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Cuba Down at Heel

Laurence Whitehead

8 June 1995
The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Documents 
Brassey (US), 376 pp., £15.95, March 1994, 9780028810836Show More
The Cuban Revolution: Origin, Course and Legacy 
by Marifeli Pérez-Stable.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.95, April 1994, 0 19 508406 3
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Cuba on the Brink: Castro, the Missile Crisis and the Soviet Collapse 
by James Blight, Bruce Allyn and David Welch.
Pantheon, 509 pp., $27.50, November 1993, 0 679 42149 1
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Castro’s Final Hour: The Secret Story Behind the Coming Downfall of Communist Cuba 
by Andrés Oppenheimer.
Simon and Schuster, 474 pp., $25, July 1992, 0 671 72873 3
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Revolution in the Balance: Law and Society in Contemporary Cuba 
by Debra Evenson.
Westview, 235 pp., £48.50, June 1994, 0 8133 8466 4
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The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality 
by Carollee Bengelsdorf.
Oxford, 238 pp., £32.50, July 1994, 0 19 505826 7
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Back from the Future: Cuba under Castro 
by Susan Eva Eckstein.
Princeton, 286 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 691 03445 1
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Fidel Castro 
by Robert Quirk.
Norton, 898 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 393 03485 2
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Healing the Masses: Cuban Health Politics at Home and Abroad 
by Julie Feinsilver.
California, 307 pp., £35, November 1993, 0 520 08218 4
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Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution 
by Thomas Paterson.
Oxford, 364 pp., £22.50, July 1994, 0 19 508630 9
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... the potential to outlive its charismatic founder and proprietor. The failings of Castroism are indissolubly linked to its strengths, both of which are inherent in the Jefe Máximo’s style of rule. ThomasPaterson’s vivid account of the 1955-8 insurrection properly focuses on the ‘hegemonic presumption’ of US policy-makers, and on Castro’s skill at mobilising anti-yanqui feeling to cement his ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns

25 July 2002
Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... and invective. Shakespeare, who became one of James’s subjects, was not regarded as a bard. In the next century, the idea of the bard became linked to Homeric epic. By 1735 the Aberdeen philosopher Thomas Blackwell was writing that Homer was a ‘stroling indigent Bard’. Robert Burns liked that idea. In ‘Love and Liberty’ a bard sings alongside prostitutes and tinkers, and pronounces himself ...

Crapper

Thomas​ Lynch

21 March 1996
... Death and the sun are not to be looked at in the face. Maxims, La Rochefoucauld Don Paterson and I were crossing the Wolfe Tone Bridge in Galway contemplating Thomas Crapper. This was at early o’clock in the morning on our way back from an awful curry at the only Indian restaurant open in Galway in the wee hours. The night was mild, and our thoughts drifted ...
12 March 1992
HMS Glasshouse 
by Sean O’Brien.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, November 1991, 0 19 282835 5
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The Hogweed Lass 
by Alan Dixon.
Poet and Printer, 33 pp., £3, September 1991, 0 900597 39 9
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Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £18.95, November 1991, 0 85635 923 8
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... was replaced by the socially-conscious, deliberately objective poetry of the Thirties. When that was killed off by the war the vacuum was filled by the extravagant romanticism associated with Dylan Thomas, George Barker and Edith Sitwell. Less than a decade later, with those roses seen as over-blown, Robert Conquest was deploring ‘the omission of the necessary intellectual component from poetry ...

Chicory and Daisies

Stephanie Burt: William Carlos Williams

7 March 2002
Collected Poems: Volume I 
by William Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan.
Carcanet, 579 pp., £12.95, December 2000, 1 85754 522 2
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Collected Poems: Volume II 
by William Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan.
Carcanet, 553 pp., £12.95, December 2000, 1 85754 523 0
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... what he made. Born in 1883, Williams grew up in northern New Jersey, speaking Spanish at home and ‘the American idiom’ everywhere else. His businessman father, of English descent, grew up in St Thomas in the Virgin Islands; his mother, a frustrated painter, came from Puerto Rico. After high school in Switzerland and New York City, Williams took a degree in medicine at the University of ...

Diary

Mark Ford: Love and Theft

2 December 2004
... two earlier masters of satirical comedy, with the further twist that certain passages in the volumes that follow were indeed first spoken by Democritus. In his 1989 book on plagiarism, Stolen Words, Thomas Mallon excoriated the academic special pleading that elevated Sterne and Coleridge from literary shoplifters into masters of bricolage and intertextuality. Their cases are analysed along with that of ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas​ Powers

4 July 2013
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... 2; and so on. Fitzgerald was a notoriously poor speller. In his first entry he referred to Charles Rumsey, a sculptor and polo player who married an heiress to one of the great American fortunes; and Thomas Hitchcock, the most famous polo player in America, just back from a year at Oxford courtesy of the US Army. (Jay Gatsby enjoyed the same.) Rumsey was killed near Great Neck when he was thrown from an ...

Flirting with Dissolution

Mark Ford: August Kleinzahler

5 April 2001
Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems 1975-90 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 82 pp., £8.99, September 2000, 0 571 20428 7
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... cliffs to the river and around the bend of King’s Cove Bluff full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt. Kleinzahler may here seem to assume the all-registering consciousness of the Williams of Paterson, but Williams felt compelled to develop some kind of representative – even epic – meaning out of Paterson’s history, while Kleinzahler is at leisure to savour the rank effluents contaminating ...
16 October 1980
Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... a third drunk auld wife – and then a drunk auld or sick man or twa. The confession got unco monotonous – the Lights and Shadows o’ Scottish Death want relief – though, to be sure, poor Peggy Paterson, that Unfortunate, broke in a little on the uniformity; and sae did Daft Jamie: for whilk last murder, without ony impiety, ane may venture to say, the Devil is at this moment ruggin that Burke out o ...

Masters of Art

John Sutherland

18 December 1980
Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... the overwritten quality that one associates with the Master of Fine Art dissertation novel. Loon Lake shows all four Doctorow facets. The bulk of the narrative takes place in 1936. The hero is Joe of Paterson, also known as Joseph Korzeniowski (the choice of Conrad’s Polish name evidently has some tricksy significance). An 18-year-old hobo victim of the Great Depression, Joe first takes up work in a ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban

23 July 1987
Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... everyone darkly hints at, is that in 1972 the ‘Poundian revolution’ still looked as if it was carrying the world before it. Trailing in the long wake of The Waste Land, the Cantos, Williams’s Paterson and Bunting’s Briggflatts were Louis Zukofsky’s A, Charles Olson’s Maximus, Allen Ginsbert’s Howl, the substitution of ‘breath’ for metre and gossip for metaphor. Adrian Henri and Roger ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan

2 April 1987
The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... casts doubt on her title not just because it was published as long ago as 1915 but because it puts a tap-root deep into Romanticism. Including a dozen Stevens texts pre-dating the Pisan Cantos and Paterson, while excluding Pound and Williams, the book seems more atavistic than Contemporary, and slanted into bias. Nothing in the objectivist or projective line is included. Olson is rejected, along with ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter

6 October 2011
The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... grower of red roses, was to sow radishes among them. The first poem in The Rest on the Flight, a chronologically arranged selection of Porter’s poems deftly edited by Sean O’Brien and Don Paterson, deals with his Scottish Australian ancestry, and with despair-haunted, hard-drinking, church-building men who have ‘no life but the marking-time of work’. Probably with Porter’s father’s ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne

1 June 2016
Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... result, interestingly and perversely, was to establish Prynne as the most significant alternative to Larkin, and thus to any mainstream English poet of the past few decades. (It’s notable that Don Paterson, for example, spends a significant amount of energy positioning his own practice in relation to Prynne’s.) Acceptance, however unlikely it once seemed, has therefore arrived. (I’d like to think ...

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