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Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín: Diane Arbus, 2 March 2017

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer 
by Arthur Lubow.
Cape, 734 pp., £35, October 2016, 978 0 224 09770 3
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Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov 
by Alexander Nemerov.
Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp., $30, March 2015, 978 1 881337 41 6
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... a world as distant as possible from the one in which she was raised. Arbus’s brother, the poet Howard Nemerov, wrote that her ‘pictures are spectacular, shocking, dramatic and concentrate on subjects perverse and queer (freaks, professional transvestites, strong men, tattooed men, the children of the very rich)’. He and Diane were the children 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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... of motels in this area. You should’ve – I mean just to be safe – Anthony Perkins, who plays Norman Bates in the film, has justly remarked: ‘Luckily, I think that most of the people who saw the picture enjoyed it in a very good warmhearted way. When they were frightened, they were pleased that they were frightened.’ For Hitchcock to say, ‘To me ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal, 10 May 2007

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... patrician composure suggestive of Burt Lancaster playing Lampedusa’s Leopard. Neither Vidal nor Howard Auster, his long-standing companion, swam in the pool, which was even more impressively blue than the sea at the foot of the cliff. Sunshine, cypresses, cicadas, scented air, the physical drama: all the sense-heightening Mediterranean stuff. Kurt ...

The Irresistible Itch

Colin Kidd: Vandals in Bow Ties, 3 December 2009

Personal Responsibility: Why It Matters 
by Alexander Brown.
Continuum, 214 pp., £12.99, September 2009, 978 1 84706 399 1
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... when uttered by Conservatives who had risen from the lower middle class, like Thatcher herself or Norman Tebbit, but is impossible to swallow from Cameron and other graduates of Oxford’s Bullingdon Club, who carry out acts of vandalism dressed in bow tie and tails. Exposure to the real lives of typical Britons would probably blur the concept of ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... far too damaging to be employed only two years before an election, and by a clever coup Michael Howard was installed without opposition. Not surprisingly, he proved infinitely better than his two predecessors, but he did not have enough time, and never looked anything like a winner. As a result of Tory inadequacy, Labour won easily in 2005 and although the ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... dollar bills into a shredder in order to disguise their provenance in the empire of – Howard Hughes? Marilyn Monroe fucked both Kennedy brothers before taking her own life, if she did indeed take it. Frank Sinatra raised money for the Reagans and acted as at least a confidante to the First Lady. ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... soap: Allan Stewart, wielder of the pick-axe; Michael Mates, sender of the famous watch; Norman Lamont, evictor (with some help from the tax-payer) of the tenant with too colourful a professional life; Patrick Nicholls, suspected drunk driver; Nicholas Ridley, too loquacious an advocate of anti-German feeling; and Mrs Edwina Currie (‘most of the ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal, 31 July 2014

... said he hated New York for the greed and envy at Elaine’s, but he talked about Truman Capote and Norman Mailer as he did ten years ago – as rivals and enemies, coming back to them obsessively. Worst of all the New York crowd was Alfred Kazin – ‘Saul Bellow called him the conductor on the gravy train. Wherever they were passing out ...

I had to refrain

Andrew Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses, 1 December 2005

Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... G.E. Street, a designer of great fluency who in the words of Webb’s successor in the post, Norman Shaw, never let his pupils design so much as a keyhole. That was a principle which Webb came also to adopt. On graduating from Oxford, Morris briefly fancied becoming an architect and put himself under Street, who handed him on to Webb. Something of the ...

After-Time

Christopher Hitchens, 19 October 1995

Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... grass is a stone slab, bearing the names and dates of birth of Vidal and his lifelong companion Howard Austen. The hyphens that come after the years (1925 and 1928 respectively) lie like little marble asps, waiting to keep their dates. Who knows what decided the cemetery authorities to advertise their prospective clients in this way? Elsewhere among the ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... Parliament was the one that would soon become conventional for his generation: special adviser (to Norman Lamont when he was chancellor), then a bit of media work (for Carlton Television), all eased by the lubricant of personal connections. May took the old-fashioned route. She fought two losing campaigns in safe Labour seats before finally securing the ...

Rules of the Game

Jon Elster, 22 December 1983

Mémoires 
by Raymond Aron.
Julliard, 778 pp., frs 120, September 1983, 9782260003328
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Clausewitz: Philosopher of War 
by Raymond Aron, translated by Norman Stone and Christine Booker.
Routledge, 418 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9009 9
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Clausewitz 
by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... Clausewitz are not taken from what is now the standard English translation of On War, by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. I suspect that they have been translated from the French, but would hope that my fears are unfounded. In any case, the translation of the text is turgid, and full of mistakes. Where Aron comments on the view that Clausewitz, towards the ...

Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen, 14 January 2002

Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
by Damien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care 
by Lee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
by Christopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... in place. Over the next ten years he became a star. He initially worked as a contract player at Howard Hughes’s RKO. (Hughes, a control-freak, had Mitchum’s house bugged: Mitchum, with characteristic contrariness, always insisted he liked Hughes.) His best roles were largely in film noir and dark westerns, the most famous of them Out of the Past and ...

Mad Monk

Jenny Diski: Not going to the movies, 6 February 2003

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 963 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 316 85905 2
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Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Anthony Lane.
Picador, 752 pp., £15.99, November 2002, 0 330 49182 2
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Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 314 pp., £13, December 2002, 1 85984 391 3
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... from great movies: the likes of Richard Blaine and Ilsa Lund, George Bailey, Travis Bickle and Norman Bates, who turn out, in the interstices of the entries, to have entangled lives and a dark plot all of their own. If only Howard Hawks wasn’t dead and had made a movie of Suspects we could all die happy and go to ...

As seen on TV

Keith Kyle, 26 September 1991

From the House of War 
by John Simpson.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 09 175034 2
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In the Eye of the Storm 
by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti.
Bloomsbury, 342 pp., £16.99, August 1991, 0 7475 1050 4
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... published without an index, From the House of War, a book to be classed perhaps with William Howard Russell’s My Diary North and South on the opening phases of the American Civil War, is not at all carelessly written, nor is its quality impaired by periodic observations that remind one that the author is a television man. Indeed, that seems especially ...

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