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What he meant by happiness

Patricia Beer, 11 June 1992

The Wreck of the Deutschland 
by Sean Street.
Souvenir, 208 pp., £15.99, March 1992, 0 285 63051 2
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Hopkins: A Literary Biography 
by Norman White.
Oxford, 531 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 19 812099 0
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... of the Deutschland’ was almost certainly not uttered by Sister Henrica Fassbaender. But in fact Sean Street’s book The Wreck of the Deutschland, which makes much of this incident, is engrossing from start to finish. It has the further appeal of sounding sympathetic. The author’s motivation throughout the fifteen years he devoted to assembling and ...

Some of them can read

Sean Wilsey: Rats!, 17 March 2005

Rats: A Year with New York’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants 
by Robert Sullivan.
Granta, 242 pp., £12.99, January 2005, 1 86207 761 4
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... in New York, I’ve collected a few rat stories. My friend Cressida, who lives uptown on 108th Street and wears open-toed shoes in the summer, always walks home in the middle of the street on trash collection days, to avoid the rats that dash back and forth across the sidewalk, running like commuters from their basement ...

In Regent Street

Peter Campbell: A Mile of Style, 10 May 2007

... façades (or, if you like, enlivens them). A Mile of Style: 180 Years of Luxury Shopping on Regent Street at the Guildhall Art Gallery until 30 June covers both buildings and shopping. It illustrates an awkward relationship. Architecturally, Regent Street has changed its appearance in a wholesale way only once. It was ...

You, You, You, You, You, You, and Mom

Curtis Sittenfeld: Sean Wilsey’s memoir, 1 December 2005

Oh the Glory of It All 
by Sean Wilsey.
Viking, 482 pp., £14.99, September 2005, 0 670 91601 3
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... Sean Wilsey’s father, Al, was orphaned as a teenager, dropped out of college, and made a fortune in dairy, real estate and other business ventures. Over fifty when Sean was born, Al flew a helicopter, charmed women and inspired in his son an apparently unquenchable desire for approval ...

The Greeter

Sean Wilsey: With Cantor Fitzgerald, 19 September 2002

... each other?’ ‘We met in college, through a mutual friend I knew in high school. Yeah, man, Sean – that was his name.’ He shook his head and smiled. ‘He was a total derelict.’ Pause. ‘What’s crazy is that he’s got an identical twin and I don’t think anyone here knows about that. He’s just like him. And he’s coming out here ...

Nora Barnacle: Pictor Ignotus

Sean O’Faolain, 2 August 1984

... Wamps wag once said of him that when he comes shambling along to the club the very dogs in the street stop smelling one another and bow to him. And then, that Olympian name! Removed from fame by a bare letter. Before the poet died many a Wamp must have felt a small thrill of pride at some country cousin’s question: ‘The poet?’ Not that Lennox ever ...

Veni, Vidi, Video

Sean Maguire, 21 February 1991

... taken over the dustbins in daylight; dogs ran carelessly across roads and fought over scraps at street corners. The refuse was uncollected and the sewage pipes unmended. That night I gagged and choked in the street as the city filled with a rotten sulphurous cloud. A down-river petrol refinery was malfunctioning: it ...


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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... for something to pass the hours over a long flight to Jakarta. ‘Eric Lustbader?’ suggested Sean, and I shook my head. I’d seen Michael Herr sending dispatches. The hours flew by. The Beach is studded with non-cinematic references to popular culture of the same Eighties vintage: Atari and Nintendo video games, Airfix models, Tintin and Asterix, David ...


Sean Maguire: In Sarajevo, 10 September 1992

... through small windows into basement living-quarters where pale children who haven’t run down the street in months sit drawing pictures of Bosnian Army soldiers. Ancic is a historian. He was very proud of his small book-crammed study and apologised for the fact that we had to clamber through the rubble of his mortar-wrecked apartment to get to it. As we stood ...


Sean Maguire: In Sarajevo, 28 January 1993

... rattle of machine-gun fire evaporates in unlocatable confusion and unless you happen to be in the street where a grenade lands it might as well be an event in another war. The shelling can be both fiercely local and exasperatingly distant. In Otes we found the epicentre of the bombardment that was rumbling through the city. I felt like a trench rat that had ...

Using so Little

Sean Wilsey: Life on a Skateboard, 19 June 2003

... paved geometry, but rolling underneath. The steepest of these crests is in the middle of Filbert Street between Hyde and Leavenworth. The roadway mid-block seems to disappear, like an incomplete section of elevated freeway. It looks as if the street is dangling nine hundred feet in the air. When you drive a car up to the ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... matter, seem a strange irrelevance. On a busy day it is easy to go into the GPO in O’Connell Street without a single thought for MacDonagh and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse, or without remembering for a second that Samuel Beckett once asked his friend Con Leventhal to betake himself ‘to the Dublin Post Office and measure the height of the ground to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Milk’ , 1 January 2009

... Gus Van Sant’s new film, Milk, is thoughtful, patient, funny and touching, and both Sean Penn and James Franco should get Oscars, but it doesn’t answer the questions any biopic raises for me: what’s it for and why now? Or perhaps it does have the answers, but we have to do our own digging for them. Harvey Milk was an elected official of the city of San Francisco, said to be the first openly gay man to hold public office in the United States ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tree of Life’, 28 July 2011

The Tree of Life 
directed by Terrence Malick.
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... pretty bad too. The date seems to be the present, there are glassy skyscrapers everywhere, and Sean Penn seems to be a mid-career architect. We can’t be sure of this because he doesn’t do anything, just sits in meetings thinking about his murderous Oedipal days as a boy, and occasionally wandering through mental landscapes represented by deserts and ...

From the Dialysis Ward

Hugo Williams, 24 January 2013

... story. A Game of Dialysis The home team appears in a blue strip, while the visitors keep on their street clothes. We find our positions from the file with our name on it placed beside our bed. Now all we can do is wait for the opposition to make a move. We don’t like our chances. The action commences with the home team wandering about, or making a tour of ...

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