Books

Boxing Match

The Angels Die spares no punches

13 August 2016 9:00 am

We can all share the anguish in the downfall of a simple soul — for movie-goers Brando’s despairing ‘I coulda’…

Loveliest of trees: ‘Cherry blossom at Asakura’ by Ando or Utagawa Hiroshige.The flowering cherry is a national obsession in Japan — and in Korea has been eradicated

The oak doesn't belong to England

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Was it perhaps the landscape historian Oliver Rackham who gave rise to our present preoccupation with old trees through his…

Long live the King (Photo: Getty)

Our Elvis obsession remains astonishingly robust

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Elvis only ever appeared in one commercial in his life — for Southern Maid, his favourite jam doughnut shop. That…

Long Walk in Africa

Colin Thubron’s Night of Fire both disturbs and consoles

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Night of Fire is Colin Thubron’s first novel for 14 years. For most of us he is better known as…

George Plimpton training with the Detroit Lions at Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, MI (March 1963)

A gentleman of letters competes with the players

6 August 2016 9:00 am

George Plimpton threw himself into the game and turned sports journalism into an art. Ben Markovits welcomes the reissue of six of his classics

A role model for the modern woman: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a role model for the modern feminist

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Cards on the table. Before I’d published my first novel, or written for newspapers, or won awards for my writing,…

World War II Enemy Fire Front Line

War Porn: a novel of the Iraq war that rewards repeated rereading

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In the first year or so of the Iraq occupation — or ‘big Army goatfuck’, as it is not quite…

La Decalcomania by Rene Magritte (Photo: Getty)

The internal dreamworld of René Magritte

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Surrealism was, at least initially, as much about writing as painting. A plaque on the Hotel des Grands Hommes in…

Real human skull as crime scene

Murder in the blue lagoon

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Cher Hughes loved the beauty, the white sand beaches and sun-kissed climate of the tropical islands of Bocas del Toro…

The gardens at Stowe House c. 1785

Aristocratic 18th-century England was one long picnic

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Oh, the longueurs of aristocratic Georgian leisure. What on earth did they do all day, with no domestic chores, no…

Man with Smart Phone

Teju Cole: essays on the globalised world

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Born in Michigan, raised in Lagos and educated in London and New York, Teju Cole is about as cosmopolitan as…

Author Dave Eggers (Photo: Getty)

David Eggers takes us to the ends of the earth

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In The Circle, Dave Eggers’s satirical dystopia about an insatiable Google-like conglomerate, there’s a scene in which drones hound a…

Frederick I, aka Barbarossa, in Goslar, Germany (Photo: Getty)

Frederick Barbarossa: the Teutonic King Arthur

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Hitler, ever seeking to emulate strong German hero types (especially if their Christian name was Frederick), unsurprisingly named his great…

Sir Walter Scott and some of his most famous creations, by E.F. Skinner

Scottish literature’s long and splendid history

30 July 2016 9:00 am

There is an immediate problem for anyone producing a guide to places in Scotland with literary connections: as Walter Scott…

Crime Scene Investigation

Prince George County, Maryland — among the meanest streets in America

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Quick tip, should you ever find yourself alone in the interview room at the police headquarters of Prince George’s County,…

afraid

How I survived my nightmare upbringing, by Ariel Leve

30 July 2016 9:00 am

All parents worry about the extent to which their children will expose their private weirdness to the world. They tell…

David Bowie, photographed in 1978

Starstruck by David Bowie — and sadly lost for words

30 July 2016 9:00 am

On 11 January 2016 Paul Morley was awoken by an urgent voicemail from the Today Programme. Could he talk about…

Author Jonathan Ames (Photo: Getty)

You Were Never Really Here: a thrilling hammer horror

30 July 2016 9:00 am

‘Joe lay in bed in his mother’s house. He thought about committing suicide. Such thinking was like a metronome for…

Human hand touching illuminated lightbulb on gray background

Is there no such thing as new science?

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Rupert Sheldrake had it coming. In A New Science of Life (1981), he argued that animals and plants have inherited…

Old Book With Bright Light

St Mark’s Gospel is as good as EastEnders

30 July 2016 9:00 am

More brides in Britain go down the aisle to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ than to any other tune, Simon…

Just two of many controversial Games: Hitler’s racist jamboree in Berlin (above right); and the Stockholm Olympics, in which the brilliant Native American Jim Thorpe — sometimes regarded as the greatest athlete of all time — was stripped of his gold medals

The modern Olympics have always been a fiasco

30 July 2016 8:00 am

There’s nothing new about lying and cheating at the Olympics. Scandal has dogged the Games for well over a century, says David Horspool

Heath addresses a Tory party conference at Blackpool, while Margaret Thatcher looks on

Ted Heath: still a surly man of mystery

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Ted ‘Grocer’ Heath, as he will always be for me, was chosen by his fellow MPs to be their leader…

Mary Gaitskill (Photo: Getty)

The Mare: a story of longed-for children and what children long for

23 July 2016 9:00 am

How’s this for a heartwarming set-up­­? Forty-something recovering alcoholic and aspiring artist Ginger copes with the disappointment of being unable…

Cricket player hitting ball

It’s cricket, not football, that’s the beautiful game

23 July 2016 9:00 am

One day, many seasons ago, Jon Hotten was on the field when a bowler took all ten wickets. In his…

The lymphatic system of the human head, from a medical textbook of 1883

The enduring mystery of the human body

23 July 2016 9:00 am

It’s not unreasonable to expect that the anatomy syllabus for a medical degree should include breasts. Last year I performed…