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In Service

Anthony Thwaite

18 May 1989
The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... Boyt’s title, and a cycle of birth, marriage and death documented with a curiously impressive and distasteful laconic relish. Possibly Rose Boyt is about to become the George Gissing of our day. RebeccaBrown, looking at family life, is more inclined towards a kind of allegory. The Children’s Crusade presents childhood and families as battlegrounds, campaigns, cold wars, in which love and loyalty ...

Games-Playing

Patrick Parrinder

7 August 1986
The Golden Gate 
by Vikram Seth.
Faber, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13967 1
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The Haunted House 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 139 pp., £8.95, June 1986, 0 330 29175 0
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Whole of a Morning Sky 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 156 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 86068 774 0
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The Piano Tuner 
by Peter Meinke.
Georgia, 156 pp., $13.95, June 1986, 0 8203 0844 7
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Tap City 
by Ron Abell.
Secker, 273 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 436 00025 3
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... done in prose. The result is a strange blend of racy, colloquial literary enterprise and static neo-Victorian values. Despite its neo-gothic title, The Haunted House betrays no hint of anachronism. RebeccaBrown explores a daughter’s fantasies about her father and mother, and the manifold emotional damage they have caused her, with poetic feeling and a sustained and controlled intensity. Robin Daley ...

Palermo

Rebecca​ Tamás

11 October 2018
... You have burnt me too brown you must boil me again Veronica Forrest-Thomson     i kept having this hunch that pleasure was a philosophy    but i couldn’t explain it       peach juice   going down   my ...
17 October 1985
A Maggot 
by John Fowles.
Cape, 460 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02806 5
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The Romances of John Fowles 
by Simon Loveday.
Macmillan, 164 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 333 31518 9
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... penis. The young woman shows no shock or outrage when she realises this obscenity, though her hands are arrested in their smoothing.’ As for the other two riders, one of them purports to be ‘Mr Brown’, the uncle of Mr Bartholomew, and the man in the dragoon’s hat calls himself ‘Sergeant Farthing’, Mr Brown’s manservant, a sort of ‘minder’ against highwaymen. John Fowles interposes ...

Finest People

Penelope Fitzgerald

3 December 1992
Letters from Margaret: Correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Margaret Wheeler 1944-50 
edited by Rebecca​ Swift.
Chatto, 279 pp., £13.99, November 1992, 0 7011 4783 0
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... use to her in any case; although she and her husband took all the available genetic tests, the Rylatts understandably refused, both for themselves and for Peggy. Peggy, meanwhile, grew up tall and brown-eyed in a short, fair haired, blue-eyed family. Margaret (whom she thought of as her honorary aunt) pressed on relentlessly with her campaign. Rebecca Swift, who has edited this correspondence, says ...
7 February 1980
Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination 
by David Brown.
Routledge, 239 pp., £9.75, August 1980, 0 7100 0301 3
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... as an intellectual of quite a different cast: the first novelist to represent the historical process, the first portrayer of society in terms that Adam Smith might and Karl Marx did approve. David Brown makes the academic case admirably. He begins by modestly disclaiming originality: he is developing insights put forward by others in recent years, and only applying them more carefully to a selection ...

Short Cuts

Tariq Ali: So much for England

13 January 2020
... I never thought this one would be such a crushing defeat, but while Labour’s losses should not be underplayed, it’s worth remembering that the party’s share of the vote was lower under Gordon Brown in 2010 and Ed Miliband in 2015. In terms of seats and numbers, the Conservatives did worse in both 1997 and 2001. The liberal commentariat that was hoping that the Lib Dems would replace Labour as ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones

21 November 1985
The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca​ West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... it was Uncle Joe. The whole song needs critical interpretation. Whose side is Monkey Pitter really on? Loyalties does, in its mysterious way, say more about the subject promised by its title than Rebecca West managed with The Meaning of Treason. She was not very good at moralising, because of her strong tendency to be self-righteous and unfair. But she was good at creating female characters and ...

Into the Eisenshpritz

Elif Batuman: Superheroes

10 April 2008
Life, in Pictures: Autobiographical Stories 
by Will Eisner.
Norton, 493 pp., £18.99, November 2007, 978 0 393 06107 9
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Epileptic 
by David B..
Cape, 368 pp., £12.99, March 2006, 0 224 07920 4
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Shortcomings 
by Adrian Tomine.
Faber, 108 pp., £12.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23329 8
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Misery Loves Comedy 
by Ivan Brunetti.
Fantagraphics, 172 pp., £15.99, April 2007, 978 1 56097 792 6
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... surgeon Joseph Bell.) Nonetheless, the hero-in-two-persons arrangement is vestigially present in many cyclically narrated comics. Probably the best-loved example is the duality of Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Snoopy, the romantic ‘hero’, is variously an attorney, a pulp novelist, an Olympic figure-skater, a Beagle Scout, Flashbeagle, the Lone Beagle, the Flying Ace, a World-Famous Golfer, a World ...

In the Box

Dale Peck

6 February 1997
How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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Push 
by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz, remain its only viable practitioners; or the so-called New Narrativists of the first half of this decade, writers as diverse in talent and sensibility as RebeccaBrown, Dennis Cooper, Kathy Acker, Gary Indiana and Sarah Schulman, writers whose main similarity seemed to be that they all started out at small presses before being ‘discovered’ by big houses ...

Middle-Aged and Dishevelled

Rebecca​ Solnit: Endangered Species?

23 March 2006
In the Company of Crows and Ravens 
by John Marzluff and Tony Angell.
Yale, 384 pp., £18.95, October 2005, 0 300 10076 0
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... removing small corpses and rescuing the living. A lot of species have been too fragile, too particular in their requirements, to survive our wholesale transformation of their environment. The Brown Satyr butterfly, endemic to San Francisco, where I live, became extinct sometime in the 19th century, and the Xerxes Blue vanished during World War Two when its Golden Gate habitat was overtaken by ...

Diary

Rebecca​ Solnit: In Fukushima

10 May 2012
... When​ I met him, Otsuchi city administrator Kozo Hirani, a substantial, balding man in a brown pinstripe suit, was on the upper floor of a warren of small-scale temporary buildings that now house the town’s administration. To reach him I had flown to Tokyo, taken a train more than three ...
14 December 1995
Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Liverpool, 170 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 85323 439 6
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The History of Mr Wells 
by Michael Foot.
Doubleday, 318 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 385 40366 6
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A Modern Utopia 
by H.G. Wells, edited by Krishan Kumar.
Everyman, 271 pp., £5.99, November 1994, 0 460 87498 5
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... including enforced abortion and infanticide. Parrinder grants that in Anticipations Wells was apparently willing to countenance the elimination (but not genocide) of the ‘swarms of black and brown’ in the same name of ‘efficiency’. He concedes that Wells ‘equivocated embarrassingly about the Jews’, but then anti-semitism was part of the eugenic philosophy which the writer had picked ...

Costume Codes

David Trotter

12 January 1995
Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel 
by Jane Eldridge Miller.
Virago, 241 pp., £15.99, October 1994, 1 85381 830 5
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... was one of which writers were acutely aware. In 1926, Violet Hunt, who began to publish in the 1890s, described herself as the kind of New Woman people used to write about long ago, and her friend Rebecca West, who joined the staff of the Freewoman in 1911, as a prototype of the ‘Newest Woman’. The gap opens within The Unlit Lamp itself. For although the novel is radical in its acknowledgment of ...

Dry Lands

Rebecca​ Solnit: The Water Problem

3 December 2009
Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming and the Future of Water in the West 
by James Lawrence Powell.
California, 283 pp., £19.95, January 2010, 978 0 520 25477 0
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... as precarious as that of the desert towns, but whose thirst has long outstripped its regional resources and reached the Colorado River, far to its east. T.S. Eliot’s Mississippi was a ‘strong brown god’: the Colorado River is more like a ruddy writhing serpent. Or was, since the snake has now been chopped into segments by dams, notably by Glen Canyon Dam above the Grand Canyon, and Hoover Dam ...

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