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Sleeping It Off in Rapid City

August Kleinzahler, 22 February 2007

... have done, no one knows why The Bible Store respires in its sanctum As if in an outsize black glass humidor This is a sacred ground, a holy place 4 a.m. in a sacred place I can tell this is a sacred place, I needn’t be told It’s in the air I feel it This old heritage hotel, this is a sacred place The tour buses are lined up outside it Awaiting the ...


David Runciman: Winners Do Drugs, 3 August 2006

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports 
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
Gotham, 332 pp., $26, March 2006, 1 59240 199 6
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... the saddest museum I had ever seen. The reason it lurks in the entrance to a mall – just a few glass-fronted displays of old shirts, balls and assorted memorabilia for people to glance at on their way to spend money on something else – is that Maris made it clear before his death from lymphoma at the age of 51 that he didn’t want anyone to make a ...

Poetry Inc.

Christopher Reid, 18 September 1986

A Ringing GlassThe Life of Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Donald Prater.
Oxford, 472 pp., £25, March 1986, 9780198157557
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Letters: Summer 1926 
by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva and Rainer Maria Rilke, edited by Yevgeny Pasternak and Yelena Pasternak.
Cape, 251 pp., £15, May 1986, 0 224 02376 4
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... detachment from the surrounding world and a dismaying evasiveness in personal matters. A Ringing Glass would be the perfect title for an account of such a life if all it evoked was a hollow vessel and its power of eerie resonance. But Prater, who has lifted the words from one of the Sonnets to Orpheus – Be here among the vanishing in the realm of ...

Family Life

Penelope Fitzgerald, 25 March 1993

Poet and Dancer 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 199 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 7195 5189 7
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Peerless Flats 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 241 13385 8
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... The poet is not a poet in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s new novel, and the dancer is not a dancer. ‘Although her movements were always the same – she waved her arms above her head, she ran now to the right of the room, now to the left – her audience obligingly saw what she wanted them to see. She was pleased, she ran faster, she attempted to spin round; her tread was not light, and she was flustered and breathing hard ...

Foreign Body

Tim Winton, 22 June 1995

Patrick White: Letters 
edited by David Marr.
Cape, 678 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 224 03516 9
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... him than cause him grief or loss. In his working life he was rarely without champions, his mother Ruth being the first (however unwelcome she was in the role of booster). For a diffident man he had many friends, and for a difficult writer he had many readers. As an Australian writer he was English enough to reassure the English and exotic enough to interest ...

Gosh oh gee

Alan Allport: ‘Being Boys’, 21 November 2013

Being Boys: Youth, Leisure and Identity in the Interwar Years 
by Melanie Tebbutt.
Manchester, 352 pp., £75, February 2012, 978 0 7190 6613 9
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... whether or not to break it off. So he sought advice in a distinctively modern way: he wrote to Ruth English, agony aunt of Everybody’s, a weekly tabloid. Advice columns very quickly became common in British newspapers and magazines in the late 1930s. Though the concept of the agony aunt extended as far back as the 17th century, it took the launch of the ...

Who mended Pierre’s leg?

David A. Bell: Lourdes, 11 November 1999

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age 
by Ruth Harris.
Allen Lane, 473 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7139 9186 0
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... the sort of scorn and vitriol that French freethinkers once directed at the Roman Catholic Church. Ruth Harris’s book exemplifies the promise of this approach rather than its excesses. Pasteur appears only incidentally in its pages, yet he lurks behind them, for the book’s great theme is precisely the confrontation between modern, scientific, secular ...


Derek Mahon, 5 June 1980

by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 85635 284 5
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The Strange Museum 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 51 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 9780571115112
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The Psalms with their Spoils 
by Jon Silkin.
Routledge, 74 pp., £2.95, April 1980, 0 7100 0497 4
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The Equal Skies 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.75, March 1980, 0 7011 2491 1
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Sibyls and Others 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 141 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 09 141030 4
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... but there is real mystery there at times: looks like them elementals just poured       a glass of blue champagne            and you look up             – silver fizz –           because your body                   is             the stem. I’m very sorry to have to say so, but ...

Doing It His Way

Adam Mars-Jones, 11 May 1995

Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard 
by Timothy Mo.
Paddleless, 286 pp., £13.99, April 1995, 0 9524193 0 0
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... potential for practical application, “the water temperature will chill the outside of the glass.” ’ Readers of literary prose don’t mind doing a bit of work, but in this book the division of labour between reader and writer is highly unequal. Time spent within the book trying to make sense of basic verbal structures is time taken away from ...

Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones, 20 October 1983

The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... harlot, Bathsheba who was tempting to King David, Tamar who coaxed her father-in-law – and even Ruth, who crept under the bedclothes of Boaz, her kinsman. Does not this suggest that Matthew wanted to show that Mary was descended from ‘sinners’? This is far-fetched. We are not convinced that Matthew meant his readers to think all these women ...

The world’s worst-dressed woman

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 1 August 1996

Queen Victoria’s Secrets 
by Adrienne Munich.
Columbia, 264 pp., £22, June 1996, 0 231 10480 4
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... themselves provide one such moment, when Munich juxtaposes a passage from Through the Looking-Glass, in which the Red Queen demonstrates with all her imperious illogic that nights ‘here’ are ‘five times as warm, and five times as cold’ as other places, with an account of Victoria written by her private secretary, Henry Ponsonby: When she insists ...

Collapse of the Sofa Cushions

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 24 March 1994

Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics 
by Isobel Armstrong.
Routledge, 545 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 415 03016 1
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The Woman Reader: 1837-1914 
by Kate Flint.
Oxford, 366 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 19 811719 1
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... Scott and Thackeray, but found herself tempted by a few well-bound volumes of poetry kept behind glass in the drawing-room: whenever her parents were in London, she later reported, she would open the bookcase and ‘take delicious draughts of verse’ – Tennyson and Matthew Arnold proving, it seems, ‘all the sweeter for being read in secret’. By her ...

Edgar and Emma

John Sutherland, 20 February 1986

World’s Fair 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 275 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 7181 2685 8
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The Adventures of Robina 
edited by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 571 13796 2
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... Cranston the Shadow than is good for him. There are a few high points. Edgar gets on the Babe Ruth radio programme. There is a day at the beach and a day in the country. Various fringe members of the family drift in and out of the home, though none of them seems to amount to much. One day, Edgar is held up by two knife-wielding young Nazis. But he ...

Was she Julia?

Stephen Spender, 7 July 1983

Code Name ‘Mary’: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground 
by Muriel Gardiner.
Yale, 200 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 300 02940 3
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... was unable to accept Muriel as a patient, but wrote to her recommending his pupil and colleague Ruth Mack (later, Ruth Brunswick), who did analyse her. Anna Freud, in the introduction to Code Name ‘Mary’, makes it clear that she thought Muriel Gardiner’s activities were unique, almost incredible: ‘Those of us ...

Barbie Gets a Life

Lorna Scott Fox, 20 July 1995

Barbie’s Queer Accessories 
by Erica Rand.
Duke, 213 pp., £43.50, July 1995, 0 8223 1604 8
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The Art of Barbie: Artists Celebrate the World’s Favourite Doll 
edited by Craig Yoe.
Workman, 149 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 1 56305 751 4
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... is veiled by conflicting myths of origin. In the Beginning, Barbie was attributed by Mattel to ‘Ruth Handler, Devoted Mom’: this is Rand’s term to distinguish her from the ‘Ruth Handler, Mattel Founder’, who got done for fraud and dropped from the tale. (She went on, aptly, to make breast prostheses.) Today Mattel ...

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