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On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... are the primitive narrative skills which he shares with male action writers like Alistair Maclean, Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler. To read Watkins describe a fight is to recover pleasures most male readers left behind with the Wizard and Hotspur. He grabbed my hair and pulled me to him. He had hold of my throat and made me drop the gun. I cried out and ...


Tariq Ali: Richard Sorge’s Fate, 21 November 2019

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent 
by Owen Matthews.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 4088 5778 6
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... called him the ‘most formidable spy in history’; other admirers included John le Carré, Tom Clancy and General MacArthur. Owen Matthews – whose new biography of Sorge is the fifth to appear in English – is well qualified to write this book: his Ukrainian maternal grandfather was Boris Bibikov, a factory worker in Kharkov who became head of ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... Ryan, the tough, smart, patriotic family man played by Harrison Ford in the movies based on the Tom Clancy novels, and the archangel Michael.There’s​ a danger that in writing about QAnon – a social phenomenon not just in the US but in Britain, Germany and many other countries, and endorsed by a number of Republican candidates – you make it ...

The World according to Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld

Michael Byers: American isolationism, 21 February 2002

... superiority is a central theme of the one author we can be sure the President has read. In Tom Clancy’s most recent novel, The Bear and the Dragon, technology enables the US to follow the inner deliberations of the Chinese Government, rout the Chinese Army and ward off an intercontinental ballistic missile attack. Most of the Bush ...

Planes, Trains and SUVs

Jonathan Raban: James Meek, 7 February 2008

We Are Now Beginning Our Descent 
by James Meek.
Canongate, 295 pp., £16.99, February 2008, 978 1 84195 988 7
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... pages of his new novel, We Are Now Beginning Our Descent, consist of the opening pages of a Tom Clancyish thriller called Rogue Eagle Rising, which is being scribbled out at speed in a notebook in the town of Jabal os Saraj in Afghanistan, a couple of weeks before the fall of Taliban-held Kabul in November 2001. The reporter is Adam Kellas, a Scot in ...

In Gratitude

Jenny Diski, 7 May 2015

... in the dead centre of some new version of the rake’s progress. In Tony Richardson’s movie Tom Jones, which came out in 1963, there were waifs galore, dependent on and resenting the goodwill of strangers. But what could I be resentful about? Being resentful was the wickedest thing I could imagine, though it sometimes felt like a get-out clause for my ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... store, and the sadness of that, because this is the space that changed all our lives. His father, Tom Funge, like my uncle and grandfather, had been involved in the struggle for Irish independence, so when Paul founded his Art Centre in Gorey in 1970 or 1971, it was easy for me, aged 15 or 16, to get permission to hitchhike the twenty miles to see it. I ...

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