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You call that a breakfast?

Adam Phillips, 17 February 2000

Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters 
by Ted Cohen.
Chicago, 99 pp., £10.50, November 1999, 0 226 11230 6
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... has to believe that there is something we would rather do than laugh. One of the many triumphs of Ted Cohen’s Jokes – apart from the not incidental fact that the jokes are so good that he doesn’t bother to compete with them – is that it never tries to sound more profound than the jokes it tells. Cohen’s ...


James Harkin: Tweet for the CIA!, 2 December 2010

Death to the Dictator! Witnessing Iran’s Election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic 
by Afsaneh Moqadam.
Bodley Head, 134 pp., £10.99, May 2010, 978 1 84792 146 8
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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom 
by Evgeny Morozov.
Allen Lane, 408 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84614 353 3
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Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran 
by Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84511 607 1
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... as important. The trip’s architect was a 27-year-old State Department wunderkind called Jared Cohen. He shepherded the techies around Baghdad and explained the thinking behind the whole venture at a video-link press conference with journalists back in Washington: You know, historically, we’ve thought about new technology as a tool primarily for ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Running Out of Time, 8 January 2015

... Adventures in Going Nowhere (Simon and Schuster, £7.99), the book version of his 15-minute TED talk on, well, how to do nothing at all. The book has more than seventy pages, though some of them are pictures of sunsets and dawns over water. Iyer’s guru was Leonard Cohen, now a friend, after he went to visit him in ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... late 1962, after she’d torn the phoneline out of the wall during an argument with her husband, Ted Hughes, and he had left her and their two infant children in Devon, there were only letters. ‘I am fine,’ she wrote to her mother in America. ‘Just need a settled nanny & to rest & write & letters. I love & live for letters.’ Sylvia Plath and ...

Waiting for the Poetry

Ange Mlinko: Was Adrienne Rich a poet?, 15 July 2021

The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography 
by Hilary Holladay.
Doubleday, 416 pp., £25, November 2020, 978 0 385 54150 3
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Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 345 pp., £13.99, May, 978 0 393 54142 7
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... his daughter when Adrienne chose to marry another man with the initial A: Alfred Conrad (formerly Cohen) in 1953. In 1925, Arnold married the Episcopal Helen Jones from Atlanta and designed a long-sleeved black crêpe dress for her to wear as a uniform. Helen gave up her concert career, although she continued to play the piano every day. Holladay sees an ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... rolled, like stones, and he died’) I thought sadder than anything in Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen. I was also interested in Thomas Kinsella’s ‘Another September’, because I knew the house just outside Enniscorthy where it was set and I had met the poet’s wife, whose sleeping figure was evoked in the poem. What was most interesting about ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich, 2 August 2018

... G.W. and Jeb Bush declined to support Trump against Clinton in 2016, and the Tea Party favourite Ted Cruz postponed his endorsement until the eleventh hour, congressional Republicans have settled on a policy of co-operation for the sake of party political advantage. Should one apply the word ‘collaborator’ to such people? The word has a certain ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... How much did Alex Haley protect Malcolm X when he ghosted his autobiography? To what extent did Ted Sorensen create the verbal manner of John F. Kennedy when he wrote Profiles in Courage, a book for which the future president won the Pulitzer Prize? And are the science fiction stories H.P. Lovecraft ghosted for Harry Houdini not the best things he ever ...

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