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The Family

Malise Ruthven, 17 December 1981

The House of Saud 
by David Holden and Richard Johns.
Sidgwick, 569 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 283 98436 8
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The Kingdom 
by Robert Lacey.
Hutchinson, 631 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 09 145790 4
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... the Godfather merged into a single script. Not surprisingly, two highly successful journalists, David Holden and Robert Lacey, decided to turn their talents to an exposition of this fascinating modern legend. Unfortunately Holden, a distinguished reporter with many years’ experience of the Middle East ...

My Wife

Jonathan Coe, 21 December 1989

Soho Square II 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 287 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 7475 0506 3
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... male and female alike (and particularly the younger ones). Some of them, such as Dyan Sheldon and David Holden, have interesting things to say: others merely plod on across well-trodden ground. Stephen Wall’s ‘The Bridge’ is a wispy and indulgent fragment about a marital break-up and a one-night stand: old themes, old ideas, old forms, old ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Elections in Egypt, 19 July 2012

... hardly see the sky. The cafés have charming names that ‘read like a Levantine requiem’, as David Holden wrote of old Alexandrian phonebooks. From the terrace of the fish restaurant where I had lunch, I watched children playing on the beach; a few women were in bikinis, a rare sight in a city where more and more women wear full niqabs, including ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... Anthony Holden’s is the 16th book about Laurence Olivier, and his foreword tells of two more biographers, John Cottrell and Garry O’Connor, too intent on their own deadlines to discuss their common quarry with him. All this activity may puzzle the lay person. Holden’s final pages report Olivier alive, as well as can be expected at 81, residing tranquilly in the Sussex countryside, still swimming occasional lengths of his pool in the altogether and attending the first nights of the three children who have followed Joan Plowright and himself into the theatre ...

At the End of a Dirt Road

Thomas Powers: The Salinger File, 24 October 2019

The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour – an Introduction 
by J.D. Salinger.
Little, Brown, 1072 pp., $100, November 2018, 978 0 316 45071 3
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... appeared in 2013. The last chapter of the book, based on nine years of research by its authors, David Shields and Shane Salerno, claimed that at least five books were finished when Salinger died: a collection of Glass stories, a book about the Indian philosophical-religious tradition of Vedanta, a novel about Salinger’s strange marriage to a German woman ...

Dun and Gum

Nicholas Jose: Murray Bail, 16 July 1998

Eucalyptus 
by Murray Bail.
Harvill, 264 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 1 86046 494 7
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... in book form in 1972, and Peter Carey’s ‘American Dreams’, a post-Vietnam satire, in 1974. David Foster’s first novel, The Pure Land, came out in 1975, and, deceptively to one side in the same year, stood Johnno, David Malouf’s first prose work. ‘It spread, throughout the Seventies and Eighties, this new ...

When in Bed

David Blackbourn, 19 October 1995

Reflections on a Life 
by Norbert Elias.
Polity, 166 pp., £35, October 1994, 0 7456 1383 7
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The Civilising Process 
by Norbert Elias.
Blackwell, 558 pp., £50, March 1994, 0 631 19222 0
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... the ruling things were phony,’ we hear the authentic voice of this unrepentant, octogenarian ...

Convenience Killing

John Sutherland, 7 April 1994

What’s Wrong with America 
by Scott Bradfield.
Picador, 196 pp., £14.99, January 1994, 0 330 32249 4
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The History of Luminous Motion 
by Scott Bradfield.
Picador, 196 pp., £5.99, January 1994, 0 330 33412 3
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Greetings from Earth 
by Scott Bradfield.
Picador, 296 pp., £5.99, January 1994, 0 330 32252 4
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... novel phase’. Before decaying brain cells reduce her to Judith Krantz Emma immerses herself in David Copperfield. The novel, as she informs her grandchildren and assorted genetic riff-raff, is loosely based on the author’s personal experiences working in a blacking factory and living in a debtor’s prison when he was little, which is something I know ...

Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... of pace’ might seem to be the problem with this dual strike-force, but happily the author – David Bennie – does not say so. Nick Hornby cannot be blamed for writing of this kind, although Fever Pitch has helped to set the tone. In some ways, Hornby has links with the old school. He knows and cares that there is something ‘moronic’ about his ...

What does a chicken know of bombs?

David Thomson: A Key to Brando, 5 December 2019

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando 
by William J. Mann.
HarperCollins, 718 pp., £22, November 2019, 978 0 06 242764 9
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... a known self. You can see it in some of Brando’s contemporaries – Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Glenn Ford or, coming up to date, Brad Pitt. And in the last analysis, the enduring stoicism of Pitt growing older can be more interesting than the wilder flights of an Al Pacino. Not that I wouldn’t give a lot for a movie several hours long in which ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland, 16 August 1990

Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... to 1953 and is set in rural Mississippi, a landscape of baked clay and shacks with cinder yards. David, the hero-narrator, grows up an only child in redneck poverty. His shiftless father drifts from job to job, beats his wife and lets David get beaten up by young thugs his own age. The family are ostracised by respectable ...

What does a snake know, or intend?

David Thomson: Where Joan Didion was from, 18 March 2004

Where I Was From 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 240 pp., £14.99, March 2004, 0 00 717886 7
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... strong man, strong in thought and action (if not quite John Wayne or Gable, then maybe the William Holden of The Wild Bunch era – or that dreamy Holden ‘seen’ on the street in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer). More than that, Democracy comes clean about the great prose writer sitting behind Didion: I said I would name ...

Idaho

Graham Hough, 5 March 1981

Housekeeping 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 218 pp., £5.25, March 1981, 0 571 11713 9
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The Noble Enemy 
by Charles Fox.
Granada, 383 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 246 11452 5
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The Roman Persuasion 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 297 77927 3
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... sensibility and an inadequate lexicon of feeling. How much truth can you tell in the dialect of Holden Caulfield? How much can you see through the eyes of the Member of the Wedding? But from the first page Marilynne Roberts totally rejects this method. Ruth, truant from school, who has never had a friend or a mentor, who has hardly even talked to anybody ...

Post-Modernism and the Law

Robert Post, 21 February 1991

Languages of Law: From Logics of Memory to Nomadic Masks 
by Peter Goodrich.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 297 82024 9
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Post-Modern Law: Enlightenment, Revolution and the Death of Man 
edited by Anthony Carty.
Edinburgh, 166 pp., £25, August 1990, 0 7486 0156 2
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... more rigorous and living languages’. In his last chapter, a fascinating discussion of the art of David Walliker, he makes it plain that meaningful law is impossible because under contemporary conditions of ‘ultra-modernity’ the authority required by such a law cannot exist. Instead we have only ‘the social forms of human absence’ arranged within ...

Breathing in Verse

Theodore Ziolkowski: A rich translation of Hölderlin, 23 September 2004

Poems and Fragments 
by Friedrich Hölderlin, translated by Michael Hamburger.
Anvil, 823 pp., £19.95, March 2004, 0 85646 360 4
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... Leishman rendered many of the odes into graceful Alcaics and Asclepiads; Christopher Middleton and David Constantine, in contrast, resorted to looser paraphrases. Hamburger takes the more challenging route – with considerable success. The opening lines of ‘Bread and Wine’ catch the rhythm and flow of Hölderlin’s distichs: Round us the town is at ...

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