Andrew McKie rss

Wine tasting in 19th-century Austria

Not a barrel of laughs: a history of hogsheads, kegs and puncheons

6 December 2014
Wood, Whiskey and Wine: A History of Barrels Henry H. Work

Reaktion Books, pp.237, £20, ISBN: 9781780233567

Few people, perhaps, will immediately seize on this title as just the thing for a relative’s Christmas, even if their surname is Cooper. If it doesn’t have the wide appeal… Read more

Homage to the Sage of Shepperton

13 October 2012
Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J.G. Ballard, 1967-2008 Simon Sellars and Dan O’Hara (editors)

Fouryh Estate, pp.503, £25, ISBN: 9780007454853

L’Arénas, between Côte d’Azur airport and a dual carriageway patrolled by prostitutes, is a banal stretch of concrete, steel and glass offices, malls and hotels that seems always to be… Read more

S is for Speculative

3 December 2011
In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination Margaret Atwood

Virago, pp.256, 17.99

Margaret Atwood has written 20 novels, of which three (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood) are science fiction. Indeed, the first— and far the… Read more


A right song and dance

18 December 2010
Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater Larry Stempel

W.W. Norton, pp.826, 30

The first Broadway musical that I saw, a quarter of a century ago, actually on Broadway, wasn’t, of course, actually on Broadway; it was on West 44th Street. The first… Read more


Almost everything came up roses

16 October 2010
Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics, 1954-1981 Stephen Sondheim

Virgin Books, pp.444, 30

There’s a number in Merrily We Roll Along called ‘Opening Doors’, in which two young songwriters audition for a producer who interrupts: ‘That’s great! That’s swell!/ The other stuff as… Read more


Architect of cool

11 September 2010
Zero History William Gibson

Viking, pp.404, 18.99

More than quarter of a century later, 1984 remains firmly fixed in the future, fiction having provided a more vivid view than our memories of the year which actually happened.… Read more


Strictness and susceptibility

20 January 2010
Collected Stories, Volumes I & II William Trevor

Penguin, pp.30 each, 1827

William Trevor’s collected short stories were published in 1992 and brought together seven collections. William Trevor’s collected short stories were published in 1992 and brought together seven collections. But since… Read more

Life of a cave dweller

26 August 2009
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King Lisa Rogak

JR Books, pp.310, 16.99

All literature, but especially literature of the weird and the fantastic, is a cave where both readers and writers hide from life. (Which is exactly why so many parents and… Read more

Unseeing is believing

17 June 2009
The City & The City China Miéville

Macmillan, pp.312, 17.99

The City & The City, by China Miéville China Miéville’s second book, Perdido Street Station, made his name by reimagining fantasy as thoroughly as had M. John Harrison’s Viriconium or… Read more


The wide blue yonder

11 March 2009
Journey into Space Toby Litt

Penguin, pp.243, 7.99

Toby Litt begins the titles of his books with consecutive letters of the alphabet and takes delight in shifting style and genre. He has now reached J, and science fiction.… Read more