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Bring me my Philips Mental Jacket

Slavoj Žižek: Improve Your Performance!, 22 May 2003

... depends on the ‘levels of various chemicals in our brains’. We are not being told, to quote Tom Wolfe, ‘Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died’: we are in effect being told that we never had a soul in the first place. If the claims of biogenetics hold, then the choice is between clinging to the illusion of dignity and accepting the reality of what we ...

Slumming with Rappers at the Roxy

Hal Foster: Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture by John Seabrook, 21 September 2000

Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture 
by John Seabrook.
Methuen, 215 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 0 413 74470 1
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... by David Brooks, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and blurbed by the usual suspects from Tom Wolfe to Christopher Buckley, it is entitled Bobos in Paradise – Bobos for ‘bourgeois bohemians’.* Its argument, which confuses cappuccino with bohemia and a pension-plan invested in money-markets with a political sell-out, is as follows: Marx ...

Who’s sorry now?

Andrew O’Hagan: Michael Finkel gets lucky, 2 June 2005

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa 
by Michael Finkel.
Chatto, 312 pp., £15.99, May 2005, 0 7011 7688 1
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Burning Down My Master’s House 
by Jayson Blair.
New Millennium, 288 pp., $24.95, March 2004, 9781932407266
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The Journalist and the Murderer 
by Janet Malcolm.
Granta, 163 pp., £8.99, January 2004, 1 86207 637 5
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... relationship’ (chosen to give evidence, along with William F. Buckley, from a list that included Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin and Victor Navasky), said that a writer was always wholly justified in being untrue in his relationship with a subject. Here is how the exchange went in court: Q: Is there a custom or practice in the literary world about whether or ...

Everything Must Go!

Andrew O’Hagan: American Beauties, 13 December 2001

The Corrections 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 568 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 1 84115 672 8
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Ghost World 
directed by Terry Zwigoff.
August 2001
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directed by Todd Solondz.
November 2001
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... after 11 September it was the unimaginable v. the imagination. Now, again (the last time it was Tom Wolfe decrying his fellow American novelists for not reporting), it is the social v. the aesthetic, as if the aesthetic was something stable and unchanged by society, as if, indeed, the aesthetic were not constantly refracted and transformed by the ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... scored for speech: hysterical italics, the incontinent stutter of periods (...) that derive from Tom Wolfe, not from Céline. The apologetic language droppings (‘pardonnez-moi’) and compulsive Americanisms (‘rimshot time in Vegas’). The temptation with this fast-food prose (‘People don’t drop their haitches, they drops Es’) is to become a ...

The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

Daniel Soar, 30 March 2017

... to break the sound barrier, in the experimental rocket-powered X-1. (As indelibly recorded by Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff, Yeager was a pilot of the old school, who trusted his instincts: he scoffed at the engineers who were concerned that at speeds greater than Mach 1 the plane might stop working aerodynamically altogether and fall out of the ...

Madder Men

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton on Richard Hamilton, 24 October 2019

Richard Hamilton: Introspective 
by Phillip Spectre.
König, 408 pp., £49, September 2019, 978 3 88375 695 0
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... kind of Pop prose, which, even as it resembled the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe and others, also recalled the rambunctious mix-and-match of images and ideas in the IG, with a lingo that is excessively mimetic of a brash consumerscape of bright but broken surfaces. In this light Hamilton and Banham were madder men than any ...

The Most Beautiful Icicle

Inigo Thomas: Apollo 11, 15 August 2019

Reaching for the Moon: A Short History of the Space Race 
by Roger D. Launius.
Yale, 256 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 0 300 23046 8
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The Moon: A History for the Future 
by Oliver Morton.
Economist Books, 334 pp., £20, May 2019, 978 1 78816 254 8
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... was nothing his former wife felt she could do to help. As a pilot Armstrong had those attributes Tom Wolfe made famous in his book about the air force test pilots who went on to become the Nasa astronauts. They had ‘the right stuff’: they would always do the most dangerous thing on offer. A day after a failed air force test launch of an Atlas rocket ...

Daisy packs her bags

Zachary Leader: The Road to West Egg, 21 September 2000

Trimalchio: An Early Version of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by James L.W. West III.
Cambridge, 192 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 521 40237 9
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... hundred other ways it is more so – more explicit, direct, propositional. In Chapter 6 of Gatsby Tom Buchanan and two friends ride up to Gatsby’s house on horseback, are served drinks, then rudely abandon him before he can join them for dinner: ‘they trotted quickly down the drive, disappearing under the August foliage just as Gatsby, with hat and light ...
Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... it For this that all the blood was shed, For this Edward Fitzgerald died, And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, All that delirium of the brave? ‘Delirium’ suggests Yeats’s usual equivocal insight; but more magnificently it celebrates the fever in the blood which was about to quicken the national pulses yet again. ‘Romantic Ireland’ was not ‘dead ...

What the Twist Did for the Peppermint Lounge

Dave Haslam: Club culture, 6 January 2000

Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture 
by Sheryl Garratt.
Headline, 335 pp., £7.99, May 1999, 0 7472 7680 3
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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey 
by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.
Headline, 408 pp., £14.99, November 1999, 0 7472 7573 4
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Saturday Night For Ever: The Story of Disco 
by Alan Jones and Jussi Kantonen.
Mainstream, 223 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 9781840181777
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DJ Culture 
by Ulf Poschardt.
Quartet, 473 pp., £13, January 1999, 0 7043 8098 6
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Energy Flash: A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture 
by Simon Reynolds.
Picador, 493 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 0 330 35056 0
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More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction 
by Kodwo Eshun.
Quartet, 208 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 7043 8025 0
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... labels began commissioning long disco mixes not from the artists themselves but from DJs like Tom Moulton and Walter Gibbons. Many of the successful DJ remixes in this era were relentlessly percussive, often incorporating salsa or African rhythms. Ironically, the longer mixes were rarely played in full: DJs using two copies of the record would just repeat ...

Ten Thousand Mile Mistake

Thomas Powers: Robert Stone in Saigon, 18 February 2021

Child of Light: A Biography of Robert Stone 
by Madison Smartt Bell.
Doubleday, 588 pp., £27, March 2020, 978 0 385 54160 2
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The Eye You See With: Selected Non-Fiction 
by Robert Stone, edited by Madison Smartt Bell.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 320 pp., £20.99, April 2020, 978 0 618 38624 6
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‘Dog Soldiers’, A Flag for Sunrise’, Outerbridge Reach’ 
by Robert Stone, edited by Madison Smartt Bell.
Library of America, 1216 pp., £35, March 2020, 978 1 59853 654 6
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... Pranksters was one of the signature moments of the decade, along with Altamont and Woodstock. Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test conferred lifetime notoriety on the pranksters who made the trip.Stone was not one of them. He had already moved back to New York to finish and publish A Hall of Mirrors, which appeared on his thirtieth ...


Charles Townshend, 19 April 1984

Theobald Wolfe Tone: Colonial Outsider 
by Tom Dunne.
Tower Books, 77 pp., $1.90, December 1982, 0 902568 07 8
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Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France 
by Marianne Elliott.
Yale, 411 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 03 000270 2
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De Valera and the Ulster Question 1917-1973 
by John Bowman.
Oxford, 369 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 0 19 822681 0
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Sean Lemass and the Making of Modern Ireland 
by Paul Bew and Henry Patterson.
Gill, 224 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7171 1260 8
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... of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter’ it was – as Tom Dunne argues forcefully in his valuable new study of the ideas of their most famous publicist, Wolfe Tone – because only such a ‘cordial union’ could form an effective counterpoise to ‘the weight of English ...

Brideshead and the Tower Blocks

Patrick Wright, 2 June 1988

Home: A Short History of an Idea 
by Witold Rybczynski.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 434 14292 1
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... has also become one of Britain’s most successful cultural exports. It is appropriate that Tom Wolfe, that connoisseur of the cliché, should have registered its arrival in New York. His latest compendium. The Bonfire of the Vanities, includes a hypocritical left-wing English journalist (modelled, it would appear, on Alexander Cockburn) who ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote, 2 April 1998

Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... least truthful book. But it is a very good one, and it may be the high point of the thing Tom Wolfe called the New Journalism. Capote did not invent it. There were already a fair number of good writers, sound listeners, who were into that sort of concentrated, high-style reportage. Anyhow, the best claim of responsibility for its American ...

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