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Planes, Trains and SUVs

Jonathan Raban: James Meek, 7 February 2008

We Are Now Beginning Our Descent 
by James Meek.
Canongate, 295 pp., £16.99, February 2008, 978 1 84195 988 7
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... Our Descent soon turns into a sexual quest with strong mythological overtones. When Astrid Walsh, an American magazine writer, shows up on the fringe of the tribe and asks if she can use Kellas’s satphone, the closely observed, realistic surface of the novel yields to a more elevated style of suggestive unrealism. The pair meet by starlight. The ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... form as we once knew and loved it. Wasn’t Humphrey Bogart as Roy ‘Mad Dog’ Earle, in Raoul Walsh’s film of W.R. Burnett’s High Sierra, undone by a barking mutt on the mountainside? How else could these gnarled recidivists signal their hearts of gold, if not by palling up to an orphan kid or stroking a shaggy pooch? Sallis belongs, as I discovered ...

Still Reeling from My Loss

Andrew O’Hagan: Lulu & Co, 2 January 2003

I Don't Want to Fight 
by Lulu.
Time Warner, 326 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 0 316 86169 3
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by Pamela Stephenson.
HarperCollins, 400 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 00 711092 8
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Just for the Record 
by Geri Halliwell.
Ebury, 221 pp., £17.99, September 2002, 0 09 188655 4
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Learning to Fly 
by Victoria Beckham.
Penguin, 528 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 0 14 100394 4
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Right from the Start 
by Gareth Gates.
Virgin, 80 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 1 85227 914 1
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by Ulrika Jonsson.
Sidgwick, 417 pp., £16.99, October 2002, 0 283 07367 5
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... speak every day for a Britain that is perfectly in love with its cellphone democracy. This is William Cobbett’s country no more, so let us sling a troubled thought among the Christmas books. The sufferings of a celebrity, despite the enjoyments, despite the privilege, are supposed to embody the sufferings of us all. They remind us how we are all the ...

The Terrifying Vrooom

Colin Burrow: Empsonising, 15 July 2021

Some Versions of Pastoral 
by William Empson, edited by Seamus Perry.
Oxford, 496 pp., £80, November 2020, 978 0 19 965966 1
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The Structure of Complex Words 
by William Empson, edited by Helen Thaventhiran and Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 672 pp., £95, November 2020, 978 0 19 871343 2
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... In​ Jill Paton Walsh’s novel Goldengrove (1972), set shortly after the Second World War, the adolescent heroine, Madge, goes on holiday to Cornwall. She falls a little in love with a professor of English literature who has been blinded in action, and reads aloud to him. One of the passages he has her recite is an analysis of Donne’s ‘A Valediction: Of Weeping’:Weep me not dead means: ‘do not make me cry myself to death; do not kill me with the sight of your tears; do not cry for me as for a man already dead, when, in fact, I am in your arms,’ and, with a different sort of feeling, ‘do not exert your power over the sea so as to make it drown me by sympathetic magic’; there is a conscious neatness in the ingenuity of the phrasing, perhaps because the same idea is being repeated, which brings out the change of tone in this verse ...

Using so Little

Sean Wilsey: Life on a Skateboard, 19 June 2003

... lawless, or luckless – written by skaters with names like Erik Tunafish, Kenny ‘Gator Bait’ Walsh, Bug, Chunk, Skinard, Duckie, Schmoe or, frequently, Incarcerated Skater. Skaters were lonely and harassed and unsupervised and rolling around all over America with nobody but each other to talk to. Some of the best moments in Thrasher were when it forgot ...

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