Moralist of the Silver Screed

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Forget the salacious book titles (Taking It All In, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I Lost It at the Movies) and the salty vocabulary – ‘soft’, ‘whorey’, ‘pulpy’ – Pauline Kael was a devoted mother and grandmother who spent the bulk of her life doing nothing more exciting than watching, talking and writing about films. Which […]

Extinction’s Alp

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Defending Philip Larkin from his critics, Christopher Hitchens said that readers loved him because he understood everyday suffering. He mapped ‘decaying communities, old people’s homes, housing estates and clinics’ better than most social democrats. While dying is often referred to as ‘going down hill’, Larkin, Hitchens saw, realised that debilitation is not an easy glide […]

Man of Parts

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Ryszard Kapuściński was journalism’s answer to superman. His blend of suicidal derring-do and empathy for the powerless transformed the messy ingredients of daily news coverage into literary gold. A witness to dozens of wars, coups and revolutions, he befriended Che Guevara and Patrice Lumumba. He had a knack for narrowly escaping death by firing squad. […]

Bandanna on the Run

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

David Foster Wallace hanged himself in the autumn of 2008, leaving a dense, agonised, brilliant and moving body of work. What was already a more than usually cultish following for a living American writer entered, as the publication puff for this biography vulgarly boasts, the territory of a Kurt Cobain or a James Dean.

Politics & Poetry

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Sir Thomas Wyatt was the ambassador, the ‘beloved familiar’ and allegedly the rival in love of Henry VIII. During his rather short but fiery lifetime, he found himself banished from court and clapped in the Tower for offences ranging from affray to a supposed affair with Anne Boleyn. In truth, the legend of this romance […]

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RLF - March