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Whitehall Farces

Patrick Parrinder, 8 October 1992

Now you know 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 9780670845545
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... Lodge and Tom Sharpe. But in any wider competition for the post of English humorist-in-residence, Michael Frayn would surely be a prime contender. Now verging on sixty, his collected plays and translations fill three thick volumes, his early newspaper columns for the Guardian and the Observer have been reprinted, and he is well launched into the second ...
The Trick of It 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 172 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 670 82985 4
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The Long Lost Journey 
by Jennifer Potter.
Bloomsbury, 179 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0463 6
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Falling 
by Colin Thubron.
Heinemann, 152 pp., £10.95, September 1989, 0 434 77978 4
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Coming to Light 
by Elspeth Davie.
Hamish Hamilton, 191 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12861 7
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A Careless Widow 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 176 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7011 3438 0
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... Michael Frayn hasn’t published a novel for 16 years, but it’s immediately clear from his new one that he hasn’t lost the trick of it. After so long a lay-off some self-consciousness might have been expected, but Frayn has turned this potential liability to advantage by making it an essential part of his subject ...

One Small Moment

Christopher Tayler: Michael Frayn, 21 February 2002

Spies 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.99, February 2002, 0 571 21286 7
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... Michael Frayn’s new novel is a loss-of-innocence story in which an elderly narrator is prompted to disinter long-buried memories of a particular time and place. Slowly at first, a narrative begins to emerge: a golden summer, a semi-rural idyll, the first stirrings of adolescence. Rather than having a poignant romance with someone close to his own age, though, the protagonist becomes embroiled in adult affairs which he is ill-equipped to understand ...

Diary

Alexei Sayle: The 006 from Liverpool to London, 19 January 1984

... In this series Paul Theroux takes the London Transport Number 19 from his house down to the shops. Michael Frayn goes on a sight-seeing tour round Sheffield, and Michael Palin pays five quid to go to India on an old Leeds Corporation double-decker. And I, in a bus-ride down memory motorway, take the number 006 National ...

It wasn’t the Oval

Blake Morrison: Michael Frayn, 7 October 2010

My Father’s Fortune: A Life 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 255 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 571 27058 3
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... dramatic technique, says: ‘What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats.’ If Tom Frayn had had his way, his son, Michael, would have joined this company of enthusiasts or, better still, have opened the batting for England at the Oval. Many hours were spent on back-garden coaching but the boy proved a ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve, 1 December 1983

Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... features that seem overtly political when compared with the collection of satirical essays by Michael Frayn. As James Fenton suggests in his Introduction, Frayn’s satire, even when concerned with worldly matters, seems to come from a slightly unrecognisable recent past. ...

Who ate the salted peanuts?

Jerry Fodor, 21 September 2006

The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 505 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 571 23217 5
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... makes it hard to be as funny about them as they are when they’re left to their own devices. But Michael Frayn is among the honoured few who have succeeded. I fondly remember a piece of his from the 1960s (about fog) that purported to be a newly discovered fragment of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein generally writes with a ...

Four Thousand, Tops

Michael Wood: Headlong by Michael Frayn, 14 October 1999

Headlong 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 395 pp., £16.99, August 1999, 0 571 20051 6
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... In Michael Frayn’s first novel, The Tin Men, there is a character who is supposed to be writing a novel, but mainly concentrates on devising the blurbs and reviews for the as yet unstarted book, as if the work itself was merely the plodding cause of a glittering celebrity effect, and ideally could be dispensed with altogether ...

The Third Suitcase

Thomas Jones: Michael Frayn, 24 May 2012

Skios 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 278 pp., £15.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28141 1
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... About ten years ago I went to see Michael Frayn’s Noises Off in the West End. The play has been revived, and rewritten, many times since its first run in 1982 and its place in the farcical canon is undisputed. One consequence of its (entirely deserved) reputation for being hilarious is that audiences strongly expect it to make them laugh ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... Briefly during the second act Michael Frayn’s stage-play, Make and Break, transcends its setting, a Frankfurt trade fair, touching on a general gloom. Mrs Rogers is treating Garrard, a goatish sales rep, to the fruits of Buddhism. It is late in the day. Elsewhere assignations are arranged, faces stuffed, drinks swilled ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The vexed issue of Labour Party funding, 19 October 2006

... limit wouldn’t only prohibit million-pound gifts from businessmen with something to gain: even Michael Frayn, who gave Labour £7000 last year, would be forced to cut back. So for the parties the membership question is urgent as never before. They try to explain the crisis by saying that in Britain now no one wants to be a member of anything any ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... so moveable, that one can pin it down no more closely than by calling it ‘anti-establishment’. Michael Frayn may have excoriated that phrase – in his brief, brilliant introduction to the published text, Beyond the Fringe, in 1963 – as denoting ‘a spacious vacancy of thought’, but really, I don’t see how we can do any better. Any real ...

Word-Processing

Stephen Wall, 12 September 1991

Hidden in the Heart 
by Dan Jacobson.
Bloomsbury, 182 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 0981 6
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A Landing on the Sun 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 670 83932 9
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... she was being literal as well as figurative. A pen was what she wrote with. Dan Jacobson’s and Michael Frayn’s reliance on, respectively, a word processor and a tape recorder needn’t be put down to Post-Modern self-consciousness. Novels naturally like to keep up with the technology on which they rely, but an appeal – however disingenuous – to ...

Boys will be girls

Clive James, 1 September 1983

Footlights! A Hundred Years of Cambridge Comedy 
by Robert Hewison.
Methuen, 224 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 0 413 51150 2
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... rose into triple figures. Successively onto the scene came such butch illuminati as Miller, Michael Frayn and Peter Cook, with results that Mr Hewison obviously finds it much less uncomfortable to write about, even if it simultaneously becomes more difficult to trace the thread. These were and are real individuals, less easily subsumed into a ...

Is the particle there?

Hilary Mantel: Schrödinger in Clontarf, 7 July 2005

A Game with Sharpened Knives 
by Neil Belton.
Weidenfeld, 328 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 297 64359 2
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... and easy extrapolation. Belton is not one of them; he is as fastidious, though not so succinct, as Michael Frayn in his play Copenhagen. Heisenberg said in his memoirs that ‘science is rooted in conversations.’ He seemed to open the door, in the friendliest fashion, for the novelist and the playwright. Schrödinger’s formulation was ...

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