp., &pound;12.95, March 1996, 1 85754 225 8
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Selected Poems 
by Barbara Guest.
Carcanet, 220 pp., &pound;12.95, May 1996, 1 85754 158 8
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Selected Poems 1976-1996 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 126 pp., &pound;9.99, March 1996, 0 19 283223 9
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Adam’s Dream 
by Peter McDonald</a>.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., &pound;6.95, March 1996, 1 85224 333 3
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... Famous poems, like faces, are a particularly memorable kind of introduction to the person they conceal. Like other kinds of introduction, they are often what we remember a person for, or what we think of when we hear their name ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 1 June 2016

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., &pound;25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... It is the fate​ of some artists,’ John Ashbery once remarked, ‘and perhaps the best ones, to pass from unacceptability to acceptance without an intervening period of appreciation.’ For a long time – more than forty years in fact – there seemed no danger that this fate would befall J ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Mrs Robinson Repents, 28 January 2010

... Iris Robinson is, at the time of writing, under acute psychiatric care in a Belfast hospital, after a BBC Northern Ireland  documentary revealed that she had, at the age of 59, solicited £50,000 from two property developers to help fund a business run by her 19-year-old lover, Kirk McCambley ...

Diary

Nick Laird: Ulster Revisited, 28 July 2011

... I took my daughter back to County Tyrone at the end of June to see my parents, and to spend some time with my sister and her children, who were also visiting ...

Diary

Susan McKay: Breakdown in Power-Sharing, 8 March 2018

... The​ latest talks aimed at restoring devolved rule to Northern Ireland have failed. Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and first minister of Northern Ireland when the Stormont Assembly collapsed early last year, has urged the Conservative secretary of state, Karen Bradley, who has been in office for a matter of weeks, not only to ‘set a budget but also to take key decisions impacting on our schools, infrastructure and hospitals ...

As seen on TV

Keith Kyle, 26 September 1991

From the House of War 
by John Simpson.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., &pound;13.99, August 1991, 0 09 175034 2
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In the Eye of the Storm 
by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti.
Bloomsbury, 342 pp., &pound;16.99, August 1991, 0 7475 1050 4
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... For many people the BBC Foreign Affairs Editor John Simpson, who stayed behind in Baghda d when Armageddon was scheduled to begin, was the civilian hero of the Gulf War ...

The Parliamentary Peloton

Peter Mair: Money and Politics, 25 February 2010

A Very British Revolution: The Expenses Scandal and How to Save Our Democracy 
by Martin Bell.
Icon, 246 pp., &pound;11.99, October 2009, 978 1 84831 096 4
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... During a summer school on the theme of parties and  democracy held at the European University Institute in Florence last September, the talk turned to political corruption, as it often does when politics students visit Italy ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... In Madrid the other week a literary journalist told me the following joke. A man goes into a pet shop and sees three parrots side by side, priced at $1000, $2000 and $3000 ...

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