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Alex Clark: Pat Barker

24 May 2001
Border Crossing 
by Pat Barker.
Viking, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 670 87841 3
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... they seem about to find him out, to drop his guard and display a discomfiting degree of vulnerability. That faltering charisma, expertly rendered, also serves to repel and attract the reader. Danny Miller, the character at the heart of Border Crossing, is a direct descendant of Billy Prior, down to the inappropriately boyish name. Danny can no longer lay claim to that name, however. As a boy, he was ...

Fatty

Tom​ Shippey

5 May 1988
Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard 
by Russell Miller.
Joseph, 390 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2764 1
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Dianetics 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 605 pp., £3.50, February 1988, 9781870451185
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Mission Earth. Vol. V: Fortune of Fear 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 365 pp., £10.75, July 1987, 1 870451 01 5
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Mission Earth. Vol. VI: Death Quest 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 351 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 1 870451 02 3
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... As its title so obviously shows, the main thesis of Russell Miller’s book is that L. Ron Hubbard, inventor of Dianetics and founder of Scientology, was all his life an incorrigible liar. That being the case, it is a pity that the book starts off with a statement ...

Distant Sheep

Penelope Fitzgerald

21 July 1994
Alice 
by John Bayley.
Duckworth, 192 pp., £14.99, May 1994, 0 7156 2618 3
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... for the sake of his German girlfriend, and contrasted with his hideously successful rival. In Alice the two innocents are uncompromisingly green, in the sense that the Vicar of Wakefield, or Daisy Miller, or Crocodile Dundee, are green, their misfortunes illustrating the world’s vanities. Ginnie, the more important of the two, is round about thirty-five, born therefore in 1960, although it seems to ...

Troll-Descended Bruisers

Tom​ Shippey: ‘Njal’s Saga’

1 July 2015
‘Why Is Your Axe Bloody?’: A Reading of ‘Njal’s Saga’ 
by William Ian Miller.
Oxford, 334 pp., £55, July 2014, 978 0 19 870484 3
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... reputation, and it’s the closely observed micro-politics of this world that make the great ‘family sagas’ like Njal’s Saga and The Laxdalers’ Saga works of unrivalled subtlety. William Ian Miller, who teaches law at the University of Michigan, wrote his study of the two sides of the saga, Bloodtaking and Peacemaking, 25 years ago. Since then he has written several books on awkward aspects of ...
25 June 1987
... bore. Stuff him. We welcome too, From Critical Inquiry, our lone Yank: W.J.T. Mitchell seems at first Unsettlingly cheery. Underneath He’s ninety per cent Theory, One of us. While others idly prate Tom will ‘articulate’, post ’68. Which brings us to the ones We still most love to hate. Also imported from Abroad We have three Pom belles-lettrists Who, to judge from their expressions, Might not ...

Hormone Wars

A. Craig Copetas

23 April 1992
Crazy Cock 
by Henry Miller.
HarperCollins, 202 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 00 223943 4
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The Happiest Man Alive 
by Mary Dearborn.
HarperCollins, 368 pp., £18.50, July 1991, 0 00 215172 3
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... a few bets, and watch the game with us live on Canal+. ‘Football is a most distasteful sport,’ sneered the American expatriate. ‘The game has no place in my life.’ I don’t know if Henry Miller was a football fan, but after reading his long-lost novel Crazy Cock, which was located by Miller scholar Mary Dearborn, together with Dearborn’s biography of the quintessential American writer in ...

Artovsky Millensky

Andrew O’Hagan: The Misfit

1 January 2009
Arthur Miller, 1915-62 
by Christopher Bigsby.
Weidenfeld, 739 pp., £30, November 2008, 978 0 297 85441 8
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... Even as late as the 1950s, at the height of his fame as a playwright, Arthur Miller would periodically leave his nice house to hang around the dockyards. He had worked for two years in the 1930s at a car parts warehouse, where he first encountered anti-semitism and suspicion ...

No Fear of Fanny

Marilyn Butler

20 November 1980
Fanny 
by Erica Jong.
Granada, 496 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 246 11427 4
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The Heroine’s Text 
by Nancy Miller.
Columbia, 185 pp., £10, July 1980, 0 231 04910 2
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... finds himself embarking on some adventure still warm with the life of another book. The beautiful heroine begins her adventures not in obscurity, like Cleland’s Fanny Hill, but, like Fielding’s Tom Jones, as the foundling adoptive child of aristocratic parents in a paradisal country house. Seduced by her foster-father Lord Bellars, Fanny takes, like Tom, to the road, whereupon she falls in with ...

Out of the closet

Tom​ Paulin

29 October 1987
Emily Dickinson 
by Helen McNeil.
Virago, 208 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 0 86068 619 1
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Emily Dickinson: Looking to Canaan 
by John Robinson.
Faber, 191 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13943 4
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Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar 
by Christanne Miller.
Harvard, 212 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 674 25035 4
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Emily Dickinson: The Poet on the Second Story 
by Jerome Loving.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £20, April 1987, 0 521 32781 4
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... masculine values of 19th-century American culture. She searched for role models among famous women writers of her day – George Eliot, the Brontës, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Yet as Christanne Miller points out, Dickinson didn’t actively support the political campaign for women’s rights ‘or, apparently, sympathise with women generally’. It is in the radical new language of the poems ...

Fighting Men

D.A.N. Jones

2 February 1984
Ring of Truth 
by Vernon Scannell.
Robson, 342 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 86051 244 4
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The Tiger and the Rose: An Autobiography 
by Vernon Scannell.
Robson, 197 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 86051 221 5
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Man of War 
by John Masters.
Joseph, 314 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 7181 2360 3
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The Notebook of Gismondo Cavalletti 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 224 02141 9
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The Rape of Shavi 
by Buchi Emecheta.
Ogwugwu Afor, 178 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 9508177 1 6
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Thomas Lyster: A Cambridge Novel 
by David Wurtzel.
Brilliance, 215 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 946189 30 7
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Don’t Swing a Cat 
by Eva Bolgar.
Bachman and Turner, 143 pp., £7.50, November 1983, 0 85974 098 6
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... of his writing (as with Byron and Graves, again). None of the women in Ring of Truth can appreciate boxing: Scannell sets up women characters to argue against the sport. Dave Ruddock’s mate, Tom, persuades him to appear on Radio Leeds, to be interviewed by Tom’s girlfriend. She says reproachful things: ‘You know quite well that the kind of blow you’ve been trained to deliver could kill ...

Short Cuts

Elisabeth Ladenson: Autofriction

20 September 2007
... and Marie Darrieussecq, two authors who until now have shared a publisher (P.O.L.), began exchanging blows last month in the literary pages of all the major papers over Darrieussecq’s latest novel, Tom est mort, a first-person narrative of a mother’s attempt to come to terms with the death of her small child ten years earlier. In 1995 Laurens had published Philippe, an autobiographical work about ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode

24 February 1994
The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... as artist and as editor, and above all his charm. He edited, at various times, Vogue and Tatler, and the Sunday Times Colour Supplement, as well as supplying pocket cartoons for several dailies. Karl Miller, who knew him well both at Cambridge and in London, describes Boxer in his autobiography as ‘both Figaro and the Count’, which may suggest not a blend of patrician wilfulness and backstairs ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Britney’s Biggest Fan

21 June 2001
... be revealed in January, so long as the leadership of the Tory Party doesn’t get in the way. The more hilarious sayings of George W. Bush have been collected in The Bush Dyslexicon by Mark Crispin Miller (Bantam, £6.99): ‘the great thing about America is everyone should vote’; ‘more and more of our imports come from overseas.’ In Humour in the White House: The Wit of Five American Presidents ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Ten Years of the LRB

26 October 1989
... run-up to the Booker Prize award, he asks: ‘Where, in any international literary framework, is the British writer who matters?’ Not one, he suggests, can stand comparison with Marquez, Kundera, Tom Wolfe. What can the editor of the Independent have made of the claim that the writers praised and published in his pages do not matter? Perhaps he felt that it did not matter that D.J. Taylor felt ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan

5 October 2016
Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom​ House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... only difference is: I might actually have a shot. E: What? We don’t have a shot? Ari: No. You wonder why? They’re out to a guy … I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, his name is Tom Cruise. E: Tom Cruise is going to play Pablo Escobar? Come on, the guy’s not even Hispanic. Ari: Yeah, and Hilary Swank has a vagina and she won an Oscar pretending she has a dick. That’s ...

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