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Comedy is murder

Thomas Powers: Joseph Heller, 8 March 2012

Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller 
by Tracy Daugherty.
Robson, 548 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84954 172 5
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Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller was Dad and Life was a Catch-22 
by Erica Heller.
Vintage, 272 pp., £8.99, October 2011, 978 0 09 957008 0
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... he makes a speech at the company’s annual convention in Bermuda.’ The novelist and biographer Tracy Daugherty relates this moment in his masterful and fluent new life of Heller, Just One Catch. He pauses after the word Bermuda, very much, he imagines, as Heller must have done. ‘Married man working for a large company’ was not the sort of plot ...

I want to be the baby

Kasia Boddy: Barthelme’s High Jinks, 18 August 2022

Collected Stories 
by Donald Barthelme, edited by Charles McGrath.
Library of America, 1004 pp., £40, July 2021, 978 1 59853 684 3
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... difficult’, but letting ‘eerily symbolic’ survive. (Barthelme’s biographer, Tracy Daugherty, points out that in the same issue as ‘L’Lapse’, a reviewer can be found complaining that West Side Story was ‘inhumanly overproduced’.)These parodic set-pieces – the New Yorker called them ‘casuals’ – were Barthelme’s way ...

Fire or Earthquake

Thomas Powers: Joan Didion’s Gaze, 3 November 2022

Let Me Tell You What I Mean: A New Collection of Essays 
by Joan Didion.
Fourth Estate, 149 pp., £8.99, January 2022, 978 0 00 845178 3
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... Noel didn’t tell me that. He told his friend, the writer Dan Wakefield, and Wakefield told Tracy Daugherty, author of a rich and thorough biography of Didion, The Last Love Song (2015). But Noel didn’t cast Didion aside; he introduced her to Dunne, one of the young talents he made a point of helping. ‘This is the guy you ought to marry,’ he ...

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