wed 28/02/2024

book reviews and features

The Holiness of Sex: Leonard Cohen's Biblical Theology

Harry Freedman

On hearing that I had recently written a book about Leonard Cohen, someone asked me why I thought Bob Dylan...

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Peter Robison: Flying Blind review – a story of decline and crawl

John Carvill

Thomas Pynchon’s saturnine '70s novel Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) begins with “[a] screaming [that] comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.”...

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Lucie Elven: The Weak Spot review - a cryptic modern fable

Izzy Smith

For most of us, fluttering our eyelids to convince a loved one to cook dinner is harmless meddling. Complimenting our boss on their new coat before asking for a promotion is necessary cunning. For...

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Sarah Moss: The Fell review - a dark night on the hills

India Lewis

Sarah Moss’s new novel is a slim snapshot of a moment of fear and danger in the year of Covid. That year when judgement and recrimination ruled, and neighbourly feeling was in short supply. It is...

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Claire Tomalin: The Young H.G. Wells review – days of the comet

Boyd Tonkin

In late 1894 an unknown 28-year-old science tutor and wannabe writer finished a story in his dismal lodgings just north of Euston station. Divorced, after a brief, calamitous marriage to a cousin...

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Devin Jacobsen: Breath Like the Wind at Dawn review – the disturbances of the Civil War

Jessica Payn

How do you imagine the wind at dawn? Biting, brisk, peremptory – a kind of summons as another day begins? 

For Les Tamplin, wife-beater, sheriff, father to three sons, it is a detective...

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Ruth Ozeki: The Book of Form and Emptiness review - where the objects speak

CP Hunter

“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” Ruth Ozeki’s latest novel takes its name from a Buddhist heart sutra...

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Mark Bould: The Anthropocene Unconscious review - climate anxiety is written everywhere

Jon Turney

Our everyday lives, if we’re fortunate, may be placid, even contented. A rewarding job, for some; good eats; warm home; happy family; entertainment on tap. Yet, even for the privileged, awareness...

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Stuart Jeffries: Everything, All the Time, Everywhere - How We Became Post-Modern review - entertaining origin-story for the world of today

Daniel Baksi

In his 1985 essay “Not-Knowing”, the American writer Donald Barthelme describes a fictional situation in which an unknown “someone” is writing a story.

“From the world of conventional signs...

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Selva Almada: Brickmakers review – men dying for love

Boyd Tonkin

To make bricks you torment the soft, moist and fluid material of clay and sand in a prison of fire until it becomes dry, hard and unyielding. In Selva Almada’s rural...

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Out of Season, Hampstead Theatre review - banter as bullying

One island off the coast of Spain has more cultural oomph than all the rest put together. I’m talking about Ibiza, the sun-soaked, music-happy and...

Andy Parsons, Touring review - reasons to be cheerful...

In the middle of another age of austerity, a climate crisis and seemingly intractable international conflicts, it's cheering that a comic should...

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The best popular music tunes into the zeitgeist. It can reflect cultural currents, encourage them, or enable the public to turn away and...

'Migrations' String Quartet Weekend, National Conc...

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When the first season of Drive to Survive launched on Netflix in 2019, it was greeted with suspicion by some in the Formula One paddock....

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For the past ten years, Black-British playwrights have been in the vanguard of innovation in the form and content of new writing. I’m thinking not...

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We can’t do without Così fan tutte; it’s an irresistible masterpiece. But it’s a thorn in the flesh of modern directors, who...

Driving Mum review - a dark comedy that has you laughing out...

Hilmar Oddsson’s award-winning film Driving Mum is pitch-perfect. Jon has spent the last 30 years looking after his domineering mother....

Manon Lescaut, English Touring Opera review - a nightmare in...

Opera in Britain is currently cursed by funders, politicians and ideologues – of right and left – who heartily detest the form. Alas, some...

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