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Every Slightest Pebble

Clarence Brown, 25 May 1995

The Akhmatova Journals. Vol. I: 1938-1941 
by Lydia Chukovskaya, translated by Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova.
Harvill, 310 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 00 216391 8
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Remembering Anna Akhmatova 
by Anatoly Nayman, translated by Wendy Rosslyn.
Halban, 240 pp., £18, June 1991, 9781870015417
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Anna Akhmatova and Her Circle 
edited by Konstantin Polivanov, translated by Patricia Beriozkina.
Arkansas, 281 pp., $32, January 1994, 1 55728 308 7
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Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet 
by Roberta Reeder.
Allison and Busby, 592 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 85031 998 6
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Women’s Works in Stalin’s Time: On Lidia Chukovskaia and Nadezhda Mandelstam 
by Beth Holmgren.
Indiana, 225 pp., £25, September 1993, 0 253 33860 3
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... In the late Fifties, in the dusty warren of a Manhattan apartment, the composer Artur Sergeevich Lourié answered my questions about his friend Osip Mandelstam, whom he plausibly deemed to have been by that time irretrievably forgotten. I had turned up at his door out of the blue, led there by an article he had published in an émigré journal. He could not decide which was the more astonishing: intricate questions about a vanished poet, or the questioner himself, a young American speaking army-taught Russian: ‘Someone,’ he said, seeing me off, ‘should write about you ...

Blame it on the boogie

Andrew O’Hagan: In Pursuit of Michael Jackson, 6 July 2006

On Michael Jackson 
by Margo Jefferson.
Pantheon, 146 pp., $20, January 2006, 0 375 42326 5
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... is all of the showbusiness spectacles we have ever known rolled into one: Barnum & Bailey to James Brown, Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Temple, and David Blaine, and Peter Pan, all the way back to Neverland. We want to see him as pop’s greatest distortion of human nature, which he may be, but isn’t he also the most interesting person on the ...

Wolves in the Drawing Room

Neal Ascherson: The SNP, 2 June 2011

... if any of its best and brightest – Robin Cook, Douglas Alexander, Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, even John Smith – had stayed in Scotland to lead the party and the devolved government at Holyrood? Only Donald Dewar took the train back north and became first minister of Scotland in 1999. It would be good to think that John Smith, who fought so hard ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... washing sharing the basement, a desolate and grilling public garden, and the sea full of floating brown pennies of oil. This short passage shows a spontaneous poetic flair rarely equalled in Forster’s fiction, or elsewhere in the diaries: ‘those trudging squares and triangles’, both exact and subjective, the complex social irony of the ‘natives ...

The End of Labour?

Colin Kidd, 8 March 2012

... seat out of Labour’s grip. The defeat, according to a contemporary Nationalist observer, Oliver Brown, sent a shiver along the Labour benches ‘looking for a spine to run up’. The Scottish Labour vote was managed at this point by Willie Ross, who was secretary of state for Scotland between 1964 and 1970, and again from 1974 until the retirement of his ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... bike slips out of my hands and slides to the floor, in the process tearing a piece out of my leg. Wendy, the nice nurse at the practice, tells me I should try and keep the dressing dry. The result is that when in the evening I have my bath I look not unlike Marat, except that whereas Marat has his arm hanging over the side of the bath, I have my leg. 14 ...

The Question of U

Ian Penman: Prince, 20 June 2019

Prince: Life and Times 
by Jason Draper.
Chartwell, 216 pp., £15.99, February 2017, 978 0 7858 3497 7
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The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince 
by Mayte Garcia.
Trapeze, 304 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4091 7121 8
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... and funny-ha-ha video for ‘Kiss’, Prince poses as the sex object while a seated Wendy (of the Revolution) steers the song. Fully clothed, amused, powerfully sexy in her own discreet way, Wendy wears the pants, raising a sceptical eyebrow at one point, while a half-naked Prince carries the ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... and a reproduced Camel cigarette packet: ‘from use’. The full works – chocolate-brown cloth, Brainard dustwrapper, author photo (flat cap, jeans, sandals, thumbs-hooked-in-belt) – yours for £1.50. Shamefully good value. You owed it to the poet to make a decent fist of reading the thing. Now, in an era of cut-throat discounts, peel-away ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... group, now at the top of the New York avant-garde art world,’ Melvyn Bragg explains, blunt brown sideburns toning nicely with his blunt brown tie. A bit later he addresses Acker directly. ‘You talk in your books about doing away with meaning. What do you mean by that, more precisely?’ She smiles.For this ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... football pitches, changing rooms erected to replace shower blocks opened in the dark ages by Wendy Richard of EastEnders. Back in the 1820s Gas Company funds were misappropriated, illegal payments made to council officials and stock accounts falsified. Now, in more enlightened times, when bureaucratic malpractice is exposed and celebrated every ...

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