Ford madox ford

Rupert Murdoch has nothing to fear from me

Harvard man Russell Seitz has sent me an extraordinary present as an object lesson in ‘what a magazine should be in case you start another one’. The paper has yellowed and is dog-eared, pages are falling out and the print is faint. But the Transatlantic Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, dated January 1924, is a joy to behold. Mind you, we were already almost 100 years old when Ford Madox Ford first edited TTR in Paris. And that’s what I told my friend Russell. Anyone who writes for or reads The Spectator is not likely to be impressed by other publications, but this does not include a posturing peacock from

The sad, extraordinary life of Basil Bunting

Funny old life, eh? Small world, etc. In one of those curious, Alan Bennett-y, believe-it-or-not-but-I-once-delivered-meat-to-the mother-in-law-of-T.S.-Eliot-type coincidences, it turns out that Mark Knopfler once worked as a copy boy on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle when Basil Bunting was working there as a sub-editor. Knopfler being Knopfler, he eventually wrote a sad sweet song about it, ‘Basil’, in which he describes England’s most important modernist poet sitting stranded in the newspaper offices, surrounded by up-and-coming Bri-Nylon-clad jack-the-lads, wearing his ancient blue sweater, puffing on his untipped Players, clearly ‘too old for the job’ and ‘bored out of his mind’. ‘Bury all joy/ Put the poems in sacks/ And bury me here

Euthanasia sitcom: What Are You Going Through, by Sigrid Nunez, reviewed

What Are You Going Through is both brilliant and mercifully brief. Weighing in at 200-odd pages, it can be read in five hours flat and will leave you staring into endless night. ‘Make the audience suffer as much as possible,’ advised Alfred Hitchcock, and Sigrid Nunez, whose subject is emotional extremity, follows suit. The suffering begins at the start when the narrator, a woman of a certain age whose name we never learn, goes to a talk by a writer, whose name we also never learn. His lecture, given in a polished, emotionless voice, is about the death of the planet: It was over, he said. It was too late,