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The Pilot in Winter

Tobias Hill, 13 November 1997

... In a remote coastal town to the south-west of Corinth is the grave-site of Norman MacKay. In accordance with Greek Christian Orthodoxy, his bones have been dug up, washed with wine and laid in a box the length of his thigh-bone. The townspeople believe MacKay dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima from the B29 ‘Enola Gay’ on the morning of 6 August 1945 ...

A Girl’s Best Friend

Thomas Jones: Tobias Hill, 21 August 2003

The Cryptographer 
by Tobias Hill.
Faber, 263 pp., £12, August 2003, 0 571 21836 9
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... one molecule thick): why shouldn’t it be almost as combustible as coal? I learned this fact from Tobias Hill’s second novel, The Love of Stones (2001), which is a mine of such information. Hill has done his homework, and for those who like this sort of thing, there’s plenty to be got out of the novel. At the ...

Bad Dads

Zachary Leader, 6 April 1995

In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of a Lost War 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 210 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1919 6
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Tallien: A Brief Romance 
by Frederic Tuten.
Marion Boyars, 152 pp., £9.95, November 1994, 0 7145 2990 7
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Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story 
by Max Apple.
Little, Brown, 241 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 316 91241 7
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... Personal identity, according to Locke, is a creation of memory. The American writer Tobias Wolff has already published one volume of memoirs. Now, at the age of 49, he has produced a second. Who can blame him? His father was a conman and impostor: Arthur Samuels Wolff, aka Arthur Saunders Wolff III, aka Saunders Answell-Wolff III, the ‘Duke’ of Tobias’s brother Geoffrey’s memoir, The Duke of Deception (1979 ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... of some nursery tale, or a fiction about a writer writing the fiction you are reading,’ Tobias Wolff confessed in his 1993 introduction to the Picador Book of Contemporary American Stories. Writing fiction about a writer who is writing the fiction we are reading, Wolff would have us understand, is obscene. A writer reaching out from behind the ...

Exact Walking

Christopher Hill, 19 June 1980

Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 
by R.T. Kendall.
Oxford, 252 pp., £12.50, February 1980, 0 19 826716 9
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... divines. Equally important were the antinomians who had remained in England – John Eaton, Tobias Crisp and Henry Denne, whom Kendall discusses, and a host of others, mainly lower-class radicals, who were terrifying the respectable godly in the 1640s. Men like Lawrence Clarkson and Abiezer Coppe were already preaching pretty fundamental antinomian ...

Hero as Hero

Tobias Gregory: Milton’s Terrorist, 6 March 2008

Why Milton Matters: A New Preface to His Writings 
by Joseph Wittreich.
Palgrave, 253 pp., £37.99, March 2008, 978 1 4039 7229 3
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... we know he didn’t regularly attend a church. It is fair enough to describe him, as Christopher Hill did, as a radical Protestant heretic; but while Milton’s heterodoxy has become more widely acknowledged among scholars in recent years, there is still a good deal of confusion as to what it does and does not mean. ‘Orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’, as the ...

By All Possible Art

Tobias Gregory: George Herbert, 18 December 2014

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert 
by John Drury.
Penguin, 396 pp., £9.99, April 2014, 978 0 14 104340 1
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... Herbert has influenced poets from Henry Vaughan and Richard Crashaw to Dylan Thomas and Geoffrey Hill. And not only poets; reading Herbert has made converts, even in modern times. While reciting ‘Love (III)’, the famous last poem in The Temple, Simone Weil felt that ‘Christ himself descended and took possession of me.’ A recent series of Guardian ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... Penny Feathers, retired from the Foreign Office and attempting to write topical thrillers; Tobias Benedict, an actor; and Vanessa Shaw, a bluestocking academic. The writers in contention (if only in their own minds) include Katherine Burns, a siren who can’t help using men; Sam Black, a tortured soul for whom writing is a salving agony; and ...

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