John Phipps

The extraordinary case of Malcolm MacArthur

Non-fiction tells you what happened, fiction affirms the kinds of things that happen. According to Aristotle, anyway. So while journalism seeks out unlikely events, fiction creates pleasing inevitabilities. The problem as it pertains to our brave narrative podcasters is that they have to straddle the two worlds: their material must be interesting and unusual, but

The cruelty of reality TV was part of the appeal

Jade Goody appeared on Big Brother in 2002. She was a short, loud, blonde-haired woman who broadcast her every thought and feeling, either in her thick Cockney accent or with her unforgettable face. She became a star. In 2007 she appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, where she made racist comments about her fellow contestant, the

Don’t read Ulysses; listen to it

Dublin. 16 June 1904. A little after 8 a.m. Two men – both annoying, one stung with grief and ambition – are having an argument. One is pierced by thoughts of his late mother. ‘Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart.’ She has come to him in a dream smelling

Lost in the fog: The Fell, by Sarah Moss, reviewed

Novelists are leery about letting the buzzwords of recent history into their books. The immediate past threatens to upstage the imagined world with its reality, and at the same time diminish it with the cardboard tang of everyday life. Sarah Moss, by contrast, has never been embarrassed to lend her prose the texture of contemporary

Much smarter than your average podcast: Passenger List reviewed

Passenger List opens with a carefully structured ripple of breaking news bulletins: a mysterious catastrophe, an unconvincing official explanation, the repetitive stupidity that surrounds disaster. A plane has disappeared, no wreckage has been found. A woman whose brother was on board begins to search for the truth. The authorities say it was a bird strike:

It’s almost touching that the NFT world sees itself as radical

Some things are explained so many times that they become unexplainable: we can only relate to them as something complicated that needs to be explained. The global financial crisis was like this. Crypto-currencies were like this too. The newest thing that exists to be explained is the world of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. NFTs are