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From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies, 3 September 1981

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... I would not need the telescopic sight as we all have that here anyway. Did you read my letters? Carlos Baker has put them out, a Selection he calls it. On page 867 you will see where it says ‘Carlos Baker really baffles me.’ Well that is understateing it, Pos. A man must really hate you to put out a Life ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Hemingway the Spy, 16 February 2017

... bureau in Havana. The American diplomat Robert Joyce told Hemingway’s biographer Carlos Baker that Hemingway was willing to pay for it himself. It is further alleged that he set up the Crook Factory, to keep an eye on enemy aliens in Cuba, and put his beloved, 38-foot fishing vessel Pilar out to sea as a scout for German U-boats. In a ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... that led Ginsberg to India in the first place. He was not alone. Nor is the story Deborah Baker tells in A Blue Hand – a story about the encounter between optimistic, postcolonial Bengalis and disillusioned American Beats – about Ginsberg alone. It is a dense little slice of bicultural history, collated from biographies, journals, interviews and ...

Licence to kill

Paul Foot, 10 February 1994

Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... usual, the CIA forgot he ever existed and left him to face the music. Both men worked closely with Carlos Cardoen, the Chilean Cluster Bomb King who has only two heroes, Pinochet and Saddam Hussein. Cardoen’s factories in Iquique kept the Iran-Iraq war going nicely, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of young men with his specially cheap cluster ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... the careers of such performers as Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker, and of many literary figures, some of whom, like Zora Neale Hurston, have more recently become famous again. Not that the pathology of apartheid had ceased to exist; after abolition there was a racist backlash, which intensified after the Great War and of ...

His One Eye Glittering

August Kleinzahler: Creeley’s Chatter, 20 May 2021

The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley 
edited by Rod Smith, Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris.
California, 467 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 520 32483 1
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... be a ‘self’ at all.Among Creeley’s early correspondents were Charles Olson and William Carlos Williams, who served, somewhat, as father figures. His actual father, a doctor, died when Creeley was four, after which the family’s fortunes took a serious downturn. Creeley first wrote to Williams in February 1950, soliciting work for a small magazine ...

Why me?

I.M. Lewis, 18 June 1981

Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage 
by Jeanne Favret-Saada, translated by C. Cullen.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £17.50, December 1980, 0 521 22317 2
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... witches. With hesitation and trepidation, Madame Favret-Saada thus makes her début as a kind of Carlos Casteneda of the Bocage. To a greater extent than Castaneda, while taking ‘magic force seriously’ and not just as ‘someone else’s belief’, she has at least managed to present an ostensibly detached account of her findings and experiences. On the ...

Saved by the Ant’s Fore-Foot

David Trotter: Pound’s Martyrology, 7 July 2005

The Pisan Cantos 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
New Directions, 159 pp., $13.95, October 2003, 9780811215589
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Poems and Translations 
by Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth.
Library of America, 1363 pp., $45, October 2003, 1 931082 41 3
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... on the wire: and as for the solidity of the white oxen in all this perhaps only Dr Williams (Bill Carlos) will understand its importance, its benediction. He wd/ have put in the cart. There is poetry in the white oxen (all the more, perhaps, for the cart’s omission), and humility. The poet, as Read put it, ‘contemplates the world of nature as the source ...


Inigo Thomas: My Father, Hugh Thomas, 15 June 2017

... he said. Too far from Figeac? I asked. The house was a distance from the town in the Lot with its baker and café, this was true, but in his phrasing there was, as there could be, an element of self-parody. A profile of him when he was president of the Cambridge Union in 1953, which he must have had a hand in writing himself, said: ‘It is far from the flash ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents, 5 January 2012

The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... set of wise-ass boys who drank espresso, watched Satyajit Ray films, and listened to recordings by Carlos Montoya and Dexter Gordon. She befriended closeted gays and other misfits, sharing their highbrow pretensions and their sense of marginality. Soon after she graduated, her father smelled another business opportunity and moved the family to Honolulu, where ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder, 24 May 2012

... poet, bioregionalist, teacher. Having bought out his early partners, Allen Ginsberg and Dick Baker, he is the sole proprietor of this estate, a hundred acres of manzanita thickets, with open stretches of ponderosa pine, black oak, cedar, madrone, Douglas fir, bunchgrass – and one of the most seductive houses in America, self-conceived and ...


Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... and found they liked each other’s homegrown musics. (After the war the ‘hillbilly’ Chet Baker ended up playing cool West Coast jazz, while Miles Davis huddled with Gil Evans and exulted in European melancholy.) Air travel became cheaper and more widely available, and Sinatra slipped easily into the role of poet laureate of the new global ...

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