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Magical Realism

D.A.N. Jones, 1 August 1985

The House of the Spirits 
by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02231 8
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Linden Hills 
by Gloria Naylor.
Hodder, 304 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780340360330
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Careful with the Sharks 
by Constantine Phipps.
Cape, 216 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780224023085
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... the vogue-word: but this seems to me a farrago of fantasy-triggers. I was astonished when Marina Warner asserted on television that the book ‘gives you an astonishing understanding of a political situation’. On the same day, Marilyn Butler was equally effusive on Radio 3 and Hermione Lee assured us in the Observer that the author has ‘impeccably heroic ...

Moguls

J. Hoberman: Did the Jews invent Hollywood?, 7 March 2002

Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History up to World War Two 
by Steven Alan Carr.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £42.50, July 2001, 9780521798549
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... the first witness. He repeated his charge that the movies had been captured by foreigners. Harry Warner (the most actively anti-Nazi studio boss) and Twentieth Century Fox’s Darryl Zanuck testified on their own behalf, the latter stressing his Christian background and Nebraska roots. The studios also enlisted as their spokesman Wendell Willkie, Republican ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... For Stax, Redding’s death was a staggering loss. While the studio was still in mourning, Warner Brothers bought Atlantic Records, the New York label that Stax had long-standing agreements with. When Jim Stewart went over the paperwork, he found that Atlantic, and now Warner Brothers, owned all of his master ...

Back from the Underworld

Marina Warner: The Liveliness of the Dead, 17 August 2017

The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Princeton, 711 pp., £27.95, October 2015, 978 0 691 15778 8
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... sequence of letters between a farmhand, Emily Chitticks, and her sweetheart, Private Will Martin; five of the 23 letters she wrote were returned, inscribed KILLED. In one, she told him: ‘I have dreamt that you were back home with me dear and the most strange thing about them, you are always in civilian clothes when I dream of you & and I have never ...

Injury Time

Robert Taubman, 2 July 1981

Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... prototypes aside, he essentially belongs in the tradition of the American cop, his true home a Warner Brothers movie. He’s not expected to answer awkward existential questions: but he has something, an integrity of his own, that only a hero empty of everything else seems to possess. The empty heroes of Hemingway and the earlier American crime novelists ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... context and mood of the time – Wodehouse agreeably exploiting British pastoral illusions, Rex Warner, in his parable The Aerodrome, warning us against a parochialism that could be dangerous in a hostile and regimented world, and so on. And now the business of making everything hang together, not only in the arts but in the political present and its drab ...

Bloody

Michael Church, 9 October 1986

The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... lips regain colour as her blood is piped directly from her veins into his. Sylvia Townsend Warner visits the public letter-writers’ booths, ‘where men and women whose faces bear the unmistakable imprint of intellect and thought wait in a queue to dictate the letters they are not able to write for themselves’. Ralph Bates notes the care and ...

Bratpackers

Richard Lloyd Parry: Alex Garland, 15 October 1998

The Beach 
by Alex Garland.
Penguin, 439 pp., £5.99, June 1997, 0 14 025841 8
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The Tesseract 
by Alex Garland.
Viking, 215 pp., £9.99, September 1998, 0 670 87016 1
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... and Nintendo video games, Airfix models, Tintin and Asterix, David Attenborough’s Life on Earth, Warner Brothers cartoons, The Waltons and The A-Team, the film Zombie Flesh-Eaters. The novel begins in Bangkok’s backpackers’ quarter, the Khao San Road, ‘a decompression chamber for those about to leave or enter Thailand, a halfway house between East and ...

How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... innocent homoeroticism discussed by Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) or in Martin Taylor’s less fashionable, less thesis-driven anthology, Lads, republished in 1998. In Taylor’s collection, so often are the poems bad, unaware (Ronald-like?) or puny that the best among them – Gurney’s, Edward Thomas’s, Owen’s – rise from ...

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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... an actual dispute about contemporary art was staged at the Tate – defending, Michael Craig-Martin, leading light at Goldsmiths’ College; prosecuting, Hilton Kramer, editor of the New Criterion (it’s telling that there was no obvious British champion on this side). It was made a condition that the speakers should not address each other. Afterwards I ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... Gay, the B-29 from which the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 50 years earlier. The director, Martin Harwit, wanted an exhibition that would place the bombing of Hiroshima in context, showing what it did and giving arguments for and against. There was a great storm of protest from veterans, who felt they were being depicted as ‘war criminals’. After a ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... books?’ That reply always ends a conversation. On the way into the hall on the last night I saw Martin Amis, on assignment for Newsweek, being scanned with a metal detector. I collected my floor pass and headed for stage right, by the West Virginia delegation, who were wearing ‘War on Coal’ pins and mining helmets to remind the nation which state lights ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water, 31 July 2008

... exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and Tynemarch did not return my call. But here is what Martin Kane, Severn Trent’s director of customer relations, said in an interview with Radio Gloucestershire shortly after the floods: ‘The risk of flood defences being breached at the Mythe was – I think it was something like a one in a thousand chance of ...

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