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Busy doing nothing

Tom Hodgkinson is a 21st-century Luddite. He wishes we could smash the principles of capitalist consumerism that enslave most of the population so they can service their debts. In this beguiling book, he persuasively advocates idleness as the way to gain access to the creativity of the subconscious mind, or at least to enjoy a

That not impossible she

Matt Thorne’s new novel might have been more usefully subtitled ‘A Suspension of Disbelief’. A novel called Cherry about sexual desire and manipulation, about a real (or possibly imaginary and perhaps, at best, invented) woman called Cherry, and with a cherry on the jacket. A cherry surrounded by splashes of …what? Blood, ink, barbecue sauce?

A refusal to mourn

‘Every true writer becomes a writer because of a profound trauma experienced in youth or childhood,’ wrote Amos Oz in The Silence of Heaven, his study of the work of the Israeli Nobel-prize winner Shmuel Yosef Agnon. With reservations, he added, ‘We might venture to say that the flight of the narrator’s imagination is as

Where the funny meets the horrible

A century ago, Paradise might have appeared in the stout bindings of the Religious Tract Society and been distributed to the deserving young in the form of Sunday school prizes. Or perhaps not, given that it begins in the dining-room of an alien hotel where its heroine, all memory of her previous life temporarily erased,

The return of Cosa Nostra

When Silvio Berlusconi came to power for the second time in May 2001, in a landslide victory, Italy became unique among Western democracies: no other nation had at its head its richest citizen — the 35th richest man in the world — someone who also enjoyed a monopoly of the country’s private television broadcasting. More

A great-grandmother glimpsed

I have a faded photograph of Frances Osborne. I imagine the moment the picture was taken: perhaps she had just been told that this, her first book, would be published. She must have been happy and would have shared her happiness with her children, Luke and Liberty, who, I suppose, must have been happy, too.