I’m glad Norman Scott can say he has ‘always had the ability to laugh at the absurdity’ of his existence because, as detailed here in a long-awaited memoir, I too couldn’t stop shrieking, he is so tragic. When he came home unexpectedly as a youngster, for example, and witnessed his mother having sex in the lounge with a telephone engineer, he was so shocked he dropped his tortoise. ‘The terrible guilt over my tortoise stayed with me,’ he writes – maybe until just the other day.
When the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy, in the person of that ‘lovely black boy’ Charles II, was announced in May 1660 it was with a flourish of public amnesia. Charles had, it was declared, already been king for 11 years, from the moment in January 1649 when his father had been unlawfully executed.
Such acts of contrived forgetting were not unprecedented in English history. William the Conqueror effaced Harold’s short reign from the records and Henry VII did much the same for Richard III.
In 2010, Mark Kennedy, a tattooed social justice warrior, was exposed as an undercover police officer. In this guise he infiltrated climate change activist groups and in the meantime formed a number of sexual relationships with fellow activists. Kennedy manipulated and deceived several women, including ‘Lisa’, with whom he formed a particularly close bond, while his wife and children were left in the dark about his exploits.
‘Who is AOC?’ the back cover of this book asks. ‘A wack job!’ says Donald Trump. ‘She needs to run for president when she turns 35,’ Cardi B explains. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest congresswoman in America. She goes by her initials (like FDR and JFK) and is
a Latina from the Bronx and Westchester, with no background in policy making, a bartender. She has a boyfriend; she uses social media to communicate with fans and fight with political foes, and also to cook ramen noodles in front of millions of people while chatting with them about structural inequality and mass incarceration.
There was a time when you could read a book to keep up to date about a subject. Well, that’s over. If a week is a long time in politics, in crypto it’s like a geological period. By the time a book on crypto hits the shelves it needs to be in the ancient history section.
The Cryptopians is an attempt to sum up ‘the first big cryptocurrency craze’ by Laura Shin, a financial journalist who writes for Forbes and who has a successful crypto podcast.
If you have ever thought that there cannot be anything new to say or to learn about the Queen, you have not yet read Robert Hardman’s revelatory new biography of her in this, her astonishing Platinum Jubilee year.
Hardman has spent the past 30 years researching and understanding the British monarchy, and he writes with an extraordinary fount of knowledge but, even more important, with a heartfelt appreciation of what has been called ‘the genius of constitutional monarchy’ and for the members of the family who implement it.
‘Whenever you see a character in a novel, let alone a biography or history book, reduced and neatened into three adjectives, always distrust that description.’ So says the protagonist of Julian Barnes’s latest novel, the poised, droll, epigrammatic Elizabeth Finch, who is loosely modelled on his late friend and fellow Booker Prize-winner Anita Brookner. A lecturer delivering an adult education course on Culture and Civilisation, an exercise she considers ‘rigorous fun’, she introduces her students to figures such as Goethe and Epictetus.