Books

Culture of shame

30 August 2003 12:00 am

I really thought I had made it when I went to give a talk at my old Oxford college. But…

A sane cuckoo in the nest of art

30 August 2003 12:00 am

This is a hugely impressive but somewhat exhausting book, the justification for which — from a brutally commercial viewpoint —…

Endless stint of stunts

30 August 2003 12:00 am

To be apparently always affable, a person everyone is pleased to see, ‘dear old Johnners’, as it seems was the…

Settling in Seattle

30 August 2003 12:00 am

In Waxwings Jonathan Raban triumphantly transfers the skills of an award-winning travel writer to his second novel. (The first was…

When seeing is not believing

30 August 2003 12:00 am

Waking Raphael has all the ingredients one could hope for from a thriller set in Italy: corruption, art, religion, food…

Trying to be one of the boys

30 August 2003 12:00 am

A group of bored American fighter pilots liven up their posting in cold war Germany with round-the-campfire joshing, petty squabbles,…

Finding a way to beat Catch-21

30 August 2003 12:00 am

‘You’re not losing; we don’t care for that type of play here. Just cash in your chips and collect your…

Courtiers and communists

19 July 2003 12:00 am

Courts can be a tool for understanding the present as well as the past. The behaviour patterns of courts and…

For the union dead

19 July 2003 12:00 am

‘When I die,’ Robert Lowell told me, three days before he did die, in 1977, at the age of 60,…

From one hustler to another

19 July 2003 12:00 am

Dear James, Thanks for sending me a copy of your … what shall we call it? Memoir? Novel? Anyway, I…

More respected than admired

19 July 2003 12:00 am

At the Italian seaside last week I flicked through the hotel’s copy of a translation of Gombrich’s Story of Art.…

The horror! The horror!

19 July 2003 12:00 am

I have to declare an interest. In the late 1980s, I travelled with the author of this book. After university…

A one-man Dad’s army

19 July 2003 12:00 am

It isn’t good manners for somebody to criticise a great-uncle after his death, but I know from first-hand experience that…

Captain Yossarian rides again

19 July 2003 12:00 am

Closing Time by Joseph Heller Scribner, £7.99, pp. 464 ISBN 0743239806 Fortune granted Joseph Heller’s generation, raised during the Depression,…

The best committee that ever sat

5 April 2003 12:00 am

There are two literary facts in English which it is almost impossible to examine, to see clearly. They are Shakespeare…

Master of the merry-go-round

5 April 2003 12:00 am

Sprawling, teeming with people and flooded with an almost malevolent brilliance, this book is the literary equivalent of some vast…

The heart of whiteness

5 April 2003 12:00 am

Happiness writes white, it’s said: so too, one would think, does Antarctica. How is it possible to describe an environment…

These foolish things

5 April 2003 12:00 am

Perhaps this strange volume is a bang on the nose for political correctness, but one cannot be sure. It could…

Among the goys and philistines

5 April 2003 12:00 am

For some reason, almost every time I plunge into too hot a bath I find myself thinking of my days…

The fatal Dogberry tendency

29 March 2003 12:00 am

In June 1959, A. L. Rowse was sitting on a train in the United States, writing up his journal. He…

Tales of the unexpected

29 March 2003 12:00 am

How’s this for a good opening? ‘I took out a gun and painted the bullets gold.’ If that were a…

The young, red-haired man in the cupboard

29 March 2003 12:00 am

If this had a third act it would make a superb film, for the cast list is virtually a re-run…

Old Wasp with a weak sting

29 March 2003 12:00 am

The pleasure boat captains who ply the coast of the Gulf of Salerno beneath Gore Vidal’s Ravello flat are inconsolable…

What voice can do

29 March 2003 12:00 am

There was recently, in the serious and excellent Saturday Guardian review, a short piece on Oor Wullie, a small boy…

Tormented Prince Charming

29 March 2003 12:00 am

The story begins at the ch