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We stop the words

David Craig: A.L. Kennedy, 16 September 1999

Everything you need 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 567 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 224 04433 8
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... arose in me. For the sake of her writing Mary has left her beloved boyfriend Jonno and the two gay men, an uncle and an ‘uncle’, who have brought her up. She is then constrained, for many months on end, not to write, and this she fulfils with next to no demurral, resistance, frustration, resentment, or any other serious qualm to speak of. What does she ...

Fade to Greige

Elaine Showalter: Mad for the Handcuff Bracelets, 4 January 2001

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion 
by Holly Brubach.
Phaidon, 232 pp., £19.95, October 1999, 9780714838878
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Fashion Today 
by Colin McDowell.
Phaidon, 511 pp., £39.95, September 2000, 0 7148 3897 7
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Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Society in Clothing 
by Diana Crane.
Chicago, 294 pp., £19, August 2000, 0 226 11798 7
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Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries 
by Avril Hart and Susan North.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 223 pp., £19.95, October 2000, 1 85177 258 8
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Don We Now Our Gay Appalrel: Gay Men’s Dress in the 20th Century 
by Shuan Cole.
Berg, 224 pp., £42.99, September 2000, 1 85973 415 4
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The Gallery of Fashion 
by Aileen Ribeiro.
Princeton, 256 pp., £60, November 2000, 0 691 05092 9
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Giorgio Armani 
by Germano Celant and Harold Koda.
Abrams, 392 pp., £40, October 2000, 0 8109 6927 0
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... itself, entertainingly and learnedly discussed in Shaun Cole’s perfectly titled Don We Now Our Gay Apparel, which shows in fascinating detail how ‘clothing has been a primary method of identification for and of gay men.’ Gay fashion signifiers have included red neckties, suede ...

The Henry James Show

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 7 January 1988

Henry James: A Life 
by Leon Edel.
Collins, 740 pp., £25, July 1987, 0 00 217870 2
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The Complete Notebooks of Henry James 
edited by Leon Edel and Lyall Powers.
Oxford, 662 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 19 503782 0
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... libidinal “investment” in himself as elder brother probably precluded identification with the gay world,’ his thesis about the brothers remains unchanged, though he also briefly applies to their relationship Feinstein’s language about ‘twinship’ and the need for ‘individuation’. A good argument could be made for calling all same-sex affection ...

Domestic Disaffection

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 10 June 1993

Dearest Beloved: The Hawthornes and the Making of the Middle-Class Family 
by Walter Herbert.
California, 351 pp., $28, April 1993, 0 520 07587 0
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... can taste the joy of Elysium, because it is a spiritual joy & they cannot perceive it. When Peter Gay wrote about the sensual life of the Victorians, he cited the Hawthornes as an exemplary pair, remarking how their talk of ‘holy’ kisses sanctified their evident delight in the satisfactions of the flesh. But Herbert is more inclined to emphasise the ...

Bags and Iron

Sylvia Lawson, 15 August 1991

Patrick White: A Life 
by David Marr.
Cape, 715 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 224 02581 3
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... little rich boy if ever there was one – in a prominent grazing family. His mother, the imperial Ruth, could have been scripted by Noel Coward. Attaining widowhood, she left to spend her last quarter-century in the London which had always been the Mecca of her late-colonial class; until then, from World War One to 1937, she was a leader of Sydney ...


George Melly, 4 April 1991

A Surrealist Life 
by John Lowe.
Collins, 262 pp., £18, February 1991, 0 00 217941 5
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... that, despite several affairs with women, and a long unrequited passion for the film actress Ruth Ford, he was mostly gay, at any rate towards the end of his life. Even so, he tended to hop in and out of the closet and to protest rather too much that, because of his mother’s hysteria on the subject, he had remained ...


A. Craig Copetas, 19 October 1995

Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 
edited by Dean A. Sullivan.
Nebraska, 312 pp., £44.50, May 1995, 0 8032 4237 9
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... took place in the ball park liberated the country from the King’s English, allowing fans to Babe-Ruth distinctive American verbs and nouns, in order to confuse and confound outsiders. Yet there were many baseball enthusiasts who viewed the game in a less jingoistic way. Cricket used a bat and ball, and so did rounders. Suggesting the link in public was ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín, 6 September 2007

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... Newell, who wanted Rupert to do a bit of work for the role of David Blakely, the guy killed by Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England. Newell wanted to see Rupert’s pain. But, as Rupert himself admits, he was ‘a riddle as an actor. On screen, I had a lot of “feeling” but I couldn’t really act. On stage I could act, but people said I ...

I whine for her like a babe

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: The Other Alice James, 25 June 2009

Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbens James 
by Susan Gunter.
Nebraska, 422 pp., £38, March 2009, 978 0 8032 1569 6
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... many of the relevant documents, including diaries to which an earlier biographer of William, Gay Wilson Allen, still had access. Some of the destruction may have been intended to conceal signs of friction in the marriage: for all his gratitude to Alice, William seems to have been an inveterate womaniser, whose lifelong habit of ‘falling in love with ...

Gotcha, Pat!

Terry Castle: Highsmith in My Head, 4 March 2021

Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Richard Bradford.
Bloomsbury, 258 pp., £20, January, 978 1 4482 1790 8
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... fright-bag. Heartbreakingly attractive in her youth (see the exquisite nude portraits made by her gay photographer friend Rolf Tietgens in the early 1940s), she looked like a sullen gargoyle by the time she died: rubbery, bloodshot, wrinkled to the point of cave-in, a calamitous experiment in DIY self-pickling. Compared with Highsmith in her seventies, her ...

Writing Absurdity

Adam Shatz: Chester Himes, 26 April 2018

Chester B. Himes: A Biography 
by Lawrence P. Jackson.
Norton, 606 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 393 06389 9
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... Invisible Man but believed in the promise of a racially inclusive American democracy. Baldwin, the gay stepson of a preacher, dreamed that romantic love between a white man and a black man might give birth to ‘another country’. Himes was black American literature’s one authentic nihilist. In his novels, solutions to what was then called the ‘Negro ...

Malfunctioning Sex Robot

Patricia Lockwood: Updike Redux, 10 October 2019

Novels, 1959-65: ‘The Poorhouse Fair’; ‘Rabbit, Run’; ‘The Centaur’; ‘Of the Farm’ 
by John Updike.
Library of America, 850 pp., £36, November 2018, 978 1 59853 581 5
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... deny his character anything. Rabbit flees from the stony immovability of Janice and takes up with Ruth Leonard, a former prostitute, and I believe that Updike’s reputation as a sex writer rests on a paragraph that comes during their first sexual encounter: When she has peeled off the stockings and tucked them, tidily rolled, into the crevice by the ...

A Use for the Stones

Jacqueline Rose: On Being Nadine Gordimer, 20 April 2006

Get a Life 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 187 pp., £16.99, November 2005, 0 7475 8175 4
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... to cure. There were, of course, whites who went much further than Gordimer did. Compared with Ruth First and Bettie du Toit, she always felt that she had not been brave enough. ‘She was so fearless,’ Gordimer wrote of Ruth First, ‘that she made one feel ashamed.’ ‘In comparison,’ she wrote in her preface to ...

Cynical Realism

Randall Kennedy: Supreme Court Biases, 21 January 2021

... in 2016 at 79 of Antonin Scalia after 29 years on the court, and the death in 2020, aged 87, of Ruth Bader Ginsburg after 27 years on the court. Both, at the time of their deaths, had been trying to hold on until a president to their liking was elected. Both failed. But the consequences of their failures diverged dramatically. Conservatives prevented Obama ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne, 21 November 1991

The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... in the field. With his going, there was only Leon Edel (who in due course encouraged his colleague Gay Wilson Allen to write William James: A Biography, which appeared in 1967). Edel was at first going to produce an edition of Henry James’s letters, but decided to delay for over twenty-five years while he put out his four biographical volumes, edited The ...

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