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The First Protest

Stephen Frears, 24 May 2018

... turned Gaullist minister of culture. A piece in the Guardian by their great Paris correspondent, Peter Lennon, described what happened next. There had been a demonstration outside the padlocked gates of the Palais de Chaillot. Godard had been one of its leaders. I was working at the BBC and talked my producer into sending me to Paris. I had heard about ...

Tears in the Café Select

Christopher Prendergast, 9 March 1995

Paris Interzone: Richard Wright, Lolita, Boris Vian and Others on the Left Bank 1946-1960 
by James Campbell.
Secker, 305 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 436 20106 2
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Foreign Correspondent: Paris in the Sixties 
by Peter Lennon.
Picador, 220 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 330 31911 6
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The Good Ship Venus: The Erotic Voyage of the Olympia Press 
by John de St Jorre.
Hutchinson, 332 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 09 177874 3
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... Paris figures in the titles of both James Campbell’s and Peter Lennon’s books, but this is a restricted, specialised Paris. Campbell takes us into something called the ‘Interzone’ (the term is odd, and troublesome), inhabited by assorted exiles, misfits and drop-outs during the Fifties and late Forties ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... personal history and the pretty stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J. Michael Lennon’s ‘double life’ of Norman Mailer and offer that doubleness back as subjective criticism. Mailer, after all, gave us the non-fiction novel, Lennon gives us the pseudo-objective biography, so why can’t I ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... nothing to do with the A6 murder, but that they had been on intimate terms with the real killer: Peter Alphon. I was hooked on the case that gloomy February afternoon and, nearly 32 years later, I still am. Bob Woffinden’s new book* has revived the intoxicating mixture of anguish and curiosity with which Jean Justice inspired me all those years ago. Since ...

Il n’y a pas de Beckett

Christopher Prendergast, 14 November 1996

Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett 
by James Knowlson.
Bloomsbury, 872 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 7475 2719 9
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Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist 
by Anthony Cronin.
HarperCollins, 645 pp., £25, October 1996, 9780246137692
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol I: Waiting for Godot 
edited by Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson.
Faber, 472 pp., £75, March 1994, 0 571 14543 4
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol II: Endgame 
edited by S.E. Gontarski.
Faber, 276 pp., £50, November 1992, 0 571 14544 2
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol III: Krapp’s Last Tape 
edited by James Knowlson.
Faber, 286 pp., £50, May 1992, 0 571 14563 9
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Eleutheria 
by Samuel Beckett, translated by Barbara Wright.
Faber, 170 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571178261
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... this upmarket version of RIP, especially when we recall Beckett’s remark to the journalist, Peter Lennon: ‘I have never had a single untroubled moment in my life.’ In an act of misprision that one would normally characterise as incredible, Ricks graces Griffiths’s envoi with the comment that it displays a ‘respectful poignancy’ (perhaps ...

History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... the reference books perhaps. If fame alone is the criterion, where are the Beatles, who, as John Lennon justly pointed out, became more famous than Jesus Christ? In fact, few entertainers qualify, though there are four sporting figures: the cricketers Bradman and Grace, the footballer Pelé and the baseball player Babe Ruth. In addition, Sir Roy Welensky was ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: King Charles the Martyr, 21 February 2019

... crowd’, I scribbled in my notebook. ‘Mutton-chop whiskers, chin beards, Van Dyke beards. Blue Lennon shades. Camel overcoats.’ The priest spoke of the king’s renunciation of his ‘earthly crown’, pronounced ‘crine’. Back inside and seated for the service, I spotted more birettas than I’d seen on Anglicans before. I hadn’t heard readings ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... of decisive incidents, both familiar and sombre: the Notting Hill Riots of 1958; Tory candidate Peter Griffiths winning Smethwick six years later with the slogan ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour’; Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in 1968; the New Cross fire of 1981 which killed 13 young black men and women; the riots in St ...

Music and Beyond

Hans Keller, 21 October 1982

Hanns Eisler: Political Musician 
by Albrecht Betz, translated by Bill Hopkins.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £25, June 1982, 0 521 24022 0
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Music and Political: Collected Writings 1953-81 
by Hans Werner Henze, translated by Peter Labanyi.
Faber, 286 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 571 11719 8
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Vindications: Essays on Romantic Music 
by Deryck Cooke and Bryan Magee.
Faber, 226 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11795 3
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... wordless work like the String Trio define with quasi-mathematical precision. It is, incidentally, Peter Labanyi, not Bill Hopkins, who rightly translates ‘committed’; Bill Hopkins turns it into the foreign-sounding ‘engaged’. And while both translations seem competent, Labanyi’s is the more natural. But then he could no doubt avail himself of the ...

The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones, 11 December 1997

Hand To Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 436 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 571 17149 4
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... Then in Leviathan, published some years later, Auster uses the same initials for the narrator, Peter Aaron; and anagrammatic sleight of hand (Delia/Lydia, Iris/Siri: Auster’s real-life loves past and present) further blurs the boundaries between his facts and his fictions. So one approaches his openly autobiographical Hand to Mouth with ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie, 5 April 2012

Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... across: much of Hunky Dory consists of pastiches of Bowie’s musical heroes of the 1960s – John Lennon, Syd Barrett, Anthony Newley, Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground. Which would make Ziggy Stardust the beautiful butterfly that emerged from the chrysalis. Paul Trynka begins his biography with a description of Bowie’s performance of ...

Punk-U-Like

Dave Haslam, 20 July 1995

The Black Album 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1995, 0 571 15086 1
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The Faber Book of Pop 
edited by Hanif Kureishi and Jon Savage.
Faber, 813 pp., £16.99, May 1995, 0 571 16992 9
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... than a hundred and fifty pieces extracted from punk fanzines, key texts of pop history (such as Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music and Ice T’s autobiography) and the weekly music press, as well as from more outré authorities on pop music (such as Joe Orton) and a few anti-pop pieces (by Paul Johnson and Richard Hoggart, among others). Liveliest and ...

A Bit of Ginger

Theo Tait: Gordon Burn, 5 June 2008

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel 
by Gordon Burn.
Faber, 214 pp., £15.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 19729 3
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... book, Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son (1984), was a painstaking re-creation of the life of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. He topped that with an account of Fred and Rosemary West’s killing careers, Happy like Murderers (1998). The first resembles a documentary; the second is more like a novel in the sense of being more artfully shaped and ...

Diary

Jonathan Lethem: My Marvel Years, 15 April 2004

... living together and sometimes apart, and each of them with lovers.Luke had an older brother, Peter, whom both Luke and I idealised in absentia. Peter had left behind a collection of 1960s Marvel comics in sacrosanct box files. These included a nearly complete run of The Fantastic Four, the famous 102 issues drawn by ...

Thatcher’s Artists

Peter Wollen, 30 October 1997

Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection 
by Norman Rosenthal.
Thames and Hudson, 222 pp., £29.95, September 1997, 0 500 23752 2
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... the properties of various drugs. Not only do they turn out to be textual paintings, cousin to Peter Davies’s painted list of the top one hundred all-time hit paintings: they effect a stealthy return to Hirst’s pre-occupation with the body and with disease and death. Keith Coventry’s white on white tribute to Malevich conceals portraits, painted in ...

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