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Smoked Out

McKenzie Funk: Travels in the Apocalypse, 7 February 2019

Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future 
by Edward Struzik.
Island Press, 248 pp., £22.99, October 2017, 978 1 61091 818 3
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Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change 
by Ashley Dawson.
Verso, 384 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 1 78478 036 4
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Seeds on Ice: Svalbard and the Global Seed Vault 
by Cary Fowler.
Prospecta, 160 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 1 63226 057 4
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Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security 
by Todd Miller.
City Lights, 272 pp., £7.99, September 2017, 978 0 87286 715 4
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... you can forgive me for having my suspicions. It was that kind of year. When​ I finally turned to Todd Miller’s Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security, the mid-term elections were approaching and Trump had dispatched US troops to the Mexican border to repel a caravan of hungry asylum-seekers from Central America. In the ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... the waist-line ought to be, and whether hats have wings.”’ Vogue’s first editor, Dorothy Todd, was indifferent to fashion, a tradition Brogue editors have, for the most part, happily upheld. Her tendencies lay avant-gardewards; sufficiently so that Nast got jittery and shipped her off to New York to learn publishing his way before she’d even begun ...

A Very Modern Man

Edmund Gordon: William Boyd, 8 March 2012

Waiting for Sunrise 
by William Boyd.
Bloomsbury, 368 pp., £18.99, February 2012, 978 1 4088 1774 2
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... momentous events is a familiar move in Boyd’s fiction. In The New Confessions (1987), John James Todd, a Scottish filmmaker, fights in the trenches, is pauperised by the Wall Street crash, witnesses the rise of Nazism in Berlin (where he attends parties with Fritz Lang and Thomas Mann), and arrives in Hollywood just in time to fall foul of McCarthyism. Any ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... describe Garland’s stone-butch girlfriend of the 1920s, the hatchet-faced Dorothy (‘Dody’) Todd, pioneering editor of British Vogue and a heroic if sloppy dipsomaniac, as ‘the bucket in the well of loneliness’. * Enchanting tidbits like this last are everywhere in All We Know. (It might be subtitled And Then Some.) But the author is most animated ...

On the Secret Joke at the Centre of American Identity

Michael Rogin: Ralph Ellison, 2 March 2000

Juneteenth 
by Ralph Ellison, edited by John Callaghan.
Hamish Hamilton, 368 pp., £16.99, December 1999, 0 241 14084 6
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... social freedom, the ability to change identities and create new selves, ends – from Daisy Miller to Portrait of a Lady to The Golden Bowl – in confinement. Against all the evidence, Ellison proposed that James had grasped the basis of that paradox in white freedom and black servitude. Although there may seem to be nothing amusing about this racial ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... and, of course, Peter Ackroyd’s gold-brick biography of Blake. Bennett, Ackroyd and Jonathan Miller – these were the figures who mattered most. The Christmas parcels of English literature. Enough of threadbare bohemia, paranoid narcissism, chemical tourism through the Third World. Enough of ill-disciplined prose and rootless lives. Enough of midnight ...

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