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Sick Boys

Jenny Turner, 2 December 1993

Trainspotting 
by Irvine Welsh.
Secker, 344 pp., £8.99, July 1993, 0 436 56567 6
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... TAKES DRUGS IN PSYCHIC SELF-DEFENCE.’ The focus of Trainspotting is a young man called Mark Renton or Rents, a heroin addict who was born and brought up in Leith, the old port neighbourhood on the north-eastern side of Edinburgh. Renton has had it with steady work, having been an apprentice joiner for a while and given it up. He has tried, and also ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... life was an absolute mess. In his thorough and entertaining authorised biography of Cash, Steve Turner establishes a suitably saintly tone on the first page. ‘It was doubtful,’ he writes of his subject, ‘whether he had a bodily organ that hadn’t been operated on, an area of skin that hadn’t been gashed, or a significant bone that hadn’t been ...

A Generous Quantity of Fat

Paul Henley: Yes, People Were Cooked, 2 September 1999

Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American South-West 
by Christy Turner and Jacqueline Turner.
Utah, 512 pp., $60, January 1999, 9780874805666
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Cannibalism and the Colonial World 
edited by Francis Barker and Peter Hulme.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £13.95, August 1998, 0 521 62118 6
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Cannibals: The Discovery and Representation of the Cannibal from Columbus to Jules Verne 
by Frank Lestringant, translated by Rosemary Morris.
Polity, 256 pp., £39.50, April 1997, 0 7456 1697 6
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Chronicles of the Guayakí Indians 
by Pierre Clastres, translated by Paul Auster.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 571 19398 6
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... Even before it was published, Christy and the late Jacqueline Turner’s Man Corn provoked media hubbub. Last November, the New Yorker published a long profile of Christy Turner, and soon afterwards the story was picked up in Britain. The Times dedicated half a page to a discussion of the book’s findings, and even reflected on them in a leader ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... the story back to 1930 and to Ada Leverson, who – he suggests – probably heard it from Reggie Turner. In her version, ‘a curious, very young, but hard-eyed creature appeared, looked at him, gave a sort of laugh, and passed on. He felt, he said, “as if an icy hand had clutched at his heart”. He had a sudden presentiment. He saw a vision of ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... Last autumn, at the award ceremony of the 1994 Turner Prize, Charles Saatchi took the podium at the Tate Gallery. It was a very rare public appearance by Britain’s leading private collector of contemporary art. His words were awaited with interest. Since it opened to the public in 1985, the Saatchi collection in St John’s Wood has become a focus of what’s called the contemporary art debate ...

Disgrace Abounding

E.S. Turner, 7 January 1988

A Class Society at War: England 1914-18 
by Bernard Waites.
Berg, 303 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 907582 65 6
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Working for Victory? Images of Women in the First World War 
by Diana Condell and Jean Liddiard.
Routledge, 201 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7102 0974 6
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The Countryside at War 1914-18 
by Caroline Dakers.
Constable, 238 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 09 468060 4
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When Jim Crow met John Bull: Black American Soldiers in World War Two Britain 
by Graham Smith.
Tauris, 265 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 9781850430391
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... their way to look masculine, well, that is the way it was. Why, incidentally, is there a question-mark after ‘victory’ in the title? Women war-workers turn up again in Caroline Dakers’s The Countryside at War, tilling the land in company with soldiers, German prisoners and conscientious objectors, a more-than-dubious mix in the farmer’s eyes. The ...

Fit only to be a greengrocer

E.S. Turner, 23 September 1993

Rider Haggard and the Lost Empire 
by Tom Pocock.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £20, August 1993, 0 297 81308 0
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... as worthy. It is impossible, in the light of Haggard’s upbringing, to mock his desire to leave a mark on the world; an inspiration not ignoble, as it were. He had never seriously wanted to be a great Parliamentarian, deciding with his habitual concern for gentlemanly standards, that the House of Commons was ‘hardly the place for a self-respecting ...

In Praise of Barley Brew

E.S. Turner: Combustible Belloc, 20 February 2003

Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc 
by Joseph Pearce.
HarperCollins, 306 pp., £20, July 2002, 0 00 274095 8
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... about it, unlike Wilson. The death of his wife, after which he wore black for life, was a dividing mark in his career. There were fewer of those half-legendary carousals where tireless practical jokers downed ‘the Blood of Kings at only half-a-crown a bottle’ and bellowed songs about Burgundy and Roncesvalles. Some of that gusto now animated the younger ...

Wounding Nonsenses

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1997

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... of Nancy Mitford’s letters, Love from Nancy. Others who have been at the nest eggs include Mark Amory, who edited The Letters of Evelyn Waugh, and Artemis Cooper, who gave us the Waugh-Cooper correspondence in Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch. So what is left? We are assured that 80 per cent of the Mitford letters and 40 per cent of Waugh’s in this volume have ...

Fairy Lights

Jenny Turner, 2 November 1995

Morvern Callar 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 224 pp., £9.99, February 1995, 0 224 04011 1
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... down to this earth’. And we can tell she is beautiful from the inside because she carries its mark with her everywhere, in the streak of Christmas glitter buried deep and sparkling in the skin of her knee. Like the love she has known and the money she has come into, Morvern’s beauty frees her from pointless want. Unlike a real-life woman, she does not ...

Gas-Bags

E.S. Turner: The Graf Zeppelin, 15 November 2001

Dr Eckener’s Dream Machine: The Historic Saga of the Round-the-World Zeppelin 
by Douglas Botting.
HarperCollins, 356 pp., £17.99, September 2001, 0 00 257191 9
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... resist borrowing for an epigraph John Masefield’s tribute to the great sailing ships: ‘They mark our passage as a race of men,/Earth will not see such ships as these again.’ This lively book is a zeppelin history which concentrates on the round-the-world voyage of the Graf Zeppelin in 1929. Anyone who supposes that Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin was a ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... the head of the movement for reform in London. (They also led to A New London, a book written with Mark Fisher, then Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Arts and Culture, which was essentially the Labour Party’s environment manifesto for the 1992 election.) In 1995, Rogers became the first architect to deliver the Reith Lectures. He spoke about the radical ...

The Thought of Ruislip

E.S. Turner: The Metropolitan Line, 2 December 2004

Metro-Land: British Empire Exhibition Number 
by Oliver Green.
Southbank, 144 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 1 904915 00 0
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... was rebellion and it was saved for Metroland and the nation. World War One inevitably left its mark. Our ‘flying men’, it seems, did nothing to enhance property values on the Chiltern slopes. The Rothschild estate of Halton was ‘transformed into a vast camp of hutments, which played sad havoc with the beauty of the hillside towards Tring, and this ...

Walking on Eyeballs

E.S. Turner: The history of gout, 7 January 1999

Gout: The Patrician Malady 
by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau.
Yale, 393 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 300 07386 0
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... grew worried and alarmed if his gout did not return regularly. Besides, gout was very much a mark of status. Lord Chesterfield said it was ‘the distemper of a gentleman, whereas the rheumatism is the distemper of a hackney coachman’. It attacked not only the wealthy but the creative, which meant that no man of letters could afford to be without ...

Englishmen’s Castles

Gavin Stamp, 7 February 1980

The Victorian Country House 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 470 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 300 02390 1
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The Artist and the Country House 
by John Harris.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp., £37.50, November 1980, 0 85667 053 7
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National Trust Studies 1980 
edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 85667 065 0
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... in architecture, but country houses manage to secure a much wider, even popular, audience. Mark Girouard’s Life in the English Country House has actually become a best-seller – extraordinary in the field of architectural history – and its unprecedented success has encouraged Yale to issue as a companion volume a new edition of his earlier The ...

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