Book review – memoir

An intense conversation about life, love and writing with Deborah Levy

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Deborah Levy draws her epigraph for The Cost of Living from Marguerite Duras’s Practicalities: ‘You’re always more unreal to yourself…

How I singlehandedly kept the Will Self industry going

28 April 2018 9:00 am

In 1994, Matthew De Abaitua, an aspiring writer and student on East Anglia’s Creative Writing MA, applies for a job…

Rose Tremain’s account of a loveless childhood leaves one aching for more

14 April 2018 9:00 am

1991, the Harbourfront Literary Festival in Toronto. The novelist Rose Tremain and the South African writer Carolyn Slaughter are enjoying…

Portrait of the reader as devoted book-owner: Alberto Manguel in happier days, at home in his library in France

Packing away my 35,000 books was like writing my own obituary

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Alberto Manguel is a kind of global Reader Laureate: he is reading’s champion, its keenest student and most zealous proselytiser,…

Free as a bird: the beauty and exhilaration of gliding

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Over the years I’ve been in touch with a number of middle-aged professionals who, despite the success they’ve found in…

Eilean Donan Castle on Skye, with peat bog and marsh in the foreground

For peat’s sake: Britain’s bogs and moorland in crisis

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In 2008, the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie characterised the typical exponent of modern nature writing as ‘the lone enraptured male’.…

Meeting the last Cuban fisherman to have known Ernest Hemingway

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In Havana, one week before President Obama unthawed half a century of cold relations with Cuba, I talked to the…

Jacques Lacan: shrink from hell or the greatest psychoanalyst since Freud?

The selfish shrink: life with Jacques Lacan

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Peyrot, the chef at Le Vivarois in Paris, had a fascinating theory of how one of his regulars, the otherwise…

Lucy Mangan has enough comic energy to power the National Grid

17 March 2018 9:00 am

After three hot-water-bottle-warmed evenings of highly satisfying bedtime reading, I can confirm that, even in a world where Francis Spufford’s…

Why I now find listening to Beethoven nauseating

10 March 2018 9:00 am

Stephen Bernard has led an institutionalised life. Behind the doors of the church presbytery, at public school, on hospital wards…

The miseries of diplomatic life: heat, bedbugs and endless cocktail parties

10 March 2018 9:00 am

The arrival at a new foreign posting for a junior diplomat’s wife in the first half of the last century…

Saul Bellow (centre): ‘He said he felt like Valjean, pursued by Inspector Javert through the sewers of Paris,’ says James Atlas. Above and left: Graham Greene and Anthony Powell were both better biographers than biographees

Biography is a thoroughly reprehensible genre

3 March 2018 9:00 am

Why do biographers insist on making neat patterns of their subjects’ lives? Roger Lewis finds it rigid, invasive and wrong

Be a spy like me, Charlotte Bingham’s father advises

3 March 2018 9:00 am

That there’s a direct correlation between sex and spying is probably Ian Fleming’s fault. Hard to think of Bond without…

What does it feel like to have Alzheimer’s? A sufferer provides a unique insight

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 58, three years ago. At the time, she was a…

Françoise Frankel: a spirited woman on the run in Occupied France

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Françoise Frenkel was a Polish Jew, who adored books and spent much of her early life studying and working in…

Mussolini’s fall from grace

11 November 2017 9:00 am

These days it is fashionable to claim Mussolini as a fundamentally decent fellow led astray by an opportunist alliance with…

The bee orchid, by Franz Andreas Bauer. Its sex life is far beyond the dreams of most teenage boys

Will orchid mania be the next gap year phenomenon?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Who would want to read a whole book about a teenage boy’s gap year? When most 18-year-olds take time off…

Michael Rosen reveals what a nasty place 1950s Britain was

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1952, the five-year-old Michael Rosen and his brother were taken on holiday along the Thames by their communist parents.…

Sex and the sect: the infamous Brethren

19 August 2017 9:00 am

You can never completely leave a religious cult, as this strange and touching memoir demonstrates. Patterns of thinking, turns of…

Was the artist of Lascaux just desperate for peace?

The magic of limestone country

22 July 2017 9:00 am

‘It was a shock, and an epiphany,’ says Fiona Sampson, to realise that many of her favourite places were built…

Chris Patten: ‘wearing red feathers (and a Hula-Hula skirt)’

22 July 2017 9:00 am

My old friend Richard Ingrams was said always to write The Spectator’s television reviews sitting in the next-door room to…

The influence of the sun, moon and stars on reading the signs of the Kabbalah

The mystical appeal of Judaism

1 July 2017 9:00 am

This extraordinary book has two main characters: Gershom Scholem (1897–1982), an early Zionist and the founder of the modern study…

My father the bigamous sociopath — by Molly Brodak

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Molly Brodak, a fair, young Polish-American born in Michigan, is a winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. Iowa: that hotbed…

The Gift of Patience: the pair reach safety in Maiduguri

Boko Haram’s massacre of the innocents

3 June 2017 9:00 am

The group of kidnapped women were terrified. They had been brought back to the camp as booty and were being…

Brava Bella Pollen

3 June 2017 9:00 am

I like Bella Pollen for her open-mindedness, self-deprecation and verve. Given her early success as a fashion designer — top…