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Intrigues and Machinations: Conclave by Robert Harris

Review by Jon Elsby Assessing Robert Harris’s1 Conclave is not only a question of style. Also singled out are the quality of the dialogue, the architecture of the narrative, the balance between different sections, the sharpness of the characterization, the economy and precision of the descriptive writing, the ability unerringly to choose the telling concrete […]

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How to celebrate the Day of the Dead

… and a calavera for the selfish By Phil Hall So you have lived deep and extracted all the sweetness out of life, and you have had your last meal. But, what food and drink would you like people to remember you by? What wafting smell would have the power to conjure you up from the […]

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Personal Tragedies in Rodrigo Hasbún’s Los afectos

by Kathryn A. Kopple In 2015, the Bolivian writer Rodrigo Hasbún published Los afectos (Affections), a slim volume loosely based on the Ertl family, a clan foisted on the reader with precious little introduction. “The day papa returned from Nanga Parbat (with some heart-rending images, of a beauty that wasn’t human), he told us while […]

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A Retrospect on The Three Tenors

by Jon Elsby Just about everyone old enough to remember the football World Cups of the 1990s and early 2000s will remember the Three Tenors. The open air concerts they gave, cleverly timed to coincide with those World Cups, converted Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras from operatic superstars into household names, and briefly […]

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An audience with Samuel Beckett

by Garry O’Connor Ian Herbert, another friend from King’s, was working for Pitman’s. He commissioned a book on French theatre. I decided I would try to interview Samuel Beckett, intending a whole chapter just on him. I wrote to ask if I could see him and gave him some dates I could be in Paris. […]

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TV situation comedy – a Tory secret weapon?

By Paul Halas A favourite saying amongst Tories, not least the late demented Margaret Thatcher, is that the Conservatives are the natural party of government in the UK. Simply in terms of incumbency that statement is just about correct: since the end of the Second World War, when regular TV schedules really began, the Tories […]

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So you want to be a comic strip writer

Story-writing for comics By Paul Halas It’s surprising how often I’ve been asked how one becomes a comic strip story-writer. My first reaction is usually to try to figure out if the person asking me is a, just being polite, b, gobsmacked that anyone should ever dream of entering such a bizarre profession, or c, […]

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Poet of Honour: Fiona Sampson

  March Lapwings       Now everythingbegins to moveand everything stayswhere it iseach ash treeand each hummockshifts againstitself eventhe grass shiftsand the electriclapwings crychange changebecause the commonmelts and flowseven the earthflows like thawingice how lostthe senses arein this disturbancehere it comesagain the newelectric crychange changeas it moves past us This poem is from Come […]

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Letters from Paul Robeson

Selected by Dominic Tweedie from: Paul Robeson Speaks: Writings, Speeches, Interviews, 1918-1974 Paul Robeson was a superstar in the USA in the 1930’s and 40’s despite the fact that he was African American. In 1915 he was twice an All American football star and while playing for the NFL got his law degree summa cum […]

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