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Neo-Catastrophism

Eric Klinenberg: Sinful Cities?, 9 October 2003

The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea 
by Thomas Bender.
New Press, 287 pp., $30, September 2002, 1 56584 736 9
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Dead Cities: and Other Tales 
by Mike Davis.
New Press, 448 pp., $16.95, October 2003, 1 56584 844 6
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... sees as a continuous process of creative destruction, refusing to let any obstacle block its path? Thomas Bender and Mike Davis are two of America’s leading urban scholars. Bender is a cultural historian known for his accounts of the intellectual and aesthetic life of US cities, and for tracing the distinctively ...

Das Nuffa Dat and BigGloria3

Elaine Showalter: Up and Down the Academic Ladder, 1 November 2001

Academic Instincts 
by Marjorie Garber.
Princeton, 187 pp., £11.95, February 2001, 9780691049700
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Postmodern Pooh 
by Frederick Crews.
North Point, 175 pp., $22, October 2001, 0 86547 626 8
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... the two. Taking up the question of the public intellectual, she approvingly quotes a definition by Thomas Bender: one who ‘uses literature for larger purposes, to talk about subjects that matter to contemporary society’. The public intellectual has ‘the capacity to speak to more general and deeply felt questions and aspirations, and to do so in a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Blair’s nuptials, 3 March 2005

... trip, hopping north from town to town, with a pledge in every port of call. But back too from the bender he’s been on with his pal Mr Bush, the pair of them staying out late, starting fights and getting into trouble. But the decent, hard-working people of Britain ought to forgive him for that: ‘On some issues, sometimes you just have to agree to ...

Mastering the Art of Understating Your Wealth

Thomas Keymer: The Tonsons, 5 May 2016

The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... the circumstances of Stanhope’s death – he had collapsed in the Lords following an all-night bender at Newcastle House. Tonson’s most obvious reward for his loyalty was a lucrative forty-year patent as king’s stationer, conferred in 1720. But he too now hankered for retirement, and began delegating more and more to his energetic nephew. After two ...

Les zombies, c’est vous

Thomas Jones: Zombies, 26 January 2012

Zone One 
by Colson Whitehead.
Harvill Secker, 259 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 598 5
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... There’s no self-pity in the way Benji tells it. His dominant feeling, when his father is on a bender, is embarrassment. He shuts the windows and hopes the neighbours won’t hear: time to put up the barricades. Benji and Reggie have an older sister. ‘I haven’t talked about Elena much because she wasn’t there,’ Benji says, but towards the end of ...

Mortal on Hooch

William Fiennes: Alan Warner, 30 July 1998

The Sopranos 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 336 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05108 3
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... inventions nod to Joyce (the ‘sun-usedness’ of a road’s macadam) and some to Dylan Thomas (‘the mangle of winter-fall before just the owl-black, pine marten world began’). Some have a distinctive character of their own, as when Warner records that ‘a few cassandras of laugh tremelled along the wall.’ Despite the sparkle of such coinage ...

Defoe or the Devil

Pat Rogers, 2 March 1989

The Canonisation of Daniel Defoe 
by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Yale, 210 pp., £20, February 1988, 0 300 04119 5
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The ‘Tatler’: Vols I-III 
edited by Donald Bond.
Oxford, 590 pp., £60, July 1987, 0 19 818614 2
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The ‘Spectator’: Vols I-V 
edited by Donald Bond.
Oxford, 512 pp., £55, October 1987, 9780198186106
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... suggest. We have some sort of fingerprints for writers such as Abel Boyer, George Ridpath and Thomas Burnet; even such a nameless name as Stephen Whatley, too obscure even to make it to the Dunciad, can be plausibly associated with several pamphlets, whilst Arthur Maynwaring is emerging from the shadows as a regular antagonist with the major authors of ...

I want to howl

John Lahr: Eugene O’Neill, 5 February 2015

Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts 
by Robert Dowling.
Yale, 569 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17033 7
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... His attitude to women swung between idealisation and demonisation. He was a wife-beater, and on a bender he was capable of extraordinary mayhem. He fed the manuscript of Agnes Boulton’s novel into the fire, tore up unique family photographs, smashed the cherished Thomas Eakins portrait of her father. Accused at ...

Hoogah-Boogah

James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... sliced-thin sentences leaving a trail of stitches – maximalists like Moody follow the lead of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo by wiring themselves into consumer culture, conspiracy theory, pop iconography and spy-craft technology, trying to chart an underlying pattern in the chaos, a treasure map of paranoia. Purple America, Moody’s major-statement novel ...

Let him be Caesar!

Michael Dobson: The Astor Place Riot, 2 August 2007

The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama and Death in 19th-Century America 
by Nigel Cliff.
Random House, 312 pp., $26.95, April 2007, 978 0 345 48694 3
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... work had been recognised more pragmatically on the frontier itself, where in 1764 the explorer Thomas Morris, venturing into what is now Illinois, discovered to his surprise not only that he was not the first anglophone to have got so far west but that the locals already knew exactly how much the crown jewels of his culture were worth: ‘An Indian ...

In Farageland

James Meek, 9 October 2014

... had described the bisexual Green councillor Ian Driver on Facebook as a ‘shirt-lifting gender bender’. When last year the council’s own standards committee noted the collapse of trust between the people of Thanet and the hung council, and the vindictive, aggressive atmosphere between the parties, the council rejected the report, and all four ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... in Creativity’, sounds stern, but the case histories it describes are those of Kandinsky, Thomas Mann and Giacometti. If those are the angry actors, where’s the harm in joining their gang? As the article explains, ‘whether attempts at channelling aggression are successful or not depends largely on the ability of the ego to tolerate ...

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