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Science, Vine and Wine in Modern France 
by Harry Paul.
Cambridge, 355 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 49745 0
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... plantings of hybrids were outlawed for commercial purposes. Today they have all but disappeared. Paul questions how serious the phylloxera epidemic really was, pointing out that mildew was regarded as a more serious problem in the 1880s and that yields increased to compensate for the loss of vineyards. This may be correct, but the threat of phylloxera was ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: A west-country Man U supporter speaks, 22 June 2006

... folklore (youth + talent + death = legend), but the story has recently become more vexed. Harry Gregg, goalkeeper and hero of the crash (he carried a baby and several players from the burning plane, among them Bobby Charlton), has spoken out with some bitterness. For him, the crash has ‘become an industry, which certain people have perpetuated and ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Little England, 24 May 2001

... the name of the universally adored J.K. Rowling OBE. Is this not taking the antique Englishness of Harry Potter just a little too far? But then I remember that the ‘feasts’ served up at Hogwarts boarding school are of ‘roast beef, roast chicken . . . lamb chops . . . Yorkshire puddings . . . peppermint humbugs’ and the like. All of which is, as ...

Right as pie

Paul Foot, 24 October 1991

Tom Mann, 1856-1941: The Challenges of Labour 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Oxford, 288 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 19 820217 2
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... youth to be an actor, and always loved the theatre. His supreme gift was his humour. My witness is Harry McShane, who died in 1988 aged 97 after a lifetime’s agitation not unlike Tom Mann’s. Harry heard them all – Hyndman, MacLean, Grayson, Wheatley, Cook, Maxton, Bevan, Pollitt – yes, even MacDonald. ‘None of them ...

Warty-Fingered Klutzburger

Blake Morrison: ‘Be Mine’, 13 July 2023

Be Mine 
by Richard Ford.
Bloomsbury, 342 pp., £18.99, June, 978 1 5266 6176 0
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... as a certain sort of guy and not, as he fears, a mysterious blank. In Updike’s Rabbit quartet, Harry Angstrom comes screaming unmistakeably off the page, whereas Bascombe, however engaging, doesn’t add up.It’s in the hope that he might ‘come away with a reflected and clearer sense of “what kind of person I was” as my narrative neared its finish ...

In Icy Baltic Waters

David Blackbourn: Gunter Grass, 27 June 2002

Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 216 pp., €18, February 2002, 3 88243 800 2
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... here the historical timeline is inserted, flatly, alongside them. The narrator is the fictive Paul Pokriefke, but the novelist himself chips in, too, appearing first by name, then as ‘the old man’, a third time as ‘the boss’. Grass’s interventions lament his own and his generation’s failure to write about the refugees from the East. He ...

Bye-bye, NY

Ange Mlinko: Harry Mathews’s Fever Dream, 18 March 2021

Collected Poems: 1946-2016 
by Harry Mathews.
Sand Paper Press, 288 pp., $28, February 2020, 978 0 9843312 8 4
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... When​ Harry Mathews died in Key West in 2017, just shy of his 87th birthday, he was remembered as the first American member of Oulipo, the expatriate author of several experimental novels: The Conversions (1962), Tlooth (1966), The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium (1975), Cigarettes (1987), The Journalist (1994) and My Life in CIA (2005 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘Anthrax’!, 7 July 2005

... a cardboard box; a lump of plasticine – near a member of the royal family. ‘I could have blown Harry to bits,’ the front-page headline proclaimed. ‘Sun man gets “bomb” into Sandhurst.’ A very low-resolution picture, taken by the Sun man’s hidden camera, showed a bunch of cadets, the head of one of them ringed in red. This, apparently, is Prince ...

Anticipatory Plagiarism

Paul Grimstad: Oulipo, 6 December 2012

Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature 
by Daniel Levin Becker.
Harvard, 338 pp., £19.95, May 2012, 978 0 674 06577 2
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... novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller; a ‘Mathews algorithm’, named for its inventor Harry Mathews, consists of generating content by moving sets of words, sentences or paragraphs through serial permutations (a technique he used to derive the Montagnard tribe’s dialect for his novel The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium); and ...

The Bad News about the Resistance

Neal Ascherson: Parachuted into France, 30 July 2020

A Schoolmaster’s War: Harry Rée, British Agent in the French Resistance 
edited by Jonathan Rée.
Yale, 204 pp., £14.99, March 2020, 978 0 300 24566 0
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... Marie​ Fouillette died in France in 1975. By then, Harry Rée was a teacher at Woodberry Down Comprehensive in North London, back doing the job he loved best. But a little over thirty years before, they had been together in the French Resistance. Harry (‘Henri’ or ‘César’) was an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), parachuted in by London to organise the local ‘maquis’ to carry out sabotage in the Franche-Comté, up against the Swiss border ...

Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... Service and went early to university, where he quickly established himself as a comic genius. Harry Thompson has written a serious and carefully researched biography, and his early pages can be read in perfect silence. Suddenly, however, as it reaches the early Sixties, the narrative is interspersed with indented passages of Peter Cook’s jokes. They ...

Like a Manta Ray

Jenny Turner: The Entire History of Sex, 22 October 2015

The Argonauts 
by Maggie Nelson.
Graywolf, 143 pp., £23, May 2015, 978 1 55597 707 8
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... can you tell; or rather, who’s to tell?’ I’m guessing that Maggie probably met her partner, Harry, through work in some way, as both have teaching jobs at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, just north of LA. So they meet, they fall in love, they move in together – and immediately, their hilltop love nest has to double as a family ...

Asking too much

Stephen Wall, 22 February 1990

Lust, and Other Stories 
by Susan Minot.
Heinemann, 147 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434467570
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In Transit 
by Mavis Gallant.
Faber, 229 pp., £12.99, February 1990, 0 571 14212 5
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The Perfect Place 
by Sheila Kohler.
Cape, 148 pp., £11.95, February 1990, 0 224 02748 4
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Howling at the moon 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 174 pp., £10.95, February 1990, 0 09 469590 3
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by William Bedford.
Heinemann, 186 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434055593
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... desperate defence against the importunity of memory and the inescapability of guilt. The hero of Paul Sayer’s second book, Howling at the moon, ends up in the same kind of place as the narrator of his first, the Whitbread Prize-winning The Comforts of Madness. Michael Crumly’s decline from marital content to mental breakdown is charted with much ...

’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... authors, the novelist and scientist ‘William Cooper’: he was born in 1910 and brought up (as Harry Hoff) in the town of Crewe in Cheshire. Seniors in his family were determined chapel-goers, but Cooper-Hoff looks back at his childhood, over eighty years, with the quiet smile of a tolerant agnostic: his light, amused impressions illustrate the way England ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... three parts. So is One for My Baby. Readers may recall that the narrator of Man and Boy was called Harry, and he was a producer on a TV talk-show. His wife, Gina, left him and went to work in Tokyo. The narrator of One for My Baby is called Alfie (Parsons seems to be paying homage to characters played by Michael Caine). Alfie’s wife is called Rose. Rose dies ...

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