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Nick Richardson: ‘The Bestseller Code’, 17 November 2016

... The plots of Stephen King, Jackie Collins, Dan Brown, Sylvia Day, Danielle Steel, Lee Child and James Patterson all, apparently, have a similar shape, and the curve of The Da Vinci Code is identical in its measuring out of highs and lows until the very end of the novel: Dan Brown finishes his book on an upbeat where E.L. ...

The Most Eligible Bachelor on the Planet

Thomas Jones: ‘The President is Missing’, 5 July 2018

The President Is Missing 
by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.
Century, 513 pp., £20, June 2018, 978 1 78089 839 1
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... There’s a lot of this kind of bullshit in the novel. We know it’s bullshit, and Clinton and Patterson surely know it’s bullshit, and surely Duncan knows it’s bullshit – doesn’t he? So why is he pretending otherwise? Whom is he hoping to deceive? This is his interior monologue, not a speech to Congress. But it’s almost indistinguishable from ...

Great Male Narcissist

Christopher Tayler: Sigrid Nunez, 1 August 2019

Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury 
by Sigrid Nunez.
Soft Skull, 172 pp., £12.50, August 2019, 978 1 59376 582 8
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The Friend 
by Sigrid Nunez.
Virago, 213 pp., £8.99, February 2019, 978 0 349 01281 0
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... seems more like a barrier against the rigours of their vocation, the kind of rigours that Henry James had in mind when he gave the dying writer his famous speech in ‘The Middle Years’: ‘We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.’ Nunez dramatises the problem of not ...

Pure TNT

James Francken: Thom Jones, 18 February 1999

Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 312 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 9780571196562
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... any friends. Not, at least, among the reporters covering his heavyweight title fight with Floyd Patterson in 1962. Intimidated by Listen’s criminal record and connections with organised crime, the press took his sullenness for the recalcitrance of an underworld brawler. The former heavyweight champion is no less threatening in Thom Jones’s two previous ...

A Topic Best Avoided

Nicholas Guyatt: Abraham Lincoln, 1 December 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 426 pp., £21, February 2011, 978 0 393 06618 0
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... of election to the House of Representatives on the Whig ticket, the timing was dreadful. President James K. Polk, a Democrat, had just declared war on Mexico. Along with many other Whigs, Lincoln denounced Polk, incurring the charge of disloyalty to the troops. Then the Whig Party confirmed its meretriciousness by nominating Zachary Taylor, a returning ...

Rosy Revised

Robert Olby: Rosalind Franklin, 20 March 2003

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA 
by Brenda Maddox.
HarperCollins, 380 pp., £20, June 2002, 0 00 257149 8
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... the limelight from physicists and astronomers. Best known among them are the Nobel laureates James Watson and Francis Crick; less well known is Rosalind Franklin, who died in 1958 aged 37. Today many believe that, had she lived, she, too, would have won a Nobel Prize for her pivotal contribution to the work on DNA and subsequently on the structure of the ...

At the Fitzwilliam

Ian Patterson: A tidying-up and a sorting-out, 11 August 2016

... its history, the directorship of Sydney Cockerell from 1908 to 1937. Cockerell, who followed M.R. James in the post, had been library cataloguer and acquisitions assistant to William Morris during the 1890s, and his taste was formed by Morris and Ruskin and their circles. He seems to have been relentlessly acquisitive, mostly on behalf of the Fitzwilliam, and ...

The Thing

Michael Wood: Versions of Proust, 6 January 2005

In Search of Lost Time: Vol. I: The Way by Swann’s 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 496 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118031 5
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol.II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by James Grieve.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118032 3
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. III: The Guermantes Way 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Mark Treharne.
Penguin, 640 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118033 1
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by John Sturrock.
Penguin, 576 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 9780141180342
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. V: ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Fugitive’ 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Carol Clark and Peter Collier.
Penguin, 720 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118035 8
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In Search of Lost Time: Vol. VI: Finding Time Again 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Christopher Prendergast, translated by Ian Patterson.
Penguin, 400 pp., £8.99, October 2003, 0 14 118036 6
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The Proust Project 
edited by André Aciman.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., $25, November 2004, 0 374 23832 4
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... it. Translating this sentence in its context, in the last volume of In Search of Lost Time, Ian Patterson has ‘the only true paradise is a paradise that we have lost.’ This is good because idiomatic, and it gets rid of the troubling plural. How many paradises could we bear to lose, and how many chances do we think we have? ‘Only’ seems a reasonable ...

Bardbiz

Terence Hawkes, 22 February 1990

Rebuilding Shakespeare’s Globe 
by Andrew Gurr and John Orrell.
Weidenfeld, 197 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 297 79346 2
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Shakespeare and the Popular Voice 
by Annabel Patterson.
Blackwell, 195 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 631 16873 7
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Re-Inventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History from the Restoration to the Present 
by Gary Taylor.
Hogarth, 461 pp., £18, January 1990, 0 7012 0888 0
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Shakespeare’s America, America’s Shakespeare 
by Michael Bristol.
Routledge, 237 pp., £30, January 1990, 0 415 01538 3
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... plays, the factor which completed them and made them work: their original audience. Annabel Patterson’s Shakespeare and the Popular Voice boldly confronts this issue in a spirited study of the ways in which the plays might be said to give that audience a voice. Rejecting as ‘counter-intuitive’ the notion that Shakespeare would have supported an ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 3 December 2015

Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... seductively in his recent memoir, Between the World and Me. Formally modelled on the first part of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, the book is addressed to Coates’s teenage son, Samori, on the occasion of the non-indictment of Brown’s killer, a white police officer called Darren Wilson. ‘We are captured, brother, surrounded by the majoritarian ...
... alter ego during the evening who will offend you whoever you are. As it happens, I can stand Les Patterson even when he belches while dribbling on his loud tie, but to sit there with your eyes closed is sometimes to wonder at the price of the ticket. Other people find the trade-union con-man Lance Boyle hard to take – offended in their radical beliefs or ...

Disgrace under Pressure

Andrew O’Hagan: Lad mags, 3 June 2004

Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men's Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
Show More
Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
Show More
Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
Show More
Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men’s Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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... you don’t install mirrored wardrobes.’ Later on there’s a two-page spread of the young actor James Franco’s lips. That’s Gentleman’s Quarterly for you: a magazine for men who want to have what women have – clean nails, hairless chests, fresh armpits and moist lips. A magazine for men clever enough to want to look like the kind of person they’re ...

Gaelic Communist

Graham Walker, 12 October 1989

James Connolly: A Political Biography 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 244 pp., £9.95, October 1989, 0 7190 2958 9
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James Connolly: Selected Writings 
edited by P. Beresford Ellis.
Pluto, 256 pp., £8.95, April 1988, 9780745302676
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... James Connolly is not a figure historians can confidently aspire to demythologise. His importance in Irish history lies as much in the images which have been fashioned of him as in his actual writings and actions. Images and myths, of course, are central to the creed of Irish nationalism, and it is hardly surprising, therefore, that many influential ones have been constructed around the only leader, and martyr, of the Easter Rising of 1916 with a socialist reputation ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... disentangle. To say that his big pictures – the Death of Nelson, Coriolanus, even the Death of James Dean – look like enlarged illustrations is unfair to his real illustrations. He was delighted when he found he could use a big photograph of a drawing on an exhibition stand, and was right to be. His pen marks were much more interesting than his brush ...

Here to take Karl Stead to lunch

C.K. Stead, 30 January 1992

Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation 
by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 242 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1021 0
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... Edna’s drag is so clearly present – precisely the same person who looks out through Sir Les Patterson’s extravagant make-up. The biggest joke is against himself. In the presence of someone willing to make himself into Edna, or Les, why should we want to preserve our dignity? But there is also, under the clever little stabs of malice, something ...

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