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A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... left behind were that it should be used in any way possible – short of falling into the hands of Michael Winner – ‘to make money for my boys’: Mark Pearce, her second husband, and Alexander, the couple’s son, born in 1983. As Edmund Gordon says towards the beginning of his biography, Carter was never so widely ...
Once a Jolly Bagman: Memoirs 
by Alistair McAlpine.
Weidenfeld, 269 pp., £20, March 1997, 9780297817376
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... become obvious that the Tories were going to lose the election? Was it that golden moment when Michael Portillo, that scourge of unnecessary public spending, announced that £60m of public money was earmarked for a new yacht for the richest woman on earth – even though Her Majesty had made it plain she did not want one? Was it this deranged belief in the ...

Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... decision worth pondering. Shadbold’s roulette and James’s chapter of accidents become poker in Gordon Williams’s lively novel Pomeroy. Up there in Dawson City, One-Eye Riley the mad gambler was asked: ‘Is it true you regard poker as a matter of life or death?’ He replied: ‘Hell, no, cards is serious.’ John Stockley Pomeroy is a West Point ...

Michael Gove recommends …

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley, 20 January 2011

The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... More important so far as his literary development is concerned was his meeting in 1917 with Eric Gordon Tombe, of whom he wrote: ‘In mental development I owe more to him than to any other person who has entered my life.’ Tombe was only four years older, a clergyman’s son who had worked as a motor mechanic in Stoke Newington; but to Wheatley he passed ...

Britain takes the biscuit

Gordon Brown and Geoff Mulgan, 25 October 1990

The Competitive Advantage of Nations 
by Michael Porter.
Macmillan, 855 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 333 51804 7
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... the average Yugoslav and why the average Scot earns less than the average English man or woman. Michael Porter’s The Competitive Advantage of Nations is audacious (or foolhardy) enough to offer an answer. Its aim is nothing less than a systematic explanation of the wealth of nations, with 52 pages of policy recommendations added on for good ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... a rampant adventure-tale of a male rogue, or rogue male, on the loose between two marriages. Mary Gordon’s Men and Angels shows a happily-married heroine struggling tenaciously, in her husband’s absence, to preserve her own integrity by defending her home and children against an intruder. Life goes on is a sequel to A Start in Life (1970 – not to be ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Michael Crichton’s Revenge, 4 January 2007

... to an English-language bookshop – there’s even one at the railway station – to buy a copy of Michael Crichton’s new novel, Next (HarperCollins, £17.99). But why go to the trouble of spending the whole of Wednesday morning buying a book, when I could just download it now, on Tuesday evening? Diesel eBooks were offering Next in three formats: I plumped ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington, 30 November 2006

State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... The American Military Adventure in Iraq (the most bearable of these excruciating war volumes), Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor’s Cobra II, George Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate, Peter Galbraith’s The End of Iraq, and now Woodward: these books and many others present their versions of what went wrong, aim for a culprit, and hope that a firing ...

God’s Iceberg

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 December 1986

The ‘ Titanic’: The Full Story of a Tragedy 
by Michael Davie.
Bodley Head, 244 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780370307640
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The IT Girls: Elinor Glyn and Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon 
by Meredith Etherington-Smith and Jeremy Pilcher.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11950 2
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... have been spilled’), he told them that he ‘was going up on deck to see the fun’. Lucy Duff Gordon, a fashionable dress designer, whose life, together with that of her sister Elinor Glyn, is told in the second of these books, was on her way to New York with her husband, a Scotch baronet, and her secretary. She heard people running along the deck outside ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians and the Press, 26 January 2006

... of any Lib Dems, including Kennedy’s enemies and rivals, to cause havoc by speaking up. And then Michael Howard announced his intention to stand down as Conservative leader the day after the election, when there were still a few seats not declared. So any Lib Dems eager to stab Kennedy in the back would have to wait until after the Tories sorted themselves ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Little England, 24 May 2001

... for Patriotism’, Baroness Jay replied: ‘There is no Minister for Patriotism.’ Michael Wills MP has merely been asked to ‘help generate a proper discussion about what being British means in 2001’. Whenever ‘Britishness’, ‘Englishness’ or any other ‘ness’ is to be summed up, you can be sure the clichés will come jogging ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The life expectancy of a Roman emperor, 3 June 2004

... as get sacked, but it would be rash of the prime minister to wait for the electorate to sack him: Gordon Brown wouldn’t be the only disappointed person were Tony Blair to be succeeded by Michael Howard. Caracalla was succeeded by Macrinus, a co-conspirator of Martialis, the man who did the actual stabbing and was shortly ...

Point of Principle

Michael Irwin, 2 April 1981

The Country 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 159 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 575 02938 2
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The Radiant Future 
by Alexander Zinoviev, translated by Gordon Clough.
Bodley Head, 287 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 370 30219 2
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Farewell to Europe 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 0 297 77870 6
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... The Country, which is concerned with old age, death and family bereavement, is adroitly restricted to an account of four visits. The first two, at intervals of a year, are paid by Daniel Francoeur, an American writer long resident in London, to his aging parents in Rhode Island. He finds them unhappy, constrained by repressed hostility and old disappointments ...

Reproaches from the Past

Peter Clarke: Gordon Brown, 1 April 2004

The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown 
by William Keegan.
Wiley, 356 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 470 84697 6
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... Standing in such a tradition, the title chosen by William Keegan, The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown, is entitled to its whimsical flourish, and he duly begins with a monitory epigraph from Titian’s Allegory of Prudence: ‘The Present does well to profit from the Past, lest Future conduct go astray.’ A respected financial journalist with ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... a hair’s breadth of becoming deputy leader of the Party. Opinions differ, but a Party led by Michael Foot and Benn would probably have seen a mass defection of MPs to the SDP. As it was, Benn’s failure paved the way for Neil Kinnock’s purge of the Militant Left, as well as the crucial policy switch from renationalisation of key industries to ...

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