wed 22/10/2014

BOOKS reviews of books about culture

theartsdesk at the Port Eliot Festival

Mark Hudson

Remember when festivals were only about what they were ostensibly about? When, say, Reading offered nothing beyond hard rock bar disgusting toilets, overpriced hamburgers and the prospect of a punch-...

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Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

Ismene Brown

In the midst of ferment as the arts world faces fast-shrinking public subsidy, Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the BBC World Service and the Barbican Arts Centre, publishes this week a...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Biographer Claire Tomalin on Charles Dickens

Jasper Rees

The tally of Charles Dickens’s biographers grows ever closer to 100. The English language’s most celebrated novelist repays repeated study, of course, because both his life and his work are so...

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'Books have been my life': Doris Lessing

Jasper Rees

Doris Lessing’s storm-tossed life would make a stirring biopic. She spent her early years on an isolated farm in the Southern Rhodesian veldt, abandoned the children of her first marriage to take up...

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Immigration riots and the hand of Shakespeare

Jonathan Bate and...

It begins on the street, nastily. An immigrant has got his hands on an English woman. Trouble is brewing. Then there is a dispute about money, involving a “Lombard” – the identification originally...

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Listed: Who shot/staged/fictionalised JFK?

theartsdesk

On 22 November 1963 President John F Kennedy was shot, yoking his name to an ex-marine and sometime defector to the USSR called Lee Harvey Oswald. Everyone old enough to remember is said to know...

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10 Questions for Count Arthur Strong

Jasper Rees

Autumn is a season of tumbling leaves, dark afternoons and of course fatuous memoirs from people off the telly. But every so often the world is taken by surprise, less by autumn itself than by the...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Writer David Storey, pt 2

Jasper Rees

In Radcliffe, an early novel by David Storey, one character murders another with a telling blow from a hammer. The author was later advised that Kenneth Halliwell was reading Radcliffe on the night...

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Extract: George Harrison - Behind the Locked Door

Graeme Thomson

Following the completion of the White Album, and the conclusion of recording sessions in Los Angeles with new Apple signing Jackie Lomax, in late November 1968 George Harrison and his wife Pattie...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Sex researcher Shere Hite

Jasper Rees

This week Channel 4 embarks on a season of programmes about sex. Real sex, it claims, in real British bedrooms. A new series called Masters of Sex dramatises the story of William Masters and Virginia...

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Extract: That's Not Funny, That's Sick

Ellin Stein

Christened the Blues Brothers, Elwood and Jake’s first public appearance was as the warm-up act Lorne Michaels used to put the studio audience in a receptive mood before the show started. The...

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Frozen Gold: Iain (M) Banks, 1954-2013

Jasper Rees

Iain Banks, who has died at the age of 59 only two months after revealing that he was suffering from terminal cancer, was a leading purveyor of contemporary fiction. Iain M Banks was eminent in the...

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Extract: The Show Must Go On (2012)

Gareth Davies

As we approach the end of what feels like a long season of concerts, I cannot think of a more satisfying way to finish than with Bernard Haitink on the podium. All conductors have different styles,...

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Extract: The Show Must Go On (1912)

Gareth Davies

New York City, the movie star, is so familiar now even to those who have never visited that it’s difficult to imagine the impact on the LSO players of arriving there for the first time. As they stood...

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10 Questions for Musician Cerys Matthews

Jasper Rees

“He who sings frightens away his ills.” Cerys Matthews has spent a lifetime heeding the wise counsel of Don Quixote. Born at the tailend of the Sixties, she grew up in the Welsh tradition of musical...

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theartsdesk at the 26th Hay Festival

Jasper Rees

Which came first: the performance or the platform? Writers used to say that festivals were never part of the deal. They’ve long since stopped now that the publishing industry has changed and the...

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Extract: England My England - Anglophilia Explained

Mark Dery

Are Anglophiles born or made? Or cultured in a medium of suet and sentimentality, romanticism and Marmite? Inexplicably, this question has gone begging, at least in the States. Perhaps American...

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Extract: Mariachi, Machetes, Meths - Manu Chao in Mexico

Peter Culshaw

Lake Chapalá begins just south of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. In case there’s any doubt we’re in Mexico, a mariachi band are propositioning the families who stroll along the waterfront and...

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Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao

Peter Culshaw

Manu Chao isn’t exactly a household name in the UK. In much of Latin America and Europe, however, he’s an iconic figure who is probably the closest thing to Bob Marley there is, a symbol of hope for...

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10 Questions for Alexander McCall Smith

Jasper Rees

Alexander McCall Smith is Scottish, and writes fiction, but he doesn’t write “Scottish fiction” as most of us understand the term. In his world view there are no used needles and discarded condoms...

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10 Questions for Writer David Mitchell

Jasper Rees

“If you show someone something you’ve written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin and say, ‘When you’re ready.’” The words belong to Jason Taylor, the stammering 13-year-old...

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Infinite Jest: Dave Eggers on David Foster Wallace

Dave Eggers

A new edition of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, with an introduction by Dave Eggers, forms part of a series of classic reissues from Abacus. The publishing imprint this year reaches its 40th...

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Extract: Heads and Straights

Lucy Wadham

The first time I admitted publicly to having been brought up in Chelsea I was 35 and at the launch party for my first novel, which was being held in a Tapas bar in Clapham. At that stage in my...

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Lives in Music #1: Rod the Autobiography

Jasper Rees

What makes a good rock biography? Sex, naturally. Drugs, frequently. Rock’n’roll, obviously. None of the above are in short supply in Rod Stewart’s account of a long life spent howling into...

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Extract: In Two Minds - Jonathan Miller

Kate Bassett

When I first mentioned to a colleague that I was embarking on a biography of the doctor/director Jonathan Miller, he instantly yelped, “My God, your work’s cut out! The man must have met half the...

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Stone Free: Andrew Loog Oldham

Kieron Tyler

The return of The Rolling Stones to the world stage is headline news, but the man who put them there in the first place has decided to reveal the tricks of being an impresario, the hustler that can...

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Extract: Etc Etc Amen

theartsdesk

When Zachary C noticed his audience were no longer beguiled by his best Zachary B smile, he arranged for his chargrilled-sweetcorn teeth to be replaced by a mouthful of ultraviolet-sensitive acrylic...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Novelist Hilary Mantel

Jasper Rees

Hilary Mantel has made literary history. Wolf Hall, an action-packed 650-page brick of a book about the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. Its successor, the...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Writer Michael Frayn

Jasper Rees

Michael Frayn (b 1933) has been having an annus mirabilis. The play the hapless actors of Noises Off are touring is called Nothing On. In the playwright’s case, almost everything has been on. Frayn’s...

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Angela Carter: Inside the Bloody Chamber

Susannah Clapp

Eighteen months before her death from lung cancer at the age of 51, Angela Carter talked to Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour. She had just edited The Virago Book of Fairy Tales (1990), a rich stew of...

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Welsh Week: Dinefwr, Adain Avion, Llangollen, BrynFest

Jasper Rees

This Friday afternoon at five o’clock, the National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke will recite a new poem and initiate a seismic week of Welsh cultural exploration. The inaugural Dinefwr Literary...

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Extract: The Stone Roses - War and Peace

theartsdesk

There is film footage of those opening magical, transformative moments: of Brown intoning, “The time, the time is now. Do it now, do it now.” Film, however, could not capture the effect the band’s...

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Like its marooned middle-managers, Tim Firth's comedy loses its way

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Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper reunite. What can possibly go wrong?

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Kander & Ebb's startling, stirring musical gets a West End upgrade

The Way He Looks

Gentle Brazilian gay adolescent drama rings stronger that its story suggest...

DVD: Blacula - The Complete Collection

Surprisingly straight Blaxploitation with fangs

 
 

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