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Pure TNT

James Francken: Thom Jones

18 February 1999
Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 312 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 9780571196562
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... recalcitrance of an underworld brawler. The former heavyweight champion is no less threatening in Thom Jones’s two previous collections of short stories; though kept in the wings, he is mentioned frequently by the centre-stage characters: a doctor who is ‘about to smirk’ when walking in on a couple having sex in the hospital ward is arrested by the ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford

12 May 1994
The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... draw aim on passing cars and people: ‘It used to put my folks real uptight,’ he tells Herr. In Thom Jones’s ‘Break on Through’, the incredibly savage Baggit also has trouble hacking it ‘back in the World’: a few months after his return, laden with honours, he barricades himself in a beauty parlour with his mother for 14 hours before shooting ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... on the margin, is far from being a stranger to mainstream anthologies, while Basil Bunting, Dylan Thomas, Edwin Morgan, R.S. Thomas, Iain Crichton Smith, Thom Gunn, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig are unassailably part of our consciousness of the poetic landscape. Auden and ...
2 May 1985
Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon 
by Sam Shepard.
Faber, 188 pp., £3.95, February 1985, 0 571 13458 0
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Paris, Texas 
by Wim Wenders and Sam Shepard.
Ecco, 509 pp., £12.95, January 1985, 0 88001 077 0
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... a nomadic, rootless, perpetually mobile way of life. It’s a continuation of the America Thom Gunn discovered: At worst, one is in motion; and at best, Reaching no absolute in which to rest, One is always nearer by not keeping still. Motel Chronicles is part-journal, part-autobiography, part-scrapbook. Memories of childhood; meetings with his ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie

3 February 1983
Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... Many years ago Thom Gunn remarked: ‘To write poetry without knowing, for example, about the proper use of runovers used to be considered as impertinent as it would be now to apply for a job as a truck driver without knowing how to shift gear.’ (Wearily, in a sanguine attempt not to be misunderstood, he added: ‘It is true that being able to shift gears does not mean that one can drive straight or that one has the necessary stamina to keep the job, but it is a prerequisite ...

Vehicles of Dissatisfaction

Jonathan Dollimore: Men and Motors

24 July 2003
Autopia: Cars and Culture 
edited by Peter Wollen and Joe Kerr.
Reaktion, 400 pp., £25, November 2002, 1 86189 132 6
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... and partly compensating for them. Today these skills are derided even as they disappear. Thom Gunn once wrote a poem celebrating them called ‘All do not all things well’ – it’s not mentioned in Autopia – which describes two ‘auto freaks’ from the American underclass who dismantle cars on driveways. Neighbours who disapprove of the mess ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’

8 March 2018
Essayism 
by Brian Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... she understood extremes.’ He makes a meal of one particular sentence (the subject is Dylan Thomas): ‘He died, grotesquely like Valentino, with mysterious weeping women at his bedside.’ Sonically, musically, it is a straightforwardly beautiful sentence: the rhyme and more between ‘died’ and ‘bedside’, the ‘i’s in ‘Valentino’ and ...
23 June 1994
... Having sampled Peter Cave’s biker novelettes, and the works of Mick Norman, Alex R. Stuart and Thom Ryder, he nominated the 18-volume Richard Allen Bildungsroman as his template. Delivered from the bourgeois neurosis invention (the demand for fresh ‘product’), his charged and spiteful prose could repossess the reactionary melancholy of Allen’s ...

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