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Toolkit for Tinkerers

Colin Burrow: The Sonnet, 24 June 2010

The Art of the Sonnet 
by Stephanie Burt and David Mikics.
Harvard, 451 pp., £25.95, May 2010, 978 0 674 04814 0
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... did, as well as more recent experimenters such as Hopkins, John Berryman or the sub-Prynnean Tony Lopez. Donne and Hopkins used sonnets as vehicles for religious anguish because it’s so easy to suggest that they’re buckling under pressure, that the spirit will not run true to the form, or to God. The sonnet has a structure that invites mild ...

The Power of Sunshine

Alexander Cockburn, 10 January 1991

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 462 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 86091 303 1
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... and was hired on arrival by the patron of the Los Angeles Times, Colonel (later General) Harrison Gray Otis. Lummis helped to forge the booster image described by Kevin Starr in his book Inventing the dream: ‘a mélange of mission myth (originating in Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona), obsession with climate, political conservatism (symbolised in the open ...

You’ll Love the Way It Makes You Feel

Mark Greif: ‘Mad Men’, 23 October 2008

Mad Men: Season One 
Lionsgate Home Entertainment, £29.99, October 2008Show More
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... detractors, who left us such cautionary documents as The Hidden Persuaders and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (whose eponymous antihero worked in PR). Emerging stars like David Ogilvy and Norman B. Norman publicised the ad man’s mystique of deep creative force, genius and restraint, as an up-to-date alternative to the old market barker’s ...

Ruck in the Carpet

Glen Newey: Political Morality, 9 July 2009

Philosophy and Real Politics 
by Raymond Geuss.
Princeton, 116 pp., £11.95, October 2008, 978 0 691 13788 9
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... the gift of the gab who sells the plebs down the river in Julius Caesar; similarly, the role of ‘Tony Blair’, played by the actor of the same name. Writing in Die Zeit (14 June 2007), Geuss cited Blair’s catch-all answer to intelligence and military advisers who knew far more about the situation on the ground in Iraq than he did: ‘But Saddam is ...

Do you like him?

Ian Jack: Ken Livingstone, 10 May 2012

You Can’t Say That: Memoirs 
by Ken Livingstone.
Faber, 710 pp., £9.99, April 2012, 978 0 571 28041 4
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... were never given an address, but their accents suggested London or its suburbs, perhaps close to Tony Hancock’s place in East Cheam, definitely somewhere below the middle of the social scale, a place where couples necked in front parlours and publicans called ‘Time, gentlemen, please,’ but not so far down as to be picturesque and identifiable and ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... the dread of being abandoned and left alone ...    I dont envy the woman who has married Tony, if she has; she’ll have to keep the handle of a Hoover in the house. Nicholas Jenkins’s note tells us that ‘ “Tony” has not been identified,’ which is probably just as well. Another letter from three months ...


Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine, 30 July 1998

... The Gregory clause was ‘a charter for land clearance and consolidation’, according to Peter Gray. ‘The substantial rise in evictions after 1847 was attributed largely to its introduction,’ according to Christine Kinealy. For the tenants whose potato crop had failed and whose families were starving, the Gregory clause was a nightmare. As a rule, not ...

Places Never Explained

Colm Tóibín: Anthony Hecht, 8 August 2013

The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht 
edited by Jonathan Post.
Johns Hopkins, 365 pp., £18, November 2012, 978 1 4214 0730 2
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... be fucked if I can.’ Back man: ‘Well, you’ll be fucked if you can’t.’ End – Tony. He might have meant ‘I’ll be fucked if you can’t.’ The letters suggest that Hecht was a normal, almost jolly boy. This may have been a performance, and perhaps the memories described in ‘Apprehensions’ are closer to what mattered: We were ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... writing. Some examples: ‘She had a face like an upturned canoe,’ said by the actor Charles Gray at breakfast in Dundee (though of whom I can’t remember). A. I’ve been salmon fishing. B. It’s not the season. A. No. I thought I’d take the blighters by surprise. ‘Here we are. Fat Pig One and Fat Pig Two.’ Said by my mother when she and ...

Festival of Punishment

Thomas Laqueur: On Death Row, 5 October 2000

Proximity to Death 
by William McFeely.
Norton, 206 pp., £17.95, January 2000, 0 393 04819 5
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Death Row: The Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment 
edited by Bonnie Bobit.
Bobit, 311 pp., $24.95, September 1999, 0 9624857 6 4
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... a possible Constitutional challenge. In this case, the plan did not work. The judge threw out Tony Amadeo’s murder conviction: ‘Y’all are wasting your time,’ he told the prosecutor, citing this blatant effort by the jury commissioners to under-represent blacks while avoiding a prima facie violation of relevant case law. Manifestly, this is not an ...

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