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John Brown, 18 November 1982

Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... acknowledges, on research done for other projected and equally unauthorised lives of Hammett by David Fechheimer and William Godschalk, and upon material gathered by William Nolan, editor of Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook. In other words, Shadow Man emerges from a background of intrigue: prolonged scuffling in the literary undergrowth and a growing sense of ...


Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... is a monument to white supremacy. The book and film offer different variations on the theme: the David O. Selznick production replaced Mitchell’s celebration of the Ku-Klux-Klan with a visually unforgettable paean to ‘the cavalier society’ of antebellum Atlanta, with its ‘knights and ladies, masters and slaves’. Atlanta was actually a frontier ...

White Lies

James Campbell: Nella Larsen, 5 October 2006

In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Colour Line 
by George Hutchinson.
Harvard, 611 pp., £25.95, June 2006, 0 674 02180 0
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... Henry Louis Gates. In the early 1950s, Broyard had threatened to sue the publishers of a novel by Chandler Brossard, Who Walk in Darkness, which contained a character evidently based on him. It began: ‘People said Henry Porter was a Negro.’ In the version that was finally published, this was altered to read ‘was an illegitimate’ – making nonsense of ...

Wordsworth’s Crisis

E.P. Thompson, 8 December 1988

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 306 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 19 812868 1
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... intellectual, and he passes by without comment significant work in intellectual history. James Chandler’s Wordsworth’s Second Nature (1984) goes unmentioned, and Chandler’s and Roe’s Wordsworths might be two different people. Were I forced to choose between them I would opt for Roe’s. I remain unconvinced by ...

Good Day, Comrade Shtrum

John Lanchester: Vasily Grossman’s Masterpiece, 18 October 2007

Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Vintage, 864 pp., £9.99, October 2006, 0 09 950616 5
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... the Soviet state and the death camps of the Nazis: the latter journey, accompanying a young boy, David, and the woman who looks after him on the journey, Sofya Levinton, I found that I could not reread. The horror is all the more real because we have actually witnessed the gas chambers being built, and an inspection visit by Eichmann. A small surprise had ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... novel’. The smoky romanticism of the quest story, brought to literary respectability by Raymond Chandler, has collapsed into self-parody and a decadent excess of style. A cinema of ghosts represented by the cruel distance between The Big Sleep as realised by Howard Hawks in 1946, from a script by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, and the ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... tough keeping track of all the debutantes promenading into print and creating a stir: Donna Tartt, David Leavitt, Mary Gaitskill, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Nancy Lemann, Susan Minot, Mary Robison, Anderson Ferrell – a cast of dozens. Many of those rookies trained at the literary dojo of the author, editor, creative writing teacher and guru-mentor-mindgamer ...

One Big Murder Mystery

Adam Shatz: The Algerian army’s leading novelist, 7 October 2004

The Swallows of Kabul 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by John Cullen.
Heinemann, 195 pp., £10.99, May 2004, 9780434011414
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Wolf Dreams 
by Yasmina Khadra, translated by Linda Black.
Toby, 272 pp., $19.95, May 2003, 1 902881 75 3
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by Yasmina Khadra, translated by David Herman.
Toby, 137 pp., £7.95, May 2004, 1 59264 035 4
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... violent, the writing here is far more reminiscent of Simenon – or, better yet, of Chandler and James M. Cain, the American noir novelists Camus so admired. Set in Algeria at the height of the civil war, at a time when reporters were often banned from entering the country, the Llob novels illuminate the darkest, most treacherous corners of ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... with them (he approached Hemingway, Hammett and Nabokov, and employed Thornton Wilder, Steinbeck, Chandler, Brian Moore and Anthony Shaffer). Spoto has found many ready to testify to Hitchcock’s inadequacy without them (like Brian Moore of Torn Curtain: ‘I found that he had absolutely no concept of character’); and to his inadequacy in dealings with ...


Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... the time that but for his speaking he was in appearance like a cross between a fiend and a tallow chandler. Rossetti, whose friendship is the one most rewardingly described, is also best shown at his worst, or most exasperating. He stayed with the Browns while he was working on Found: This morning, Gabriel not yet having done his cart & talking quite freely ...

Keeping out and coming close

Michael Church, 3 October 1985

Here lies: An Autobiography 
by Eric Ambler.
Weidenfeld, 234 pp., £10.95, June 1985, 0 297 78588 5
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The Levanter 
by Eric Ambler.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 297 99521 9
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Doctor Frigo 
by Eric Ambler.
Weidenfeld, 250 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 297 76848 4
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The Other Side of the Moon: The Life of David Niven 
by Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 300 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780297787082
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Secrets: Boyhood in a Jewish Hotel 1932-1954 
by Ronald Hayman.
Peter Owen, 224 pp., £12, July 1985, 9780720606423
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A Woman in Custody 
by Audrey Peckham.
Fontana, 253 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 00 636952 9
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No Gangster More Bold 
by John Morgan.
Hodder, 179 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 26387 3
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... it partly because he could not bear to read other people’s thrillers and because, like Raymond Chandler, he recognised the potential in this branch of popular fiction. ‘He has knowledge; and he has speed,’ said the Observer of that book. ‘Melodrama ... trivialising effects ... cheating,’ he says contemptuously now. Ambler’s autobiography has many ...

Everyone Loves Her

Will Frears: Stieg Larsson, 16 December 2010

Stieg Larsson, My Friend 
by Kurdo Baksi.
MacLehose Press, 143 pp., £14.99, 0 85705 021 4
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... Craig has been signed up for the American remake of the first film, which will be directed by David Fincher. The quest to find Lisbeth Salander took on Scarlett O’Hara proportions; the role has been filled with attendant fanfare by Rooney Mara, who was introduced to the world in Fincher’s last movie, The Social Network. (It will be interesting to see ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... the navy and Marine Corps. He was funny too. My wife, Heather, and I were there when his daughter, Chandler, was born in San Diego. I remember as we all anxiously waited to know his or her arrival, John came out with a sheepish grin and said: “Well, she’s a Republican!”’ John Spahr and his wife, Diane, worked hard at their marriage, but in the ...

An Infinity of Novels

Philip Horne, 14 September 1989

A Short Guide to the World Novel: From Myth to Modernism 
by Gilbert Phelps.
Routledge, 397 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 415 00765 8
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The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Longman, 696 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 582 49040 5
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The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel 1875-1914 
by Peter Keating.
Secker, 533 pp., £30, September 1989, 0 436 23248 0
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... line). Where Beckett, whose prose fiction deserves more consideration, gets nine lines, and Chandler only dates of birth and death, White gets a page and a half (68 lines) and a humanist fanfare: ‘These and other novels ... are outstanding in their range of social portraiture, psychological penetration, imaginative power, in their deep instinctive ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... about his second film, Le Petit Soldat, he invoked Welles’s The Lady From Shanghai, which David Thomson has seen as ‘deconstructing’ film noir. Une femme est une femme reminded him of Lubitsch’s supposed ‘failure’, Design For Living, and Richard Quine’s decidedly minor My Sister Eileen. Godard treated Hollywood as a kind of conceptual ...

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