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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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... glancing allusiveness, like Martin Amis, or cover it with the cloak of magical realism, which, whatever its dubious imaginative benefits, weakens any intended social point. So it is no surprise that StuartHood 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 ...
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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... as a ‘lest we forget’ preachiness. But here the nobility of the characters in the novel makes a genuine claim on the reader. Carcanet publish A Storm from Paradise, together with a reissue of StuartHood’s Carlino.* Carlino is straight autobiography, recording the author’s experiences with the Italian Resistance during the war. A Storm from Paradise has equally strong but less direct roots ...

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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... the end of ‘The Golden Bird’ a circular from a local shopkeeper is distributed throughout the island. The shopkeeper’s name, not at all a common one, is Mr Halcro. A Mr Halcro also features in StuartHood’s novel The Upper Hand – in fact, two Mr Halcros, one of them a cat. The first of these, after whom the cat is named, recruits the narrator as a casual Intelligence agent during his ...

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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... of the questions, not necessarily posed in those words, pondered by Gillian Spraggs in her scholarly, 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 ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington

16 April 1998
... help supply the answers to niggling editorial puzzles: for example, the identity of ‘Bluebell’ (Conquest’s 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Kurosawa

22 February 2007
Yojimbo 
directed by Akira Kurosawa.
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... High Noon (1952), and the film was of course remade as The Magnificent Seven (1960). What Kurosawa saw 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 ...

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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... and well liked, they find a ‘particularly massive and bleak’ estate, which ‘conjures up the now familiar and haunting spectre of urban alienation’. Alison and Peter Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar is a ‘particularly depressing place to live in’, with an ‘almost manic system of walls and moats’, mainly an ‘example of the late modernist avant-garde determination to ...

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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... present. But the delicate process whereby bright and open-minded undergraduates were identified 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 ...
1 October 1998
England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... lozenges or offering wafers. There is, for example, his anxious habit of indicating his theme in his opening sentences. Turning to page one of Talking It Over and reading that ‘My name is Stuart, and I remember everything,’ one can be pretty sure that Stuart’s problem is going to be that he can’t forget (and sure enough, 250 pages later, Stuart’s ex-wife is forced to perform an ...

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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... a soufflé.’ This confused us performers and wrecked the show. Later in life, Codron became 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 ...

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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... Welsh national dress to eisteddfods, established the triple-strung Italian harp as the Welsh national instrument and gave the Cardigan trickster Twm Sion Catti, sometimes known as the Welsh Robin Hood, a wider audience. Charlotte Guest edited and translated the Mabinogion, a genuinely medieval Welsh wonder-tale anthology which had been ‘crowded out of the Myvyrian Archaiology by Iolo’s ...

Boomerang

Sylvia Lawson

18 February 1988
Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... the limitation of its address to readers who are already culturally privileged. The work, she said, 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 ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
... room for babies, computer terminals and all the paraphernalia of big business. There are some nice 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 ...
29 August 1991
... liberty there is one basic or primitive conception of freedom: this is freedom as power, action unimpeded, 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 ...

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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... than his ability to write his way out of them or the capacity of the magazines to absorb his torrent 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 ...

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