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Spirits of the Blitz

If the early Martin Amis is instantly recognisable by way of its idiosyncratic slang (‘rug-rethink’, ‘going tonto’ etc) then the later Pat Barker can be similarly identified by its finely… Read more The post Spirits of the Blitz appeared first on The Spectator.

Red for danger

‘Gentlemen prefer blondes,’ Anita Loos pronounced, ‘but gentlemen marry brunettes.’ Quite what they do with redheads she never revealed (and I’ve often wondered), but with Red: A Natural History of… Read more The post Red for danger appeared first on The Spectator.

A rollicking satire on the way we live now

Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Purity, comes with great expectations. Its author’s awareness of this fact is signalled by a series of lampoons of writers expected to produce ‘big books’, writers… Read more The post A rollicking satire on the way we live now appeared first on The Spectator.

Another near run thing

Charles VI of France died on 21 October 1422. He had been intermittently mad for most of his long reign, ‘a pathetic figure’ flitting, often witless, around his palaces. He… Read more The post Another near run thing appeared first on The Spectator.

It happened one summer

Five songs, only three of which were amplified. Thirty-five minutes, including interruptions. That’s how long Bob Dylan played for at Newport Folk Festival on Sunday 25 July 1965. Even on… Read more The post It happened one summer appeared first on The Spectator.

First-rate firsts

It has become something of a truism among writers’ groups and in articles offering advice on how best to secure the services of an agent or publisher that the opening… Read more The post First-rate firsts appeared first on The Spectator.

The day of reckoning is nigh

I think this should begin with a truth-in-journalism disclosure: I know R.W. Johnson well enough to call him Bill. Since this opens me to charges of bias, let me start… Read more The post The day of reckoning is nigh appeared first on The Spectator.

Life with old father William

This intensely written memoir by Adam Mars-Jones about his Welsh father, Sir William, opens with the death of Sheila, Adam’s mother, of lung cancer in 1998: ‘She died with self-effacing… Read more The post Life with old father William appeared first on The Spectator.

Gothic mysteries

This is a muddle of novel (originally published last year by Tartarus Press in a limited edition), though there are plenty of indications that the author will go on to… Read more The post Gothic mysteries appeared first on The Spectator.

YA Book Club: John Green Answers Your Questions

John Green's "Paper Towns" is our book club read for August and he answered some questions from our readers. See what he has to say about his characters, Walt Whitman, and more, and vote for the September YA book club pick at the same time...

Jonathan Franzen Is Having More Fun Than His Critics

Jonathan Franzen’s fifth novel, Purity, appears, like his previous one, Freedom, amid the media equivalent of the fog of war. There have been trumpeted interviews and fatuous raves, but also misleading headlines, Twitter diatribes, backlashes to the backlash and a deluge of emptily sassy online retorts aggregating all of the above. Show More Summary

Are You Botching Hyphenation?

A lot of people screw up hyphenation. Please note that it's not: A lot of people screw-up hyphenation. If I'd written that, it would be a screw-up. Hyphenation can be tricky. There's widespread confusion, it seems, about when and how the tiny line segments should and shouldn't be used. Show More Summary

ArtsBeat: Biography of Jimmy Carter Is in the Works

Kai Bird, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will write a biography of former President Jimmy Carter for Crown Publishing Group.

Biography of Jimmy Carter Is in the Works

Kai Bird, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will write a biography of former President Jimmy Carter for Crown Publishing Group.

Classical Playlist: Mahler and Killer Tuba Songs

Times critics share what they’ve been listening to lately.

How Alasdair Gray Reimagined Glasgow

The Citizens Theatre is located in the Gorbals, a historically poor and relatively abandoned area of Glasgow, south of the River Clyde. I arrived there on a gray day in the first half of August, after walking by the water through misty rain, alongside skimming seagulls. Show More Summary

Great Job, Internet!: This DC Comics Style Guide showcases a happily employed Justice League

It’s hard to keep track of superheroes these days. DC had to press the reset button with the “New 52,” but that still doesn’t solve the problem of Batman’s countless sidekicks, protégés, and offspring, and we’re still seeing weird offshoot Supermen. Show More Summary

Review: 'I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir' by Lee Grant

Of late, meaning the last few years, coming to myself in the dark woods in the middle of my life, I read autobiographies of interesting women. They are my guides as I navigate a way that is lost only because it isn’t found yet—because I haven’t lived it. Show More Summary

Cookbook Review: The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Last fall Rose Levy Beranbaum published her latest cookbook, The Baking Bible. This is Rose's 9th cookbook and follows in the tradition of The Cake Bible, The Bread Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose's Heavenly Cakes and all the rest. Now, "bible" is a strong word. Show More Summary

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