Books

David Sedaris — doyen of deadpan drollery

27 May 2017 9:00 am

The bestselling humourist and New Yorker essayist David Sedaris is renowned for an almost hypnotic deadpan drollery and maybe especially…

Crimes against women

11 February 2017 9:00 am

There isn’t a clear line separating crime and literary fiction, but a border zone where ideas are passed from one…

The children looked like a cross between the Von Trapps and the aliens in The Midwich Cuckoos

How to become a successful cult leader: offer love, and then withdraw it

10 December 2016 9:00 am

When I was 22 I met a man called Yisrayl Hawkins who said his coming had been prophesied in the…

Blitzkrieg and Benzedrine: the German High Command were all as high as kites

8 October 2016 9:00 am

Norman Ohler is rather hard on the Nazis, for compared to what our little group got up to in the…

Addiction and the 'recovery' gurus who profit from it

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Perhaps because so many of them are former drunks and junkies, ‘addiction experts’ are touchy people. Often they don’t like…

Kathmandu is famously reputed to have more temples than houses, more idols than residents

Kathmandu — or don’t

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Although Nepal’s earthquake last April visited our television screens with images of seismic devastation, the disaster has probably had little…

The heartbreaking story of becoming homeless in America

9 April 2016 9:00 am

This is a very upsetting book. The Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond spent a year and a half living in low-income…

Hitting rock bottom in LA

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The title of this book tells you a lot. Jack Sutherland, who grew up in London and Los Angeles, worked…

Phil Lynott performs with Thin Lizzy (Photo: Getty)

Phil Lynott, from Dublin teenager to rock'n'roll burnout

27 February 2016 9:00 am

It’s often said that there are only seven basic plots in literature. When it comes to biographies of rock stars…

A local leader of the Mara gang (photo: Getty)

The new mafias that rule the world

30 January 2016 9:00 am

You may not have heard of the Maras. Or Barrio 18. Or the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or the Zatas,…

Life in Rio’s most infamous favela — where you have to pay the cops to arrest criminals

19 September 2015 8:00 am

When Stefan Zweig first arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1936, he was overwhelmed not only by the city’s magnificent…

When flower power turned sour

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Aldous Huxley reported his first psychedelic experience in The Doors of Perception (1954), a bewitching little volume that soon became…

Portrait of Jeanne Duval by Edouard Manet

The breasts that launched Les Fleurs du Mal

21 June 2014 8:00 am

This novel is based on the life of Charles Baudelaire and the relationship he enjoyed — or endured — with…

William S. Burroughs was a writer – not a painter, prophet, philosopher

8 February 2014 9:00 am

William S. Burroughs lived his life in the grand transgressive tradition of Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde and, like all…

Nowhere to go but down

21 April 2012 10:00 am

I am just old enough to remember the terrific fuss that was made about the first Scots literary renaissance when…

Blow-out in Berlin

28 August 2010 12:00 am

D. B. C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little was an unusual Man Booker winner (2003).

Why, oh why?

14 August 2010 12:00 am

In my many years as a judge for the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography, I have been constantly surprised by the high proportion of books that deal with the subject of adoption.

Same old perversions

24 July 2010 12:00 am

Memory Lane always looked so unthreatening to me.

Tracks through the wasteland

21 October 2009 12:00 am

Sex, and plenty of it. That’s certainly what Bunny Munro — the titular protagonist of Nick Cave’s second novel —…