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City of Dust

Julian Symons, 25 July 1991

A Den of Foxes 
by Stuart Hood.
Methuen, 217 pp., £13.99, July 1991, 9780413651105
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Dirty Tricks 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 241 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 571 16216 9
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A Strange and Sublime Address 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Heinemann, 209 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 9780434123483
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Spider 
by Patrick McGrath.
Viking, 221 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 670 83684 2
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... its dubious imaginative benefits, weakens any intended social point. So it is no surprise that Stuart Hood and Michael Dibdin concern themselves with the present state of society and morality via Science Fiction and a crime story. Both have produced ingenious – indeed, immensely clever – fictions. Hood’s Peter ...

Getting on

Patricia Craig, 17 September 1987

The Golden Bird: Two Orkney Stories 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 226 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 7195 4385 1
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The Upper Hand 
by Stuart Hood.
Carcanet, 186 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 719 7
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Dreams of Dead Women’s Handbags 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 160 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 434 44044 2
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... Fiord has been brought down to earth, if rumour is to be believed. ‘Eagle John’ was his childhood nickname, after the bird that stole him from behind a stook in a cornfield, bore him off to its eyrie and then lost him to the infuriated mother, who climbed the crag to retrieve her child. To Fiord, a crofter’s son, there is no difference between that ...

Carrying on with a foreign woman

John Sutherland, 7 November 1985

Galapagos 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 269 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 224 02847 2
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A Family Madness 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 315 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 340 38449 2
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A Storm from Paradise 
by Stuart Hood.
Carcanet, 188 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 85635 582 8
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Samarkand 
by John Murray.
Aidan Ellis, 255 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 85628 151 4
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The Sicilian 
by Mario Puzo.
Bantam, 410 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 593 01001 9
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Putting the boot in 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 224 02332 2
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... with the Kabbels deepens. Running alongside it are Rudi Kabbel’s reminiscences of his childhood in wartime Minsk and his father Stanislaw’s journal from the same period. Kabbel senior emerges as a romantic Belorussian patriot, collaborating with the occupying German SS (commanded by ‘Uncle’ Willi Ganz) so as to further the long-term aim of ...

Delightful to be Robbed

E.S. Turner: Stand and deliver, 9 May 2002

Outlaws and Highwaymen: The Cult of the Robber in England from the Middle Ages to the 19th century 
by Gillian Spraggs.
Pimlico, 372 pp., £12.50, November 2001, 0 7126 6479 3
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... close-textured Outlaws and Highwaymen, which began as a thesis on the robber in Tudor and early Stuart times. Outstanding among her early villains is the Folville gang, headed by a rascally rector, who murdered a Leicestershire magnate and robbed one of Edward I’s trailbaston judges, before going on to commit numerous robberies in Lincolnshire. The gang ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... dog), or ‘engine driver Hunt’, from a passage in a letter reading ‘Praed, Hood, Gilbert – and engine driver Hunt’ (Hunt turns out to be a subject, not an author, of light verse, from the pseudonymous Conquest limerick beginning ‘A young engine driver called Hunt’), or the meaning of the abbreviations PWR, IWICSLMSK and BHQ ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Kurosawa, 22 February 2007

Yojimbo 
directed by Akira Kurosawa.
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... sooner than anyone else was that the mixture had stabilised into cliché, and Japanese studios, Stuart Galbraith tells us in The Emperor and the Wolf (2003), his book on Kurosawa and Mifune, were turning out samurai movies as fast as they could go. Time for parody; but not only for parody. The film is full of music, for instance, a loud, witty soundtrack by ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?, 20 August 2014

Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... consists of ‘Westminster Pimlico Nine Elms South Lambeth Vauxhall Kennington’ – a neighbourhood you probably haven’t met. The system can be maddeningly counterintuitive; you expect to be able to cover your grid on foot only to find that the building you wanted to see can only be reached by a tube or a bus journey, or by crossing the river. The ...

Half-Timbering, Homosexuality and Whingeing

Ian Sansom: Julian Barnes, 1 October 1998

England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... climaxes and crises), the themes comforting and familiar (the meaning of memory, of nationhood and selfhood), the idiom entirely typical and self-regarding. England, England, in other words, is a book which not only poses questions about integrity and authenticity, but is itself something of a poser. This is, I’m ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... more expert at giving Notes. He appears in Hall’s diary instructing him (by telegram) to release Stuart Burge from the National Theatre to work at the Royal Court, to save it (for the nation, I suppose). Hall obeys the Note, and releases the talented director for his salvage work at Chelsea. The Secretary-General of the Arts Council thanks Hall ‘for being ...

The Voice from the Hearth-Rug

Alan Ryan: The Cambridge Apostles, 28 October 1999

The Cambridge Apostles 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life 
by W.C. Lubenow.
Cambridge, 458 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 521 57213 4
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... and sounded out, while the existing Apostles made up their minds whether they were apt for embryo-hood, remained the same. Once elected, Apostles were obliged to attend the dinners every Saturday evening in term. The obligation to stand in front of the fireplace and discuss what had been said, let alone to read three essays to the group, was felt by many ...

Bardism

Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... tradition, extirpated or corrupted by Rome, or terrible examples of an exploitative celibate priesthood, contemporary morals to be drawn accordingly. None of this now dead debate seems, however, to have much bearing on modern images of druids – as seen for instance in Panoramix (in English versions, Getafix), the village druid of the Asterix the Gaul ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... bits of furniture but the atmosphere (well-heeled retired couples, women in sharp little Robin Hood hats, men in Barbours) puts me off, and having driven fifty miles to get there, I spend ten minutes looking round, then beat a quick retreat. I drive back over upper Wharfedale to Kettlewell on a road that used to be deserted and scarcely signposted, though ...

Boomerang

Sylvia Lawson, 18 February 1988

Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... is ‘unlikely to penetrate average Australia’, dominated as it still is by racist mythologies. Stuart Macintyre, discussing the whole project, put it succinctly: ‘It’s not easy to do justice to the underdog in a volume with gold-blocked end-leaves.’The contradictions which cut between the printed substance and its packaging can also be traced, in a ...
... in particular, by other people. Some thinkers, such as Hobbes and, some of the time, John Stuart Mill, think that this is the conception of freedom, and that it contains all that one knows or needs to know about its value. But this is to identify the seed and the plant, or the rhythm and the dance; it does not get us very far in answering ...

The Animalcule

Nicholas Spice: Little Mr De Quincey, 17 May 2017

Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 397 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 1 4088 3977 5
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... of copy. He worked in conditions of creative chaos. Visiting him in his lodgings in 1823, Thomas Hood found him ‘quite at home in the midst of a German ocean of literature, in a storm, flooding all the floor, the table and the chairs – billows of books, tossing, tumbling, surging open’. His friend Matthew Hill recalled De Quincey turning up for ...

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