Bark by Lorrie Moore11 Mar 2014 01:39:34
The good news, mathematically speaking, is that the stories are pretty much 100% brilliant, as usual. There's not a dud among them. And I guess there's an underlying aesthetic and emotional unity here, something subtly distinct from her previous nest of new stories, 1998's Birds of America. That unity is emphasised by three dog-related epigraphs from poems, to which I would add a fourth from Billy Collins's The Revenant, in which a dog, having been put euphemistically to sleep, comes back from t... Read Full Story
Dreams of the Good Life by Richard Mabey11 Mar 2014 01:38:30
As Richard Mabey points out towards the end of his study of the making of Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson's rural classic is not only a periodic bestseller; it "rises like Excalibur" at times of national crisis. The National Theatre's adaptation, in which harvestmen scythed through the audience to the sound of the Albion Band, was staged during the winter of discontent; the illustrated Lark Rise, which sold a million copies, was published in 1983 when unemployment was at a record high; t... Read Full Story
Singing from the Floor by JP Bean11 Mar 2014 01:37:31
"It's a vernacular spectacular!", screams Jarvis Cocker from the cover of this celebration of British folk clubs, as the Pulp frontman, DJ and now editor-at-large at Faber really should. Cocker's appointment in 2011 rubber-stamped the publisher's interest in big music titles. And when I say big, I mean big. In recent years, Bob Stanley's history of pop, Dorian Lynskey's catalogue of protest songs and Richard King's overview of indie have all been gargantuan paperbacks. For a subject as undervalu... Read Full Story
Cat out of Hell by Lynne Truss06 Mar 2014 23:26:19
At the centre of the book is a cat called Roger who, in a seaside cottage on a dark and windy night, has a story to tell: first to a man called Wiggy whose sister and her dog have mysteriously vanished, and then, by extension, to a widowed librarian called Alec who, for some baffling reason, has been given a recording of Roger and Wiggy's conversations.
As well as having the ability to talk, Roger is sarcastic, well read and, as is only fitting in a book by the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, ... Read Full Story
A Quiet Word by Tamasin Cave, Andy Rowell06 Mar 2014 23:24:42
It is an attractive theory that taps into both a contemporary sense of political alienation and the tide of anti-corporate feeling following the banking crash. But does it actually stack up?
This book's big insight is that lobbyists are no longer courtiers at Westminster, but are an indispensable part of the court. As the state shrinks, they are enterprisingly filling the gaps. Got big plans for public services, minister, but don't know how to deliver them on the cheap? Why, the private sector ... Read Full Story
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward06 Mar 2014 23:22:51
Such is the precarity of young black male life in the US and the paucity of the options available to so many – almost one in 10 young black men are in jail and murder is the greatest killer of black men under the age of 24. It is to these statistics that Jesmyn Ward attempts to give both humanity and context in her memoir, in which she relates the unconnected deaths in the space of just four years of five young men who were close to her. "By all the official records," she writes, "here at the co... Read Full Story
Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins06 Mar 2014 02:18:06
Thomas Arnold, in his inaugural speech as professor of modern history at Oxford in 1841, said that Britain's history began with the Saxons: "The history of Caesar's invasion has no more to do with us, than the natural history of the animals which then inhabited our forests." Jump forward a century and a half, to the announcement that the woman known as "ivory bangle lady", whose body was discovered in York in 1901, was probably of African descent. The research team responsible for this latter di... Read Full Story
Philosophical musings in the Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002 written by Bernard Williams, Michael Wood06 Mar 2014 02:16:32
It wasn't just that he looked the part (tall, dark and slightly angular, dressed in elegant left-bank style). More important, he often talked the kind of philosophy that engages the public: not all those intricate puzzles about whether the chair we're sitting on really exists, but the big questions of morality, ethics and how one should live. It was partly because of these interests, and partly no doubt because of the connections he made through his first wife, Shirley Williams, that in the late... Read Full Story
About Lena Dunham's experience06 Mar 2014 02:12:03
Lena Dunham is already the writer, producer, star and sometime director of the US sitcom Girls, as well as the author of a forthcoming memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, which she sold to Random House in a multimillion dollar deal. And now she can add another hyphenate: comic-book writer.
Dunham has signed on to write a four-part story for the long-running Archie comics in 2015, after the publisher reached out to her following her public enthusiasm for the books in a panel debate with JJ Abrams and... Read Full Story
Foreign Gods Inc by Okey Ndibe29 Jan 2014 01:51:15
The gods in Okey Ndibe's second novel, Foreign Gods Inc. are playthings for the rich and the famous. They undergo the indignity of being stolen or exiled and then bought and sold like common articles of trade. Even Nietzsche, for whom gods were disposal beings, would have been scandalised by the idea of gods-turned-commodity. He would have felt a bit queasy at the thought of high-end "god shops" in bustling American cities where Hollywood stars and "titans of the corporate world" paid $400,000 f... Read Full Story
Wake by Anna Hope29 Jan 2014 01:49:19
In fact, the idea of commemorating an anonymous soldier had circulated in Britain and France throughout the war. The body of the unknown soldier represented war at its most deadly and egalitarian, as a stripping away of any sign of rank or social status, and its commemoration was offered as an opportunity for collective mourning. Without identity, he belonged to everyone.
To enact such weighty symbolism required carefully choreographed ritual. Remains were exhumed from four battle areas and bro... Read Full Story
Inside the Dream Palace by Sherill Tippins29 Jan 2014 01:47:24
In the seething, druggy summer of 1969, a room in the Chelsea hotel gave me my first view of New York. The establishment – a Queen Anne folly with a rooftop pyramid on West 23rd Street, opened in 1884 – was not quite the dream palace of Sherill Tippins's title: it struck me more as a trauma ward. Pimps and pushers loitered in the lobby; a transvestite dispensed room keys behind a shield of bulletproof glass; a trip upstairs in the elevator could get you high in more ways than one, given the capt... Read Full Story