Reportage

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Katherine Would Approve

'It was my first full-time job in a long while. The chairman of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society and the four paid staff were there, all in winter coats.'
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Virginia Woolf in the Bomb-scarred City

'This was her grandest bid to bring something back from the ruins. She was not reading despite the bombs; she was reading with them, and the two – reading and bombs – are jumbled together in one of her last letters.'
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Yates Lane, NW8

'Escapees from St Mary’s, Paddington: expectant father smoking; old lady wheeling herself in a wheelchair, smoking; die-hard holding urine sack, blood sack, smoking.'
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A Very Practical Joke

'I watched as she stuffed three oil paintings packed in bubble wrap into her large duffel bag, along with twenty t-shirts. We were only going for three days.'
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Annie Hall

'I can’t help feeling like he’s dismantled the very admirable legacy of his earlier work by his later, overly prolific efforts. It’s a more benign version of Ralph Nader.'
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Out of Windows

'Last Halloween, a woman was thrown out of a fourth-floor window in Marylebone. I was heading back to my flat on Chiltern Street with the intention of watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film that I had always avoided.'
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Diamonds in the Dark

'It is a secret, private, hidden world that operates under a strict set of unspoken internal laws: never screw a partner and once a deal is done it is a 'mazen brucha' and it must be adhered to.'
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Syria Calling

A document from another time: Robin Yassin-Kassab's diary of his 2008 return journey to Syria, and a Damascus hazed by diesel fumes but still standing.
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On Handwriting

'Only his handwriting seemed to locate him exactly, to ground his body in the act of writing and thinking and breathing; each stroke of the pen a black ink tether that tied me to him and him to me.'
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That Life of Sexual and Sybaritic Abandon

'Inspired by his loathing of the hypocrites and knaves who surrounded him, Rochester aimed to show his friends (and enemies) that he was a serious and considered thinker.'