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Writing and Publishing

Alan Sillitoe, 1 April 1982

... Most of my first literary influences – if they can be called such – came from the cinema. I remember some time during the early Forties seeing a film, one of those ‘B’ pictures from Hollywood, which had for its subject the life of the great British prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The scene that comes back is during a debate in the House of Commons on some great issue, when Disraeli sat with eyes closed, seemingly asleep, while the Leader of the Opposition, probably Mr Gladstone, went through his speech ...

Karel Reisz Remembered

LRB Contributors, 12 December 2002

... theme. No one matters more to British cinema than Karel Reisz, and no one does it more honour. Alan Sillitoe (writer): He helped me so much with the script of my novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. He showed me the documentaries he’d made, and at last I felt I was on the main line. He was in Nottingham making a documentary for the Central ...

Live Entertainment

D.J. Enright, 6 December 1979

The Storyteller 
by Alan Sillitoe.
W.H. Allen, 285 pp., £5.95
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... are sophisticated people. All the same, they may have trouble in explaining their way through Alan Sillitoe’s latest novel – if not because they find it mystifying, then because they find it (as it is) more complex than fiction is generally expected to be these days. It asks for the kind of academic explication which its hero would reject ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... number of familiar names on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good ...

South Yorkshire Republic

Beatrix Campbell, 4 June 1987

Forever England 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth/BBC, 174 pp., £9.95, April 1987, 0 563 20466 4
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Nottinghamshire 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 170 pp., £14.95, March 1987, 0 246 12852 6
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Left behind: Journeys into British Politics 
by David Selbourne.
Cape, 174 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 224 02370 5
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... of class – Beryl Bainbridge’s benign Forever England follows up her television series. Alan Sillitoe has written a coffee-table book, Nottinghamshire, with photographs by David Sillitoe. And David Selbourne has put his New Society pieces together in Left Behind: Journeys into British ...

Diary

Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... survey of post-war fiction. In the late Fifties and after, Kingsley Amis, Johns Wain and Braine, Alan Sillitoe and Co struck a new, demotic note. The ‘traditional’ English novel of good and bad manners was radicalised and updated. Karl Miller helped to institute a new criticism which seemed to owe more to a modest, clean, unadorned English than to ...

True Stories

Michael Irwin, 30 March 1989

Have the men had enough? 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 251 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 7011 3400 3
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Aurora’s Motive 
by Erich Hackl, translated by Edna McCown.
Cape, 117 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 224 02584 8
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The Open Door 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 358 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 246 13422 4
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... those who don’t already know, these biographical details all apply to the author of the novel, Alan Sillitoe. This is to be a candidly, if not straightforwardly autobiographical work. It is also the concluding volume in the series that began with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Arthur Seaton, the leading figure in that novel, has here only a ...

Mystery and Imagination

Stephen Bann, 17 November 1983

The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge Luis Borges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... for whom even Lucifer and all his angels must be made to perform on cue. What makes the novels of Alan Sillitoe infinitely superior to this kind of journeyman’s work, is the abiding sense that the strong narrative line, though traditionally conceived and carried through, is at the same time a vehicle for allegory or, if that is too strong a ...

Deep down

Julian Symons, 28 June 1990

The Last World 
by Christoph Ransmayr, translated by John Woods.
Chatto, 202 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3502 6
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The End of Lieutenant Boruvka 
by Josef Skvorecky, translated by Paul Wilson.
Faber, 188 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14973 1
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The Dwarves of Death 
by Jonathan Coe.
Fourth Estate, 198 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 872180 51 5
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Last Loves 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 190 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 333 51783 0
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... his wife, Bernard an ‘international bookdealer, salesman manager of the publishing world’, as Sillitoe not very intelligibly puts it. Jenny is his second wife, and he is always on the look-out for what he would call a nice little piece. All sorts of ironic possibilities seem open, but what happens is that both Bernard and George revert to their youthful ...

Manliness

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1984

Last Ferry to Manly 
by Jill Neville.
Penguin, 165 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 14 007068 0
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Down from the Hill 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 218 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 246 12517 9
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God Knows 
by Joseph Heller.
Cape, 353 pp., £8.95, November 1984, 0 224 02288 1
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Wilt on High 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 236 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780436458118
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... worried about a medical report which may prove him to be tubercular. The dust-cover biography of Alan Sillitoe suggests that the story may be partly autobiographical. The second section, a quarter of the length, gives us Paul Morton (in the third person, no longer narrating) in a boring motor car, following the same route, trying unsuccessfully to ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie, 7 March 1985

The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... covered by this selection of his letters. (The earlier ones came out as In Broken Images in 1982.) Alan Bold’s index to the MacDiarmid volume has no entry for Graves, any more than Paul O’Prey’s has for MacDiarmid. The two poets, though contemporaries, might have been inhabiting different planets. And yet the impression one gets from the two books is not ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... by some recent critics – is answered almost too neatly by the first two novels under review. Alan Sillitoe’s Life goes on is a rampant adventure-tale of a male rogue, or rogue male, on the loose between two marriages. Mary Gordon’s Men and Angels shows a happily-married heroine struggling tenaciously, in her husband’s absence, to ...

Snarling

Frank Kermode: Angry Young Men, 28 November 2002

The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 7139 9532 7
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... one another at Oxford, but had little to do with autodidacts like Colin Wilson, John Osborne and Alan Sillitoe – this last name less often mentioned in this context than might have been expected, doubtless because Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) was published a little too late to be fitted into the fashionable grouping. Since the constituents ...

Mixed Blood

D.A.N. Jones, 2 December 1982

Her Victory 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 590 pp., £8.95, September 1982, 0 246 11872 5
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This Earth of Mankind 
by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by Max Lane.
Penguin, 338 pp., £2.50, August 1982, 9780140063349
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... surprising to see the resemblances between Her Victory and This Earth of Mankind. Alan Sillitoe’s new novel is about 50-year-old Britons feeling rootless. Pramoedya Ananta Toer is concerned with young people of the Dutch East Indies in the 1890s, almost choked with different roots – religions, races, cultures, classes – all ...

Booze and Fags

Christopher Hitchens, 12 March 1992

Tobacco: A History 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Radius, 249 pp., £18.99, December 1991, 0 09 174216 1
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The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 554 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 571 16229 0
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... a belching roar over a middle-aged man sitting with a woman on one of the green leather seats. Alan Sillitoe. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning ‘Belching roar’ is, I think, bloody good (you notice that Sillitoe is writing so plastered that it reads as if it’s the poor old temptation that fell down the ...

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