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Michael Gove recommends …

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley, 20 January 2011

The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... sold in his lifetime is widely accepted, though the basis for it is elusive – the only source Phil Baker cites in his exhaustive biography is Wheatley’s own memoirs, and Wheatley was a relentless self-aggrandiser; but it sounds about right. In the mid-1960s, three decades into his career, he had 55 books in print, which collectively accounted for ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event , 20 April 1995

... Pennsylvania. The occasion is ‘Groundhog Day’, when a local creature named Punxatawney Phil is reputed to predict the coming season’s weather. I think it’s the angle of his shadow that is supposed to work the trick. A long time ago, this media ritual passed the point at which it could be called self-satirising, and became instead a ludicrous ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... over the surface of the earth.’ The arrival of Reg restores him to life’s imperfection. Howard Baker, the Swiftian hero of Sweet Dreams, is more fortunate, transported from the Highgate traffic to Heaven, a ‘golden land of opportunity’ and ‘a society so complex that everyone in it is winning the race’. The ideal metropolis reveals its wonder ...

Diary

Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... No one talking about anything else. The Speaker gave a right bollocking to Kate Hoey and Norman Baker for allegedly colluding with our oppressors in the media. A good five minutes’ worth. I’ve never seen him so worked up. Actually, it was way over the top. Gave the impression he is rattled, which I imagine he is.  Then to a jam-packed meeting of the ...

What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... to rise from the ashes. Several prominent Tory Brexiteers, including Iain Duncan-Smith and Steve Baker, have military backgrounds. As with the Second World War, Brexit will perform an X-ray of our collective moral fibre. Remainers love facts, but are afraid of the truth. This is, I suspect, as close to a Conservative ideology of Brexit as exists. At the very ...

Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... meant you might find the same artfully capable background players on a Sinatra album, a Phil Spector 45 and a Brian Wilson pop suite, as well as anything from supper-club Soul to Exploitation soundtracks and misty Exotica. The Second World War had also worked a kind of happy miscegenation into America’s alienated micro-cultures: people from ...

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