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Hiatus at 4 a.m.

David Trotter: What scared Hitchcock?, 4 June 2015

Alfred Hitchcock 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 279 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 0 7011 6993 0
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Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much 
by Michael Wood.
New Harvest, 129 pp., £15, March 2015, 978 1 4778 0134 5
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Hitchcock à la carte 
by Jan Olsson.
Duke, 261 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 8223 5804 6
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Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II 
edited by Sidney Gottlieb.
California, 274 pp., £24.95, February 2015, 978 0 520 27960 5
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... when they think the very worst. They are certainly lavish in their propitiations: it takes Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) 45 seconds to die in Psycho, but the scene required seventy different camera set-ups. Ceremony enough, surely. But Hitchcock knew that the gods who took the treasures away were not the kind to be propitiated. The best commentary on this aspect ...

Awful but Cheerful

Gillian White: The Tentativeness of Elizabeth Bishop, 25 May 2006

Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments 
by Elizabeth Bishop, edited by Alice Quinn.
Farrar, Straus, 367 pp., £22.50, March 2006, 0 374 14645 4
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... involves the contrast between the work published in her lifetime – which seems so aware, as David Kalstone put it, ‘of the smallness and dignity of human observation and contrivance’ – and the pain and disorder of her often very messy life. Born in 1911, Bishop was effectively orphaned as a small child: her father died before she was one; in ...


Will Self: Walking out of London, 20 October 2011

... Canal and across Hounslow Heath, or else via the Thames, Richmond Park, Twickenham and the River Crane. But these were walks that terminated at the terminals: now we would have to pass by the vast urban veldt. The first day, we followed the southerly route to Heathrow while the planes petulantly boomed overhead. Along the riverside, Luther mugged it up for ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures, 18 June 2015

... an Event Suspended Indefinitely’ Sammy Baloji for the Belgian Pavilion The Armstrong Mitchell Crane near the Arsenale A Bruce Nauman neon and an Abdel Abdessemed knife sculpture in the Arsenale Paz Errázuriz for the Chilean Pavilion Georg Baselitz’s self-portraits in the ArsenalePreviousNext Lack of space and a desire to make the exhibition truly ...


Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... students loved him. Modern critics – especially Scottish ones – have been less impressed. For David Daiches, Wilson is an ‘absolute impostor’ and a ‘windbag’; Andrew Noble tags him ‘the clay-footed prophet of the British-Scots middle-class’. In some respects, Wilson deserves all he gets. As an academic he was a charlatan; as a critic a coward ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... group-activity, an even greater claim to newness. But what about the loose network which connected Crane, Conrad, Ford, Wells and James? What about the Auden Gang? Both sets of writers have been the subject of group-biographies which, like Brown’s, delineate rivalries and influences. To acknowledge such examples would he to dispel some of the glamour ...


David Craig: In the Barra Isles, 30 October 1997

... burned so that they could not return,’ and not only the roofs but the jib and derrick of the crane that had been built by the Congested Districts Board in 1901 in a belated effort to solve the difficulty of getting boats safely inshore and catches unloaded. Had this been, then, the last outright and forced clearance in the Highlands? That evening I went ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... In the Thirties and early Forties the English poet David Gascoyne was much enamoured of the Continental, Late Romantic image of writing and of the writer as a visionary misfit. By the end of the Thirties, his place in the great Euro-Visionary Song Contest was almost secured. He confessed his ambition in his Journals in 1938: Want to write an essay on ‘The Apotheosis of Lautréamont ...

Hot Dogs

Malcolm Bull, 14 June 1990

Mine eyes have seen the glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America 
by Randall Balmer.
Oxford, 246 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 19 505117 3
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In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt, USA 
by Douglas Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 240 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 04 440423 9
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The Divine Supermarket 
by Malise Ruthven.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3151 9
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The Democratisation of American Christianity 
by Nathan Hatch.
Yale, 312 pp., £22.50, November 1989, 0 300 44470 2
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Religion and 20th-Century American Intellectual Life 
edited by Michael Lacey.
Cambridge/Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, 214 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 37560 6
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New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America 
by Mary Farrell Bednarowski.
Indiana, 175 pp., $25, November 1989, 0 253 31137 3
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... people who could not reconcile themselves to what they were taught to believe – men like Samuel Crane who, unable to resolve the contradictions in the sermon of his Calvinist minister but certain that the clergyman must be right because he was a ‘very learned man’, left church and ‘commenced pounding his head with his fist, for he really thought his ...

Long live the codex

John Sutherland: The future of books, 5 July 2001

Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future 
by Jason Epstein.
Norton, 188 pp., £16.95, March 2001, 0 393 04984 1
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... that became known as Modernism’ – Joyce, Hemingway, Eliot, Dreiser, O’Neill, Pound, Yeats, Crane. Not all New Yorkers – but let that pass. Came the great books, came the great men to publish them. They operated canny cross-subsidies by which revenue from disvalued bestsellers was ploughed back into worthier literary ventures. This is the essence of ...


Gaby Wood: On Gene Kelly, 21 March 1996

... white grin, held for much longer than it takes to say ‘cheese’, I can see a glimpse of what David Thomson calls Kelly’s ‘harsh, calculating cheerfulness’. It is a picture of an all-American confidence, one that was not just Kelly’s but belonged to his audience and to his time. (Johnny Green recalls his Freed Unit colleagues as ‘the laughingest ...

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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... to. In 1987, in the catalogue published to accompany an exhibition about the Harlem Renaissance, David Levering Lewis referred to Larsen as ‘the mysterious and lovely Virgin Islander’. Eight years later, in When Harlem Was in Vogue, Lewis relayed the (unsourced) information that Larsen was looked down on by ‘some of her fellow Virgin Islanders’ for ...

He K-norcked Her One

August Kleinzahler: Burroughs and Kerouac’s Novel, 28 May 2009

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 
by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Penguin, 214 pp., £20, November 2008, 978 1 84614 164 5
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... and shits in America’. The group included Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer. In August 1944, Carr stabbed and killed Kammerer. Near the end of And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a lightly fictionalised and surprisingly engaging account of the murder and of the months leading up to it, written in 1945 by ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote, 21 April 2005

The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... written and of a balls-aching boredom.’ In 1960 he found something he did like. He announced to David Selznick that ‘a delightful book’ called To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was ‘going to be a great success’. He himself, he wrote, was the model for the character Dill, being a childhood friend of the author’s. The first letter in Too Brief ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth, 23 March 2006

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... child growing up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side a few years before the First World War. David Schearl, the protagonist, lives in terror of his father, an implacably resentful man called Albert, who boils with rage every evening while recounting real or imagined workplace slights: ‘They look at me crookedly, with mockery in their eyes! How much can ...

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