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Jihad

James Wood, 5 August 1993

TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... like a dead fish oozing ‘its fluid genital trash’ – which is why he is worth reading at all. Harry Smart, in his second book of poems, Shoah, wants to see very large things – like the Holocaust, or the fate of contemporary Germany – and so writes a verse of regal vacancy, elevated but unstocked. His verse moves in an expensive chamber of ...

Let’s not overthink this

Michael Wood, 9 September 1993

... acceptable violence, the violence that the mildest of us used to hanker for. It’s not that Dirty Harry, say, had a heart; we never thought of him as our friend. But he had a mind and a history; his violent proceedings invited questions even as they offered answers we didn’t want to hear. Eastwood, in fact, as the most bankable and enduring Hollywood star ...

Nobody is God

Robert Taubman, 4 February 1982

Rabbit is Rich 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 467 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 233 97424 5
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Charlotte: Life or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
Allen Lane, 784 pp., £30, September 1981, 0 7139 1425 4
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Weights and Measures 
by Joseph Roth.
Peter Owen, 150 pp., £7.50, January 1982, 0 7206 0562 8
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November 
by Rolf Schneider.
Hamish Hamilton, 235 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 241 10347 9
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... third and latest, takes place in Brewster, Pennsylvania, from June 1979 into 1980. Rabbit – as Harry Angstrom is still known to himself – runs a Toyota agency; his scene is now the country club, the golf course and the Bahamas on a wife-swapping holiday. The novel is effortlessly informing about time and place; about ...

Formication

Daniel Soar: Harry Mathews, 21 July 2005

My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 
by Harry Mathews.
Dalkey Archive, 203 pp., £8.99, July 2005, 1 56478 392 8
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... In 1973, the American writer Harry Mathews, who was then in his mid-forties, was living in Paris. He had been divorced by his first wife, Niki de Saint Phalle; the editor Maxine Groffsky, with whom he had spent the last 12 years, had recently left him to go back to New York; his two children had also gone. It was, he later wrote, a time when his life was ‘at an ebb, professionally and privately ...

Diary

Clancy Sigal: Among the Draft-Dodgers, 9 October 2008

... Nato’s Visiting Forces Act; theoretically, in a time of war, we could be shot. I had first met Harry Pincus, the charismatic founder of our station, when we were both volunteer ‘barefoot doctors’ at R.D. Laing’s Kingsley Hall, a halfway house for psychotics in the East End. One night, when Harry was ambushed by a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman, 9 May 2002

... It’s hard to imagine anyone settling down to write the further adventures of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it’s never done as well as Tom Brown’s Schooldays: Amazon.co.uk hasn’t even heard of it ...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe: Beryl Bainbridge’s Beats, 7 May 2020

... the children.Injury Time isn’t the sort of novel that anyone writes these days: 150 pages of smart, efficient prose; characters and situation ruthlessly developed and then as ruthlessly discarded. Enormous skill is expended on a construction that builds rapid momentum, is packed with vitality, and then is abruptly over and done, roaring off into a chilly ...

Little Grey Cells

J. Robert Lennon: More Marple than Poirot, 5 March 2020

Big Sky 
by Kate Atkinson.
Black Swan, 356 pp., £8.99, January, 978 0 552 77666 0
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... and a needling hotelier called Andy Bragg. Crystal, Tommy’s cosmetically enhanced, street-smart wife, has a past she’d prefer to keep secret; her stepson, Harry, is a thoughtful boy fond of puns involving cheese. Two young female police detectives entertainingly called Ronnie and Reggie are interviewing in the ...

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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... Letters’ section of that earlier book, just as Dog Years reprised characters from The Tin Drum. Harry Liebenau and Jenny Brunies reappear. So, above all, does Tulla Pokriefke, the recipient of cousin Harry’s love letters, last met with in Dog Years as a teenage tram conductor who had just suffered a miscarriage; here ...

Post-Retinal

Harry Mathews, 28 November 1996

The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp: Desire, Liberation and the Self in Modern Culture 
by Jerrold Seigel.
California, 291 pp., £28, September 1996, 0 520 20038 1
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... strangeness as if the artist had no idea of what he was revealing; Duchamp strikes me as too smart for that. His enigmatic titles are said to secure him ‘in some invisible, private space’. But Duchamp’s comment – that they created ‘the possibility to invent a theme for the paintings, afterwards’ – looks acceptable enough. An enigma need not ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Princess Di and Laura Palmer, 22 January 2004

... queen, has been murdered. Agent Cooper – effortlessly dapper, crisply handsome, intimidatingly smart – is called in to investigate. He is assisted by the local sheriff, Harry S. Truman (as Cooper tells his Dictaphone, ‘shouldn’t be too hard to remember that’). It doesn’t take long for the scab of small-town ...

At Tate Modern

Eleanor Birne: Performing for the Camera, 21 April 2016

... arched ecstatically back as he anticipates his flight. He is wearing a suit and tie, a pair of smart shoes. A cyclist on the other side of the street pedals on, unaware or uninterested. One is left to imagine what comes next: lift-off, the artist transcendent; or the beginning of the descent, the man smacking down onto the tarmac below. As it ...

The Cattle-Prod Election

David Runciman: The Point of the Polls, 5 June 2008

... the last election he was able to follow all the way through was the one four years earlier, when Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey (no relation) in one of the great upsets in US presidential history. This was the election that is remembered for the photo of a triumphant Truman holding up an edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune announcing that Dewey had beaten ...

Redeemable Bad Guy

Ian Hamilton: Rabbit and Zooey, 2 April 1998

Toward the End of Time 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 334 pp., £16.99, February 1998, 0 241 13862 0
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Golf Dreams 
by John Updike.
Penguin, 224 pp., £6.99, February 1998, 0 14 026156 7
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... as we know him from his highly civilised and sociable non-fiction persona, is not at all like Harry Angstrom. (There is, of course, the golf, but Harry doesn’t really like golf, or gets to like it less and less. He’s in the golf club for its small-town social clout and for the chances it affords him for sizing up ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... The first private to win a field-marshal’s baton, Sir William Robertson, is missing. Billy Smart, the circus proprietor, is in, though not Sir Alan Cobham, whose private air force introduced millions to flying, or Sir Donald Wolfit. Tom Webster, the sports cartoonist, gains his niche, but not ‘Beachcomber’. Enough of that; the game is too easy to ...

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