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Ageing White Guy Takes Stock of His Life …

J. Robert Lennon: Dave Eggers, 24 January 2013

A Hologram for the King 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £18.99, February 2013, 978 0 241 14585 2
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... will be bothered by Eggers’s need to portray Zeitoun as unrelentingly virtuous, especially in light of recent developments: Zeitoun was charged last year with repeatedly assaulting – and soliciting the murder of – his wife. Eggers’s detractors, of course, have made hay of Zeitoun’s fall from grace: according to this version, the author’s need to ...

Diary

Alan Milward: On Anti-Semitism, 17 October 1985

... the dark abysses of human behaviour in the 1930s. To write as he does without rancour and with a light but biting wit, neatly captured in a good translation, is an intellectual victory in itself. But it is the comprehensive nature of the undertaking, its determination to synthesise all previous work on this complicated subject while also reinterpreting it in ...

Bored Hero

Alan Bell, 22 January 1981

Raymond Asquith: Life and Letters 
by John Jolliffe.
Collins, 311 pp., £10.95, July 1980, 9780002167147
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... widow’s death. She outlived him by 60 years, and at last this memorial compilation can see the light of day, the letters including a few of Asquith’s verses, such as the fine parody of Kipling’s ‘Soldiers of the Queen’: The sun like a Bishop’s bottom        Rosy and round and hot Looked down upon us who shot ’em        And down ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... At Birmingham I have a session with David Edgar’s playwrights’ class, then do another ‘Our Alan’ performance for a more general audience. 26 January. Run into Tristram Powell. Andrew Devonshire (sic) has done a diary for the Spectator mentioning the memoir of Julian Jebb (edited by Tristram) as one of the books he was putting in the guest bedrooms at ...

Backlash Blues

John Lahr, 16 June 2016

What Happened, Miss Simone? A Biography 
by Alan Light.
Canongate, 309 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78211 871 8
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... was crowded. Couldn’t get in,’ her brother Carrol Waymon recalled of her initial wallop, in Alan Light’s gossipy What Happened, Miss Simone?, ‘inspired’ by Liz Garbus’s 2015 documentary of the same name. The gravity and grace of her performance – her moody interpolation of lyrics played against a filigree of dissonant chord clusters ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... me.‘Aren’t you famous?’‘Well I can’t be, can I, if you don’t know my name.’‘It’s Alan something.’‘Yes.’‘From Scarborough?’‘No.’‘So which Alan are you?’‘I’m another Alan.’‘Are you just a lookalike?’‘Well, you could say so.’He pats my arm ...

Travelling Hero

G.R. Wilson Knight, 19 February 1981

Coriolanus in Europe 
by David Daniell.
Athlone, 168 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 485 11192 6
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... responded mainly to its single-minded concentration on the personality of the hero as revealed by Alan Howard’s performance. This dominated the production and whatever our personal opinions might have been, it was clearly a grand achievement. It had an immediate appeal, and that is a final, or almost final, dramatic test. I have not myself seen it, but the ...

Lager and Pernod

Frank Kermode: Alan Warner, 22 August 2002

The Man Who Walks 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 280 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 224 06294 8
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... admission may sometimes be unavoidable. This is my sentiment as I contemplate the four novels of Alan Warner. He has been highly praised (‘dazzling’, ‘classic’, ‘significant’, ‘vastly gifted’, ‘a genius’, ‘one of the most influential literary mould-breakers ever’), and I’m sure none of these eulogies, understandably preserved on the ...

Astral Projection

Alison Light: The Case of the Croydon Poltergeist, 17 December 2020

The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story 
by Kate Summerscale.
Bloomsbury, 345 pp., £18.99, October, 978 1 4088 9545 0
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... bed, she told the journalist, there were strange happenings. A tumbler spontaneously shattered, a light bulb from the bedside lamp migrated, still hot and intact, to the other side of the room; a pot of face cream, flying through the air, narrowly missed Don, their son, who was coming to their aid, and their lodger, George, was hit by coins (a shilling and a ...

Someone Else

Peter Campbell, 17 April 1986

In the American West 
by Richard Avedon.
Thames and Hudson, 172 pp., £40, October 1985, 0 500 54110 8
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Photoportraits 
by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Thames and Hudson, 283 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 500 54109 4
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... The first picture in Richard Avedon’s folio is captioned ‘Alan Silvey, drifter, Route 93, Chloride, Nevada’. Such photographs were taken in the Dustbowl fifty years ago. But this is art, not documentation. We have learned a lot about photography since the Thirties, and now no one believes that truth is simple – ‘all photographs are accurate ...

Diary

Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark, 5 August 1993

... accomplished? No junior minister more aptly represented that mood than the patrician Thatcherite Alan Clark. A big landowner, a poor QC and a minor historian, the jolly Clark decided to write a diary while in office. From 1983 to 1991, during which time he occupied three offices – Under Secretary at the Department of Employment, and Minister of State at ...
Nixon: A Study in Extremes of Fortune 
by Lord Longford.
Weidenfeld, 205 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77708 4
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... we not perhaps to question, since Longford wishes us to view Nixon’s subsequent career in this light, whether the will to fight should be judged against the purpose in fighting? Would you vote for Billy the Kid? A little later in the book: all [Nixon] could say was, ‘Mother, don’t give up.’ She pulled herself up in bed and said with sudden ...

Instead of a Present

Alan Bennett, 15 April 1982

... of themselves they have volunteered to their readers, and one can never address them in the light of it without turning into a lady in a hat. Whether as Larkin, Philip Larkin or plain Philip, his name is bound to turn up on every page of this book. Names strike more than they stroke, and I would like to think of him wincing as he reads, staggering under ...

Astrid, Clio and Julia

Alan Bell, 17 July 1980

The Wanton Chase 
by Peter Quennell.
Collins, 192 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 00 216526 0
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... in the constant literary references which view Noël Coward, Ivor Novello and Robert Newton in the light of Garrick’s theatrical world, or his pungent romance with Miss Julia set against Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris. It is not just a world of politesse and enlightenment that is referred to. Boswell (who provides the best of Mr Quennell’s Four Portraits) is ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1989, 11 January 1990

... all the time saying the responses without faltering. The first hymn is Newman’s ‘Lead Kindly Light’, which I try and sing, while making no attempt at the second hymn, which is ‘Kum Ba Ya’. The priest turns out to have a good strong voice, though its tone is more suited to ‘Kum Ba Ya’ than Newman and J.B.Dykes. The service itself is wet and ...

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