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Flytings

Arnold Rattenbury: Hamish Henderson, 23 January 2003

Collected Poems and Songs 
by Hamish Henderson, edited by Raymond Ross.
Curly Snake, 163 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 1 902141 01 6
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... Armstrong Nose (1996) – both edited by Alec Finlay – and Collected Poems and Songs, edited by Raymond Ross. All three books reveal Henderson, by then in his seventies and eighties, as he chose to be revealed. His only other publications had been fifty years earlier: Ballads of World War Two, collected and sometimes also written by himself, in ...

Drab Divans

Miranda Seymour: Julian Maclaren-Ross, 24 July 2003

Fear & Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross 
by Paul Willetts.
Dewi Lewis, 403 pp., £14.99, March 2003, 1 899235 69 8
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... slowly, deadpan, between puffs on a large cigar. A month later, at the age of 52, Julian Maclaren-Ross died of a heart attack in Ladbroke Grove. His last words, apparently, were ‘Graham Greene’ and then: ‘I love you.’ Obituaries expressed regret that Maclaren-Ross never wrote the great novel that had been expected ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... goes to show that broadcasting vices existed long before the days of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. None of the English writers on the British Library CD has a regional accent: Joe Orton doesn’t sound like a boy from Leicester, but like someone from Rada, which claimed only a few years of his life but all of his voice. Thankfully, some of the writers do ...

Dirty Realist

Michael Foley, 2 May 1985

Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories 
by Raymond Carver.
Harvill, 204 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 00 271243 1
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The Stories of Raymond Carver 
Picador, 447 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 330 28552 1Show More
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... Raymond Carver is a typically American hero, a kind of literary Rocky – janitor, delivery man, sawmill operator, servicestation attendant, an uneducated alcoholic no-hoper who rises to Major Writer status and the Professorship of English at Syracuse University. Most writers would give a right arm for such authentic redneck credentials and one can be sure that most funky jobs listed on blurbs were only held for a couple of weeks during summer vacations ...

Making things happen

Ross McKibbin, 26 July 1990

Heroes and Villains: Selected Essays 
by R.W. Johnson.
Harvester, 347 pp., £25, July 1990, 9780745007359
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... review of Benn’s 1963-67 diaries and Hilary Wainwright’s Labour: A Tale of Two Parties) and ‘Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson’. The first began, I imagine, simply as a critique of the Bennite Left and ended (famously) as a critique of Neil Kinnock. It argued that the political judgments and electoral sociology upon which the Bennites had based their ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... he did – although the evidence suggests that he thought his thrillers journeyman stuff. It was Raymond Chandler, in that famous piece of defensive expansionism, ‘The Simple Art of Murder’, who invoked ‘tragedy’ and ‘redemption’, proclaiming that ‘down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’, 25 April 2018

... not be the criminal’s friend or protector? The same question arises in the American novels of Ross Thomas – I’m thinking especially of the wonderful Briarpatch (1984), which is set in the West, in a place that resembles Oklahoma, but not in the easy-to-watch old days. And then there is Japan lurking behind the whole tone and style of A Fistful of ...
The Alternative: Politics for a Change 
edited by Ben Pimlott, Anthony Wright and Tony Flower.
W.H. Allen, 260 pp., £14.95, July 1990, 9781852271688
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... politics at the moment seem curiously provisional. The failures of the present government are so gross and obvious that hardly anyone, even its nominal supporters, attempts to defend it ideologically. Yet at the same time hardly anyone believes that Labour will really win the next election, or that it could cope even if it did. There is also a strong sense ...

Barriers of Silliness

J.I.M. Stewart, 1 July 1982

The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations 
by Julian Symons.
Orbis, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 85613 362 0
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Critical Observations 
by Julian Symons.
Faber, 213 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 571 11688 4
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As I walked down New Grub Street: Memories of a Writing Life 
by Walter Allen.
Heinemann, 276 pp., £8.95, November 1981, 0 434 01829 5
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... dodges. In Los Angeles he interviews an elderly private eye who may or may not be the original of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and who recounts an ostensibly real-life gangster episode which brought Chandler and the archetypal Marlowe together. Similarly the investigation of the Ellery Queen biographical tangle leads into a little ‘sealed ...

Rabbits Addressed by a Stoat

Stefan Collini: Émigré Dons, 12 July 2017

Ark of Civilisation: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University, 1930-45 
edited by Sally Crawford, Katharina Ulmschneider and Jaś Elsner.
Oxford, 396 pp., £75, March 2017, 978 0 19 968755 8
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... individuals emerge as the quiet heroes of the story. It was fortunate that A.D. Lindsay and W.D. Ross, both eminent philosophers and, respectively, master of Balliol and provost of Oriel, were exceptionally sympathetic to the plight of academic refugees, since they possessed the institutional clout to get things done. Similarly, J.L. Brierly, Chichele ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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TheConstant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... with her, Hyacinth is in pursuit of the fashionable Cyril, Cyril has a hopeless tendresse for Mrs Raymond, who is neither young nor beautiful, but seems merely ‘very unaffected, and rather ill’. For counterpoint, there is Edith Ottley, who is beginning to be tired of her own patience with her husband, but who is not yet the victim of human ...

Hanging out with Higgins

Michael Wood, 7 December 1989

Silent Partner 
by Jonathan Kellerman.
Macdonald, 506 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 356 17598 7
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‘Murder will out’: The Detective in Fiction 
by T.J. Binyon.
Oxford, 166 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780192192233
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Devices and Desires 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 408 pp., £11.99, October 1989, 0 571 14178 1
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Killshot 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 287 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 670 82258 2
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Trust 
by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 213 pp., £11.95, November 1989, 0 233 98513 1
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Polar Star 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins Harvill, 373 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 00 271269 5
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... flashbacks over forty years, strange doings between psychiatrists and patients. It is as if Ross Macdonald or Raymond Chandler had gone Gothic, while the principal movement of the fiction remained the same: California tilted into American allegory, skeletons in every designer closet, the glossy present built over a ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... like Zorro’s sword through fatty tissue and descriptive frou-frou, the severity of his cuts to Raymond Carver’s prose precipitating a controversy that still roils. Lish’s pedagogical manner, however, was the opposite of his surgical style. A born showman and provocateur, he presided over workshops and private master-classes that lasted for hours, often ...

Roth, Pinter, Berlin and Me

Christopher Tayler: Clive James, 11 March 2010

The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years 
by Clive James.
Picador, 325 pp., £17.99, October 2009, 978 0 330 45736 1
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... his father died in a plane crash while being repatriated from a Japanese POW camp – come across the more effectively for being underplayed. If, for example, there’s more going on in the young James’s obsession with aeronautical engineering than a boyish interest in jet fighters, the memoir doesn’t say. James describes his early experience of ...

The Cult of Celebrity

Jacqueline Rose, 20 August 1998

... worth). ‘It is far from honouring him who made us,’ Montaigne writes in the ‘Apology for Raymond Sébond’, ‘to honour him whom we have made.’ For Braudy, Augustine is the key figure. Augustine saw Lucretia’s suicide not as proof of her virtue but the opposite. He called her ‘praeclarissa’, ‘the most visible’, her error being to have ...

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