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21 October 1993
‘The Pit’ and ‘Tonight’ 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Peter Bush.
Quartet, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1991, 0 7043 2767 8
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The Shipyard 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Nick Caistor.
Serpent’s Tail, 186 pp., £8.99, February 1992, 1 85242 191 6
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‘Farewells’ and ‘A Grave with No Name’ 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Peter Bush.
Quartet, 136 pp., £12.95, March 1992, 0 7043 7015 8
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Body Snatcher 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Quartet, 305 pp., £13.95, October 1991, 9780704327979
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A Brief Life 
by Juan Carlos Onetti, translated by Hortense Carpentier.
Serpent’s Tail, 292 pp., £9.99, February 1993, 1 85242 301 3
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Cuando ya no importe 
by Juan Carlos Onetti.
Alfaguara, 205 pp., £10.95, March 1993, 84 204 8107 6
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... Juan Carlos Onetti, 84 years old and now a Spanish citizen, living in Madrid, is one of the most distinguished and most neglected of Latin American writers. He was born in Montevideo, but takes the idea of being an important Uruguayan author as something short of a compliment, even as a kind of joke. He hasn’t sought his neglect, but he has cultivated the neglect he found, made it part of his story ...

Two Poems

Peter​ Redgrove

3 February 1983
... ledge, a skier’s swoop, A silky plunge like lilies Like valleys of lilies, or rolling chalk, Like torchbeams spreading, in a wide valley, Scented valley, the way of orris And of rosewater; and the bush Gives into the hand, it is bosomy; And the tree seems to rave, or think ardently, Flickering with the orange light Of the sea behind it, through the Innumerable eyelids, winking leaves, As he removes ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter​ Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... ground – to substitute for war the image of war. That effort, failing in Vietnam, produced the news reporter as American hero – Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam, Seymour Hersch, Jonathan Schell, Peter Arnett. They reported not only the war the government did not want its citizens to see, but also the government efforts to invent a war for domestic consumption. ‘Part of the Vietnamese Seventh ...

Blair Must Go

Peter​ Clarke: Why Tony Blair should go

11 September 2003
... an inescapable burden of responsibility. They have played together as a team and he is indisputably the captain. The football idiom here is not just a metaphor: it’s more serious than that. When Peter Stothard was allowed to follow Blair for the month that saw the Iraq war begin, he quickly had to learn the argot, as his revealing book recounts.* Campbell duly makes his dig against Jack Straw, who ...

Dad & Jr

Christian Lorentzen: Bushes Jr & Sr

4 December 2014
... It’s been​ five years and ten months. I confess to a bit of nostalgia for the nihilism that came with being governed by George W. Bush. For all the continuities, Obama arouses more earnest responses: apologetics, disappointment, head-shaking, Occupy, Edward Snowden. Bush’s arrogance has turned out to be that of a man destined to ...

Sonic Foam

Ian Penman: On Kate Bush

16 April 2014
... A dream,​ just before waking. It’s a day or two after Kate Bush’s unexpected announcement of her return to the concert stage for a series of shows later this year. In my dream, Bush takes the form of a child’s tiny hardback book: solid, substantial, not too many pages. On the front cover is a menagerie of cartoon animals, all Smartie-tube colours and toothy smiles. (It looks a ...

Virgin’s Tears

David Craig: On nature

10 June 1999
Nature: Western Attitudes since Ancient Times 
by Peter​ Coates.
Polity, 246 pp., £45, September 1998, 0 7456 1655 0
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... of shingle ramped up by the Atlantic they charged each other, clashed foreheads with a bony thump, backed off and charged again, while the nanny waited nearby, a seemingly dispassionate spectator. Peter Coates’s study of the evolving meanings of ‘nature’, in Europe and North America, is preoccupied with the human tendency to invade nature, altering, exploiting and ‘reinventing’ it. He ...

The Long War

Andrew Bacevich: Motives behind the Surge

26 March 2009
The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq 
by Thomas E. Ricks.
Allen Lane, 394 pp., £25, February 2009, 978 1 84614 145 4
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... Ricks’s Fiasco, published in 2006, was a scathing account of the invasion and occupation of Iraq; The Gamble covers the ‘surge’ that pulled Iraq back from the edge of the abyss. By 2006, with Bush still insisting that the war was going swimmingly and the Pentagon keen to hand the war over to the Iraqis, it seemed that the US was heading for a catastrophic defeat. If it proceeded with plans to ...

In the Garden

Peter​ Campbell: Rampant Weeds

26 April 2007
... steep hillsides round Wellington when I was growing up. It would catch fire; great columns of smoke and flame were one of summer’s excitements. Now most of those hillsides have reverted to native bush. Gorse, like blackberry, was a plant of choice for those writers in the 1930s and 1940s who wanted home truths and had no truck with Georgian verses in which the fern and tui had been too easily ...


Christopher Hitchens: In Washington

7 February 1991
... Mark Hatfield, the Republican from Oregon, refused either choice and voted against both resolutions. In his speech announcing the immediate exercise of the powers Congress had conferred on him, Bush oddly borrowed a phrase from Tom Paine and said: ‘These are the times that try men’s souls.’ This line actually introduces Paine’s masterly pamphlet ‘The Crisis’, and goes on to talk ...

Flyweight Belligerents

Michael Byers: À la carte multilateralism

5 May 2005
... the bargain, and returning to a way of thinking that predates – and was a reason for the negotiation of – the NPT. In Leonard Wibberley’s novel The Mouse that Roared (1955), later made into a Peter Sellers film, a tiny impoverished country declares war on the United States in the hope of being rapidly defeated, occupied and reconstructed. The plan goes wrong when the flyweight belligerent ...


Peter​ Porter

4 September 1986
... to see, Devoid of any Panglossian lumber, A backyard warning to the newly rich. Especially as we’ve tamed the whole wide land To seem Pelagian peninsula Where terrors have a user-friendly feel. The bush looks Art Nouveau, the wattles steal Their hazy shapes from Mucha; in the car The Esky waits the barbecue’s command. No doubt the mainframe’s large enough to cope With sharks and bushfires ...
10 March 1994
... harrows To reduce the poet. Decorous it is to read From between the skins of calves The stories of the deaths of poets. My roach crackles in my hand. This is where they left his face Hanging in this bush; now the world Will look at us with his face always; this line Of hedge, this singing tree, this furrowed Rock, they join to make a landscape-face Out of the side of the mountain, improvised. They ...

At Low Magnification

Peter​ Campbell: Optical Instruments

9 September 2010
... one. Tremor degrades the image in all hand-held devices, which is why telescopes are used with tripods. In the low-magnification world, as the lens brings the leaf in your hand or the bird in the bush closer, the content of the visible world is multiplied. Looking at things closely leads to wondering what they are called. The sporadic self-education in natural history that goes with picking up ...

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