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At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... that ‘he’s destroying everything now I’ve lived my life for.’ And what was that, exactly? Robin Wood’s book doesn’t live up to the very limited terms of its title, which must have been imposed upon it (since neither Reagan nor Vietnam appear even in the index) by a publisher worried about lack of market appeal. There could be no bolder ...

In Easgann Wood

Robin Robertson, 18 February 2016

... abandoned me. Listen. I will tell you both. No birds fly over Coille nan Easgann, the sacrificial wood; no animals stray there, only the insects and worms can make use of it. The first was that daftie, Doogie McRae: moon-struck, wanting a feather in the wing. I found him hunkered in the ruined church; dust round his mouth, from eating moths again. As we ...

In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

The Shakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... us, Barton’s interest in the topic had first been excited by her reading of Ben Jonson’s Robin Hood play, The Sad Shepherd, for her monograph on Shakespeare’s great rival. Given this history, it may seem surprising that The Shakespearean Forest is not a longer book, but Barton became almost blind as a result of macular degeneration and was forced ...

Slices of Cake

Gilberto Perez: Alfred Hitchcock, 19 August 1999

Hitchcock’s Secret Notebooks: An Authorised and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock 
by Dan Auiler.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7475 4490 5
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... popular entertainment to have a moral, metaphysical or ideological content. The high-minded critic Robin Wood responded to Houston’s article with the kind of righteousness his mentor F.R. Leavis directed against Bloomsbury, dismissing it in Hitchcock’s Films, his classic auteur study of 1965, as the product of a snobbish, dilettante establishment that ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 21 October 2004

... and got our towels from the car. Swimming in the Woods Her long body in the spangled shade of the wood was a swimmer moving through a pool: fractal, finned by leaf and light; the loose plates of lozenge and rhombus wobbling coins of sunlight, heat-wavering. When she stopped, the water stopped, and the sun remade her as a tree, banded and freckled and ...

Beyond Dubh-Chladach

Robin Robertson, 23 May 2019

... his silver sixpence, the gold ring, and with his joiner’s tools made us a cradle of the holy wood, nailed it round with iron. As my time grew close, he drew water from the well, collected mussel-shells to hang from the beams with bindweed so they’d clack above the crib; mistletoe and the sixpence for the bed, and leaves of the mòthan to spread out ...

More Fun to Be a Boy

Lorna Scott Fox: Haunted by du Maurier, 2 November 2000

Daphne du Maurier: Haunted Heiress 
by Nina Auerbach.
Pennsylvania, 216 pp., £18.50, December 1999, 0 8122 3530 4
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... Hitchcock ‘grumbled about how hampered he was by her simple-minded femaleness – or, as Robin Wood puts it, “the indigestible novelettish ingredients” of her work – but I suspect that du Maurier disturbed him because she wasn’t novelettish enough. In her books, he found a sensibility even more perverse than his own’ – and did his ...

Out in the Open

Robin Robertson, 25 May 2006

... after Tranströmer 1. Late autumn labyrinth. A discarded bottle lies at the entrance to the wood. Walk in. The forest in this season is a silent palace of abandoned rooms. Only a few, precise sounds: as if someone were lifting twigs with tweezers; as if, inside each tree-trunk, a hinge was creaking quietly. Frost has breathed on the mushrooms and they’ve shrivelled up; they are like the personal effects of the disappeared ...

At Roane Head

Robin Robertson, 14 August 2008

... of rusty saws. The bitter sea’s complaining pull and roll; a whicker of pigeons, lifting in the wood. She’d had four sons, I knew that well enough, and each one wrong. All born blind, they say, slack-jawed and simple, web-footed, rickety as sticks. Beautiful faces, I’m told, though blank as air. Someone saw them once, outside, hirpling down to the ...


Robin Robertson, 8 September 2011

... moth will find the evening primrose and her nectary. * The dead jack-rabbit has dried flat as wood, like a Texas cricket bat. * I find Our Lady of Guadalupe out there, watching through the wire. * Only the eagle moves in this heat, shimmering in the blue thermals. * Covering my tracks I have tied mesquite branches to the horse’s tail. * These are just ...

Three Poems

Robin Robertson, 27 August 2009

... The Wood of Lost Things We went for walks here, as children, listening out for gypsies, timber wolves, the great hinges in the trees. Hours we’d wander its long green halls making swords from branches, gathering stars of elderflower to thread into a chain. Today the forest sends up birds to distract me, deer to turn me from the track, puts out stems and tendrils to trip and catch at my feet ...

Two Poems

Robin Robertson, 6 October 2005

... comes down like an empty glass and the ground shakes off the last of the rain. I reach the elm-wood, under the rookery, slip a bullet in the breech and wait here in this dark, between the harvest and the hunter’s moon. Holding Proteus Becalmed here on this salt beach far from home, my boat blisters and flakes in the sun; it has forgotten the sea as I ...

The Crotch Thing

James Wood: Alan Hollinghurst, 16 July 1998

The Spell 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Chatto, 257 pp., £15.99, July 1998, 0 7011 6519 7
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... worthy, and they are engaged only in somewhat self-obsessed emotional and sexual spelunking. Robin, a well-born architect approaching fifty, has a gruff and difficult decency – and a vividness on the page which his new boyfriend, Justin, never attains. Justin is a narcissistic heartbreaker, whom Robin meets in ...

The Death of Actaeon

Robin Robertson, 5 June 2003

... with his white star, Bristler and Blackbeard, Lightfoot and White-tooth, shrill-tongued Ring-the-Wood, and others, many others, it would take too long to name. Locked on to their quarry, the whole pack, thick with bloodlust, flowed over the rocks and crags, over the trackless cliffs – where the way is hard, or where there is no way at all. He leapt and ...

Tassel Rue

Diane Williams, 17 December 2020

... sharp, saw-toothed leaves.‘See the bird!’ Ruby cried again, and I said, ‘That’s maybe a robin –’ or a robin gone wrong. It had a robin’s shape, but the colouring was off – speckled earth tones.It stayed nearby – turned out it was a ...

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