sat 18/05/2024

book reviews and features

Nick Laird: Up Late review - attention lapses

Alice Brewer

A few pages before the titular poem of Up Late, Nick Laird describes a haircut in a bathroom mirror, and finds a possible art form reflected back: "something like a poem / glances back /...

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Extract: Bacon in Moscow by James Birch

James Birch

In 1988, James Birch – curator, art dealer, and gallery owner – took Francis Bacon to Moscow. It was, as he writes, "an unimaginable intrusion of Western Culture into the heart of the Soviet...

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Fiona Maddocks: Goodbye Russia - Rachmaninoff in Exile review - an affectionate biographical portrait

Bernard Hughes

In 1917, in the face of the Bolshevik revolution closing in on his country estate, Rachmaninoff fled Russia, never to return. He was 44, at his peak as composer, pianist and conductor, but spent...

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Jacqueline Rose: The Plague review - tracing our response to tragedy

Lia Rockey

In The Plague: Living Death in Our Times, Jacqueline Rose makes a surprising pivot from her usual topics – Sylvia Plath, children’s fiction, Zionism, to name a few – to throw a spotlight...

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Caleb Azumah Nelson: Small Worlds review - Ghana and London dance together

India Lewis

Small Worlds, the second novel from Caleb Azumah Nelson, is a delight: a book with a real feeling for sound and dance, and a sense of place from London to Ghana and back again. It’s a...

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Andrey Kurkov: Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv review - a city speaks its multitudes

Hugh Barnes

Rock music helped to subvert the Soviet Union by glamorising youthful rebellion and the West. In the opening scene of Andrey Kurkov’s...

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Helen Czerski: Blue Machine review - how the ocean works

Jon Turney

If you cannot even step into the same river twice, how to take the measure of the ocean? Dipping your toes at the beach is irresistible, but uninformative. Sampling stuff out at sea helps more,...

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Polly Toynbee: An Uneasy Inheritance - My Family and Other Radicals review - looking back

Liz Thomson

There are few contemporary journalists whose names are instantly familiar – and usually it’s for the wrong...

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Sophia Giovannitti: Working Girl - On Selling Art and Selling Sex review - portrait of the artist as sex worker

Lia Rockey

Sophia Giovannitti begins selling sex because it promises to make her the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time. She also has a “near categorical hatred of work.”

I nearly –...

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Kieran Yates: All the Houses I've Ever Lived In, Brighton Festival 2023 review - home as comfort, and cruelty

Nick Hasted

The audience questions are when Kieran Yates’ talk boils over. Her book All the Houses I’ve Ever Lived In considers housing policy through autobiography and imaginative research, and the preceding...

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