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Peter Conrad

Charlie Chaplin review a man condemned to journey alone

By his mid-twenties, Charlie Chaplin was the most famous man in the world, recognised by admirers in every one of the markets reached by the new, language-free medium of silent film. In Modern Times the unhoused tramp says that he lives "anywhere", and th

Little Failure review - Gary Shteyngart's hilarious memoir

Gary Shteyngart's memoir of adapting to life in the US is witty and heartbreaking Like the tragic clown who bawls so mellifluously in the opera, funny men are often sad sacks at heart. Although Gary Shteyngart's three comic novels - covert memoirs about

Call Me Burroughs: A Life by Barry Miles - review

A vivid new biography of the beat wild man recasts him as a vitriolic vaudeville performer haunted by the killing of his wife "Call me Burroughs"? I can't imagine William S Burroughs saying anything so anodyne as he extended his bony hand to be shaken. T

Inside the Dream Palace by Sherill Tippins - review

In the seething, druggy summer of 1969, a room in the Chelsea hotel gave me my first view of New York.

Dead Interviews, ed. Dan Crowe - review

Alive, writers are already ghosts, disembodied voices in our heads; during their afterlives, they go on speaking to us from beyond the grave.

Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner - review

A brilliant, festive study of JS Bach uses literature and painting to illuminate his 'dance-impregnated' music Bach might be John Eliot Gardiner 's godfather, a few centuries removed. Gardiner actually grew up under the eye of the bewigged Lutheran cant

To the Letter by Simon Garfield; Letters of Note by Shaun Usher - review

A history of letter-writing and a collection of notable correspondence stir up mixed emotions The writer of a letter is an unrequited lover, addressing an absent reader. At the end of Lady Chatterley's Lover , Mellors the gruff satyr, separated from his

To the Letter by Simon Garfield; Letters of Note by Shaun Usher - review

A history of letter-writing and a collection of notable correspondence stir up mixed emotions The writer of a letter is an unrequited lover, addressing an absent reader. At the end of Lady Chatterley's Lover , Mellors the gruff satyr, separated from his

The Letters of Paul Cezanne by Alex Danchev - review

A grubby, visionary Cezanne comes to life in this ingenious, sumptuous volume of letters Painters are licensed mess-makers, but none has ever seemed more riotously scatological than Cezanne, whose solitary, lifelong effort to reconceive natural forms and

Stage Blood by Michael Blakemore - review

Laurence Olivier, Peter Hall and other players strut and fret in this fine memoir of the National Theatre's growing pains Vengeance is the very stuff of theatre, a pure example of the first law of dramatic physics, which decrees that any action has to pr