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Strong Meat

John Lanchester, 11 January 1990

The Bellarosa Connection 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 102 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 436 19988 2
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The War Zone 
by Alexander Stuart.
Hamish Hamilton, 207 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 241 12342 9
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A Touch of Love 
by Jonathan Coe.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2277 3
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Do it again 
by Martyn Harris.
Viking, 220 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82858 0
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... who was saved from a Fascist prison and smuggled to America by Mafia types acting at the behest of Billy Rose, the famous Jewish showbiz figure (‘Damon Runyon’s pal’) whom he had never met. This is Harry: Fonstein’s type was edel – well-bred – but he also was a tough Jew. Sometimes his look was that of a man holding the lead in the 100-metre ...

Sisters

John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... amiable mother and abused by a drunken stockbroker stepfather, Jock (Ms Bargate likes a meaningful name). Grown up, she is seduced and bullied into a septic abortion by her timid, clap-ridden fiancé Tim. He changes his mind, but too late: Sadie is sterile. Tim, now a selfish husband, knows this, but lets the ignorant heroine attend the infertility clinic for ...

Hit the circuit

Theo Tait: Michael Ondaatje, 20 July 2000

Anil's Ghost 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 9780747548652
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... at the Government: ‘Who was he? This representative of all those lost voices. To give him a name would name the rest.’ The method is familiar from Ondaatje’s earlier work. Though the story of Anil and Sailor could be the basis for a detective story or political thriller, he’s more interested in epiphanies, in ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means, 11 August 2016

Hystopia 
by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... and the captive witness to many of Rake’s many murders, is a girl called Meg Allen. (As her last name suggests, Meg also appears in Hystopia’s frame story, as the wayward sister of Eugene.) Meg is a freckled teenager, not a combat veteran, but the mental breakdown she suffered after her boyfriend, Billy-T, died in ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... film – apart from Jack Nicholson’s masterly cameo – is how unpleasant the Hopper character, Billy (think Billy the Kid), is from start to finish. His plain nastiness in almost all situations, including those that warrant none, is actually a bit of a relief played against Fonda’s beatific and self-righteous Wyatt ...

Heat in a Mild Climate

James Wood: Baron Britain of Aldeburgh, 19 December 2013

Benjamin Britten: A Life in the 20th Century 
by Paul Kildea.
Allen Lane, 635 pp., £30, January 2013, 978 1 84614 232 1
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Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music 
by Neil Powell.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 0 09 193123 0
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... up with the music of Benjamin Britten, it was sometimes hard to recall that his last name was not ‘Britain’. The race that Nietzsche had deemed heavy-hoofed and unmusical, whose last truly great composer had been Purcell, a nation that had been doing nothing very much, musically, but warbling in cathedrals for a couple of centuries, had ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice, 11 October 2018

... of America. From the solemn, marmoreal repose of statues to the Newark motel bearing Lincoln’s name and image, Tice’s camera pans across the culture, sometimes inflected through the lens of a sociologist, sometimes an anthropologist or student of urban design, sometimes a homespun surrealist. But the place with which he is most familiar and understands ...

The Jains and the Boxer

Douglas Oliver, 31 August 1989

... may be scarcely bearable: the filth (mala) on the acarya Hemacandra brought his sect the honorary name of Maladharin. We find such things in the Cheyasutta Mahanisiha, whose Salluddharana explains contrition and confession; and whose Kammavivagavivarana 2 The boxer imposes 100 per cent will punching harm into harm in sadistic rhythms. He’s called Alan Boum ...

The Taste of Peapods

Matthew Reynolds: E.L. Doctorow, 11 February 2010

Homer and Langley 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Little, Brown, 224 pp., £11.99, January 2010, 978 1 4087 0215 4
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... they create a network of defining possibilities along which characters can advance. Of course (in Billy Bathgate) a bright-eyed boy juggling on street corners in the Bronx in the 1930s is going to be noticed by the passing gangster boss Dutch Schultz and get drawn into his orbit; of course (in The Book of Daniel) the son of a Communist couple sent to the ...

Short Cuts

Colin Smith: Carlos the Jackal, 26 January 2012

... the legends of America’s Old West enjoyed with the dime novelists who turned William Bonney into Billy the Kid. In fact he has already been the subject of almost as many films as Billy the Kid and inspired nearly as many books. Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy have both written novels about him; my biography of him appeared in ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... lose.’ Chisum, in which John Wayne played a godlike rancher, was Hollywood’s first serious Billy the Kid movie since Arthur Penn’s 1956 adaptation of Gore Vidal’s Left-Handed Gun. Although much concerned with issues of law and order, it is not quite an establishment Western. In it, Billy is (initially) among the ...
... were when I was young, Forty years ago – i.e. a full Fifth of the time Port Jackson’s had that name. And after I’d grown up and gone away Like the wool-clip to the other end of the world (Where the wool was turned to suit-cloth and sent back So Thomas Mort, full of ideas as Dickens, Might look the part of the philanthropist) The anchor of the Sirius had ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bo yakasha., 4 January 2001

... ring a colourful bell for many people who until now did not realise that their experience had a name, and who will now be able to identify themselves with like-minded others. Dr Baron-Cohen is a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, the University Lecturer in Psychopathology, the recipient of both the British Psychological Society’s Spearman Medal and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: TV Lit, 15 November 2001

... the wife of the President of Nigeria. The royal family get to be themselves, though, and so does Billy Connolly, alone among broadcasting talent (unless you count Alistair Cooke and Clive James, who provide epigraphs). This may be because Lawson overlooked Connolly when it came to changing the names, or it may be because he forgot Connolly isn’t a member ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Moonlight’, 16 February 2017

Moonlight 
directed by Barry Jenkins.
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... it is so obvious what the characters are thinking that they might as well be shouting. As in the Billy Joel song they are sharing a drink they call loneliness but it’s better than drinking alone. The first person we see in the film talks a bit but we learn far more from what we see of him and around him. He’s a drug dealer checking in with one of his ...

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