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Science, Vine and Wine in Modern France 
by Harry Paul.
Cambridge, 355 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 49745 0
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... plantings of hybrids were outlawed for commercial purposes. Today they have all but disappeared. Paul questions how serious the phylloxera epidemic really was, pointing out that mildew was regarded as a more serious problem in the 1880s and that yields increased to compensate for the loss of vineyards. This may be correct, but the threat of phylloxera was ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: A west-country Man U supporter speaks, 22 June 2006

... folklore (youth + talent + death = legend), but the story has recently become more vexed. Harry Gregg, goalkeeper and hero of the crash (he carried a baby and several players from the burning plane, among them Bobby Charlton), has spoken out with some bitterness. For him, the crash has ‘become an industry, which certain people have perpetuated and ...

In Icy Baltic Waters

David Blackbourn: Gunter Grass, 27 June 2002

Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 216 pp., €18, February 2002, 3 88243 800 2
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... here the historical timeline is inserted, flatly, alongside them. The narrator is the fictive Paul Pokriefke, but the novelist himself chips in, too, appearing first by name, then as ‘the old man’, a third time as ‘the boss’. Grass’s interventions lament his own and his generation’s failure to write about the refugees from the East. He ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘Anthrax’!, 7 July 2005

... a cardboard box; a lump of plasticine – near a member of the royal family. ‘I could have blown Harry to bits,’ the front-page headline proclaimed. ‘Sun man gets “bomb” into Sandhurst.’ A very low-resolution picture, taken by the Sun man’s hidden camera, showed a bunch of cadets, the head of one of them ringed in red. This, apparently, is Prince ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Little England, 24 May 2001

... the name of the universally adored J.K. Rowling OBE. Is this not taking the antique Englishness of Harry Potter just a little too far? But then I remember that the ‘feasts’ served up at Hogwarts boarding school are of ‘roast beef, roast chicken . . . lamb chops . . . Yorkshire puddings . . . peppermint humbugs’ and the like. All of which is, as ...

Like a Manta Ray

Jenny Turner: The Entire History of Sex, 21 October 2015

The Argonauts 
by Maggie Nelson.
Graywolf, 143 pp., £23, May 2015, 978 1 55597 707 8
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... can you tell; or rather, who’s to tell?’ I’m guessing that Maggie probably met her partner, Harry, through work in some way, as both have teaching jobs at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, just north of LA. So they meet, they fall in love, they move in together – and immediately, their hilltop love nest has to double as a family ...

Right as pie

Paul Foot, 24 October 1991

Tom Mann, 1856-1941: The Challenges of Labour 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Oxford, 288 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 19 820217 2
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... youth to be an actor, and always loved the theatre. His supreme gift was his humour. My witness is Harry McShane, who died in 1988 aged 97 after a lifetime’s agitation not unlike Tom Mann’s. Harry heard them all – Hyndman, MacLean, Grayson, Wheatley, Cook, Maxton, Bevan, Pollitt – yes, even MacDonald. ‘None of them ...

Anticipatory Plagiarism

Paul Grimstad: Oulipo, 6 December 2012

Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature 
by Daniel Levin Becker.
Harvard, 338 pp., £19.95, May 2012, 978 0 674 06577 2
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... novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller; a ‘Mathews algorithm’, named for its inventor Harry Mathews, consists of generating content by moving sets of words, sentences or paragraphs through serial permutations (a technique he used to derive the Montagnard tribe’s dialect for his novel The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium); and ...

Asking too much

Stephen Wall, 22 February 1990

Lust, and Other Stories 
by Susan Minot.
Heinemann, 147 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434467570
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In Transit 
by Mavis Gallant.
Faber, 229 pp., £12.99, February 1990, 0 571 14212 5
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The Perfect Place 
by Sheila Kohler.
Cape, 148 pp., £11.95, February 1990, 0 224 02748 4
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Howling at the moon 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 174 pp., £10.95, February 1990, 0 09 469590 3
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by William Bedford.
Heinemann, 186 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434055593
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... desperate defence against the importunity of memory and the inescapability of guilt. The hero of Paul Sayer’s second book, Howling at the moon, ends up in the same kind of place as the narrator of his first, the Whitbread Prize-winning The Comforts of Madness. Michael Crumly’s decline from marital content to mental breakdown is charted with much ...

’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... authors, the novelist and scientist ‘William Cooper’: he was born in 1910 and brought up (as Harry Hoff) in the town of Crewe in Cheshire. Seniors in his family were determined chapel-goers, but Cooper-Hoff looks back at his childhood, over eighty years, with the quiet smile of a tolerant agnostic: his light, amused impressions illustrate the way England ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... Tony Parsons is the talented journalist who used to play Leonard Bast to Tom Paulin’s rentier intellectual on Late Review, the BBC’s weekly parade of Schlegelisms. He was the mean little man with the Estuary accent who was entitled to his views. He currently writes a column for the Mirror and his opinions spill forth also now in novels ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Avengers: Endgame’, 6 June 2019

... and is living with his old sweetheart retrieved from the 1970s. On the soundtrack we hear the Harry James song ‘It’s been a long, long time’, already familiar from Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). It’s not just the Avengers who are ending here. In 2008, with their film Iron Man, Marvel Studios embarked on a series of 22 films and this ...

The Rupert Trunk

Christopher Tayler: Alan Hollinghurst, 28 July 2011

The Stranger’s Child 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 565 pp., £20, June 2011, 978 0 330 48324 7
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... for Brooke a small foothold in Gay Studies’. The star turn was a letter first printed in full in Paul Delany’s The Neo-Pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle (1987). Writing to James Strachey, Brooke describes some encounters with his fellow Rugbeian Denham Russell-Smith: We had hugged & kissed & strained, Denham & I, on & off for years ...

Franklin D, listen to me

J. Hoberman: Popular (Front) Songs, 17 September 1998

Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left, 1926-53 
edited by Ronald Cohen and Dave Samuelson.
Bear Family Records, DM 390, June 1996
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... Folkways Anthology, edited by the polymath collector, underground film-maker, and beatnik shaman Harry Smith, is arcane, but the critical world has been primed for its reappearance. Robert Cantwell’s When We Were Good and Greil Marcus’s The Invisible Republic – recent accounts of the curious development of American folk music – both devote ...

Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... Service and went early to university, where he quickly established himself as a comic genius. Harry Thompson has written a serious and carefully researched biography, and his early pages can be read in perfect silence. Suddenly, however, as it reaches the early Sixties, the narrative is interspersed with indented passages of Peter Cook’s jokes. They ...

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