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At the Barbican

Peter Campbell: Martin Parr, 4 April 2002

Martin Parr 
by Val Williams.
Phaidon, 354 pp., £45, February 2002, 0 7148 3990 6
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... snapshots. It is a progress which has been advanced by technology and marked by transgression. Val Williams’s exemplary text allows one to follow both Parr’s technical path and his move from being an implicitly engaged, sympathetic, amused commentator to one whose camera, like a roving spotlight, lets the audience wonder uneasily how the world can ...

St Jude’s Playwright

Michael Church, 5 September 1985

The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams 
by Donald Spoto.
Bodley Head, 409 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 370 30847 6
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Tennessee Williams on File 
by Catherine Arnott.
Methuen, 80 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 413 58550 6
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... the occasion for either morbidity or schmaltz. The slow but sure revival of interest in Tennessee Williams – this summer Harold Pinter directing Sweet Bird of Youth, and brilliantly – suggests a general awareness that there may currently be a hole where our theatre’s heart should be. That declaration of intent comes, not in one of ...

Prolonging her absence

Danny Karlin, 8 March 1990

The Wimbledon Poisoner 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 307 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 571 14242 7
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The Other Occupant 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 0 333 52509 4
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Possession 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 511 pp., £13.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3260 4
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... Henry Farr is – or, as it turns out, is not – the ‘Wimbledon Poisoner’ of Nigel Williams’s title. He is a Pooterish solicitor, middling and muddling his way through life; the plot concerns his repeated farcical failure to murder his awful wife, bumping off (he thinks) other innocent people instead. Then, as the plot unravels and a real poisoner shows his hand, Henry discovers that his wife is not so awful after all ...

Punch-up at the Poetry Reading

Joanna Kavenna: Dorothy Porter’s verse novel, 7 May 1998

The Monkey's Mask 
by Dorothy Porter.
Serpent’s Tail, 264 pp., £9.99, October 1997, 1 85242 549 0
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... and exclusion has made the genre ripe for feminist and lesbian reworking. Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Elizabeth George, Mary Wings and Katherine Forrest have re-created the detective as a single or Sapphic thirty-something woman, brandishing a handgun. The shape-shifting and self-suppression which most women, and especially lesbian women, perform ...

Nothing for Ever and Ever

Frank Kermode: Housman’s Pleasures, 5 July 2007

The Letters of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 1228 pp., £180, March 2007, 978 0 19 818496 6
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... all offers of payment but insisted on the observance of the ban on omission or alteration; Vaughan Williams transgressed, and Housman seems never to have forgiven him. Repeated requests from anthologists for poems from A Shropshire Lad were turned down flat. A great many of these letters say ‘no’, very briefly, in one way or another; the shortest of them ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... author to a little thing he was hosting. Who was there? Oh, you know, the usual crew: Tennessee Williams, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and Hemingway’s great chum, the one he called ‘the Kraut’: Marlene Dietrich. ‘You could have knocked me over with a pin,’ Styron wrote to his aunt Edith, ‘when Leo took me over to meet Dietrich and she took ...

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