Books

Nature versus Nurture: the state of play

21 September 2002 12:00 am

The Blank Slate, more readily recognised in its original Latin as tabula rasa, is the soubriquet for the view that…

A world of drivers and passengers

21 September 2002 12:00 am

VJ night, the war in the Pacific is finally over, and in William Kennedy’s Albany the war of senatorial election…

The way to the tomb

21 September 2002 12:00 am

This queer, black novel is mainly concerned with the special funeral train service which once plied between Waterloo Station and…

Out of the bottom drawer?

21 September 2002 12:00 am

Two years ago in The Spectator I praised Ha Jin’s earlier novel, Waiting. It was about a kindly, ineffectual army…

Singing for your supper

21 September 2002 12:00 am

On 23 February l937 a small boy of seven arrives at Victoria station, London. Here he is met, as arranged,…

Boots, boots, boots, boots

21 September 2002 12:00 am

KEANE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHYby Roy KeanePenguin/Michael Joseph, £17.99, pp. 294, ISBN 07181455 One could imagine an American visitor to Hatchards being…

Not one to be stared down

21 September 2002 12:00 am

No ghostwriter haunts this account of a cricketing life, so obviously written by the man who played the way he…

Pedalling into politics

21 September 2002 12:00 am

Perhaps it is not a good idea to call Dervla Murphy ‘redoubtable’. She is a strident anti-militarist and might not…

The heart of the master

14 September 2002 12:00 am

THE HUMOUR AND THE PITY: ESSAYS ON V. S. NAIPAULedited by Amitava KumarBuffalo Books, in association with the British Council,…

When inner and outer reality collide

14 September 2002 12:00 am

Coleridge’s Notebooks have been a companion during most of my mature life and this is a marvellously judged and varied…

He is cheap, he is pure, he is capable – and he isn’t doomed

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In any discussion about the English judicial system with foreigners, they are always amazed to learn that more than 90…

Unblinking, even for a second

14 September 2002 12:00 am

Some novels are something; others are about something. If fiction is an art, then the former class is more likely…

A new lease of life

14 September 2002 12:00 am

The heroine of Margaret Drabble’s new novel is on first sight pretty depressing, and supposed to be so. The opening…

As sharp as cut tin

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In fiction, as in other branches of the creative arts, reputation is all, or nearly all. One of my most…

Raw skin over bone

14 September 2002 12:00 am

At the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, Dr David Starkey, the television historian and iconoclast, pronounced that history was elitist…

How the master of landscape was transformed

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In 1760s Bath, the promenade from the Pump Room to the tree-lined Walks of Orange Grove passed a row of…

Deceiving only those who want to believe

14 September 2002 12:00 am

Forgery ranked with murder as a capital crime well into the 19th century. Faked texts and signatures could falsify wills…

No room at the top

14 September 2002 12:00 am

In the years following the second world war, Tony Crosland, Roy Jenkins and Denis Healey either became Labour Members of…

A bleak kind of optimism

14 September 2002 12:00 am

After several acclaimed novels, including last year’s Pulitzer prize-winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo has now produced a volume of short…

Sniggling with a darning needle

7 September 2002 12:00 am

I have always counted myself a loyal, even an enthusiastic eel fan. I seek them out and buy them whenever…

A phoenix rising from European ashes

7 September 2002 12:00 am

It is impossible in a short space to convey not merely how good, but how important Geoffrey Hill’s writing is.…

Grimly comic menace

7 September 2002 12:00 am

Porno is billed as ‘the sequel to Trainspotting’, which immediately is a worrying sign, like the blow-up doll that stares…

Plucking at the sighing harp of time

7 September 2002 12:00 am

William Trevor is the voice of a civilised Anglo-Ireland capable of apologising for ancient privileges and extensive estates while discreetly…

Swagger, colour and dash

31 August 2002 12:00 am

A. N. Wilson claims that he can imagine nothing more agreeable than the life of a country parson, ‘born in…

This side of greatness

31 August 2002 12:00 am

If Kafka had never existed, critics might now be using the word Warneresque, instead of Kafkaesque, to describe the sort…