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Enid’s Scars

Peter McDonald, 23 June 1988

You must remember this 
by Joyce Carol Oates.
Macmillan, 436 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 333 46182 7
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A Case of Knives 
by Candia McWilliam.
Bloomsbury, 266 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 7475 0074 6
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Burning your own 
by Glenn Patterson.
Chatto, 249 pp., £11.95, March 1988, 0 7011 3291 4
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... The title of Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel is well-chosen, being itself both a fragment of popular culture (‘As time goes by’ seems to be lodged there pretty firmly by now) and an imperative which forces readers towards a confrontation with the very past to which it belongs. Throughout the book, this double-take makes itself felt: the industrial USA of the Fifties is insistently present in Oates’s story of a family going through a more than averagely traumatic 12 years, but present also, beneath the surface, is an awareness of the problematic status of the events as memory, as parts of a history that can continue to influence, or infect, the present ...

Between Kisses

Peter McDonald, 1 October 1987

The Propheteers 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 306 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14878 6
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A Summer Affair 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 263 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7011 3140 3
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People For Lunch 
by Georgina Hammick.
Methuen, 191 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 413 14900 5
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... A line running with its own logic from the Biblical wilderness to the theme-park; a link between motel-chains, breakfast cereals, Walt Disney and cryonic freezing: connections of this kind are impossibly eccentric, demonstrable only in the special surroundings of highly-coloured fiction provided by Max Apple’s The Propheteers, which makes them into the threads of a very uncomfortable web indeed, one in which post-war American society is caricatured with remorseless precision, its values inflated into religious terms that seem ludicrous only at first ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice, 7 February 2008

Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... a book of unrevised lectures called Varieties of Parable and a Collected Poems. Even now, with Peter McDonald’s intelligently re-edited Collected, we do not have all the MacNeice we could ask for. As McDonald points out, a Complete Poems would be considerably larger than the 600-odd pages of verse plus seven ...

Accidents of Priority

John Redmond, 22 August 1996

Can You Hear, Bird 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £9.95, February 1996, 9781857542240
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The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 
by Jorie Graham.
Carcanet, 220 pp., £12.95, March 1996, 1 85754 225 8
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Selected Poems 
by Barbara Guest.
Carcanet, 220 pp., £12.95, May 1996, 1 85754 158 8
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Selected Poems 1976-1996 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 126 pp., £9.99, March 1996, 0 19 283223 9
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Adam’s Dream 
by Peter McDonald.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1996, 1 85224 333 3
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... is a God, the God of the Jews, of Moses and Elias, But this is not the time to speak of him. Peter McDonald has the misfortune of being introduced as one of the most promising of the younger generation of Northern Irish poets. It is of course another accident of priority that the work of any young Northern Irish poet now writing is going to invite ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 1 June 2016

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... and proudly conventional writers and critics, such as Ruth Padel, Fiona Sampson, Andrew Motion and Peter McDonald, have found positive things to say. Last year Prynne received a Society of Authors award. The publication of the collected Poems in 1999, an ever fattening volume updated in 2005 and again last year, each time gathering in new collections and ...

Stony Ground

Peter D. McDonald: J.M. Coetzee, 20 October 2005

J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event 
by Derek Attridge.
Chicago, 225 pp., £13.50, May 2005, 0 226 03117 9
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Slow Man 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 265 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 436 20611 0
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... In a respectful but chary review of The Life and Times of Michael K (1983) in the New York Review of Books, Nadine Gordimer wrote about J.M. Coetzee’s ‘conscious choice’ of allegory as a literary mode in his first three novels. The reasons for this, she speculated, were temperamental: It seemed he did so out of a kind of opposing desire to hold himself clear of events and their daily, grubby, tragic consequences in which, like everyone else living in South Africa, he is up to the neck, and about which he had an inner compulsion to write ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... Peter Lilley, an international fraud investigator and no relation of the Tory MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has written a book called Dirty Dealing: The Untold Truth about Global Money Laundering (Kogan Page, £16.99). Before outlining how best to prevent the crime, he explains the various ways to go about committing it, such as opening an anonymous Austrian Sparbuch – savings book – of which there are estimated to be twenty-six million in existence (Austria, for the record, has a population of just over eight million ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Hating Football, 27 June 2002

... was football-daft, and he’d sooner you packed in Communion than afternoon football. But Mark McDonald – my fellow cissy – and I broke his spirit after he gave us new yellow strips to try on. We absconded from the training session and stretched the shirts over our knees, all the better to roll down Toad Hill in one round movement before dousing the ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... and parley, avoiding outright confrontation, might strike some readers as selling his art short: Peter McDonald remarks astringently that Heaney writes the prose of ‘a man whom the audience always applauds’. Yet what is wrong with a diplomatic poetry, an art that strives for fluent patience, for ways to live amid rivals’ quarrels – not only the ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Mrs Robinson Repents, 28 January 2010

... struck him as ‘bizarre’, in that the interview took place on the day her husband, Peter Robinson, went to Downing Street to accept the role of First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly ‘and there really was a sense that Iris had stolen his thunder’. Black, who was hired as her political adviser, does not say when he decided to ...

Diary

Nick Laird: Ulster Revisited, 28 July 2011

... a paramilitary movement established by unionists in 1986 after the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Peter Robinson, now first minister of Northern Ireland, was photographed wearing the loyalist paramilitary regalia of red beret and military fatigues, and at a rally in Enniskillen announced that ‘thousands have already joined the movement and the task of ...

Diary

Susan McKay: Breakdown in Power-Sharing, 8 March 2018

... guise of equality’. Matters were not calmed by the decision of Adams’s successor, Mary Lou McDonald, to conclude her first speech as president to the party’s Ard Fheis with: ‘Up the republic! Up the rebels! Tiocfaidh ár lá!’ This, translated as ‘Our day will come,’ was the rallying cry of the IRA. Poetry helped, once or twice. When ...

As seen on TV

Keith Kyle, 26 September 1991

From the House of War 
by John Simpson.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 09 175034 2
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In the Eye of the Storm 
by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti.
Bloomsbury, 342 pp., £16.99, August 1991, 0 7475 1050 4
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... back); capable of losing his cool; and with some undefined grievance against the Sixties – both Peter Arnett of CNN and the American Chargé d’Affaires, Joe Weston, are for ever condemned as being redolent of that era. It goes without saying that he is courageous in the best traditions of the war correspondent and is also competitive. He cannot forbear to ...

The Parliamentary Peloton

Peter Mair: Money and Politics, 25 February 2010

A Very British Revolution: The Expenses Scandal and How to Save Our Democracy 
by Martin Bell.
Icon, 246 pp., £11.99, October 2009, 978 1 84831 096 4
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... between Russia and Germany to build a $5 billion pipeline. In Ireland, as documented by Frank McDonald and Kathy Sheridan in their recent bestseller about property developers,* the building industry and Fianna Fáil have spent decades in a mutually beneficial partnership. Highly favourable tax deals benefited developers in the boom years, and at the local ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reader 
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... that, during his lifetime, his articles were dispersed. It’s only now, with the publication of Peter McDonald’s and Michael Suarez’s thoughtful edition of his selected essays, that readers can gain some sense of his reach. McKenzie read the analytical bibliography in which he’d been trained as the long-lost twin of New Criticism: both treated ...

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