John Warner: The Funny Man

“…a mulchy broth of satire, cultural commentary and La-Z-Boy philosophy that simmers away on lukewarm, only ever threatening to come to the boil…”

Judy Collins: Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

“…Judy Collins has had an extraordinary life, with many tragic turns…And she’s detailed them, along with many of the better times, in her new memoir…”

James Sallis: Drive

“…this is genre-fiction elevated somewhat by a writer who is clearly familiar with the genre that he is subverting…”

Future Media: edited by Rick Wilber

Reviewed by Jacob Knowles-Smith Norman Mailer hated television. He distrusted email. He even hated plastic. Marshall McLuhan was probably right, to some extent, to suggest that Mailer had a Victorian attitude towards technology. Other critics, past and present, will probably find sympathy with Mailer’s assertion that man’s relationship with technology is some kind of Faustian […]

Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett: Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel

Reviewed by Declan Tan Not every book looks and feels like an artefact when you pick it up. Oftentimes it is just words printed across cheap paper, the literal form of it separated from its content, cased in a merely functional cover with some gluey binding. But with Five Wounds, an “illuminated novel”, the very […]

Kevin Avery: Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life And Writings Of Paul Nelson

Reviewed by Robert O’Connor Frank Zappa once said “most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.” However true that might be, Paul Nelson was one who most definitely could write. And he interviewed people who could talk, and plenty of people read what he wrote. […]

Dan Fante: Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving

Reviewed by Declan Tan Opening with the familiar visions of snow from the likes of Wait Until Spring, Bandini and Dago Red (‘Bricklayer in the Snow’), Dan Fante kicks off, like Svevo and Arturo of his father’s novels, buried in an image of purest white. But this is a damned and dark tale, swirling in […]

Suraya Sadeed with Damien Lewis: Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse

Reviewed by Amanda Simms Suraya Sadeed’s memoirs begin with a dramatic recollection of smuggling $35,000 across the Afghanistan border beneath a burkha in 1998. What follows is a blend of autobiography, the history of the post-Soviet Afghanistan, as well as the development of her charity, Help the Afghan Children. Fleeing to the US after the […]

Tequila Tales: An Anthology of Short Fiction

Reviewed by Declan Tan The Tequila Tales anthology (edited by Millie Johanna Heur and Roy Anthony Shabla) is an eclectic mixture of genre, style and content that unites a well-published group of writers on the single and divisive subject of, yes, tequila. All of the work has in some way been licked by the liquid […]

Christopher Hitchens: Arguably (Atlantic Books)

Reviewed by Jacob Knowles-Smith The critic, wrote H.L. Mencken in his Prejudices, “makes the work of art live for the spectator; he makes the spectator live for the work of art”. If we take this as a fair and desirable definition of a critic; which, Mencken continues, results in “understanding, appreciation, [and] intelligent enjoyment”; then […]

Heidegger: Hederated or With Hakenkreuz?

Martin Heidegger: Routledge Critical Thinkers (2nd ed.), Timothy Clark. 197 pages. Routledge, London and New York. Reviewed by Jonathan Reynolds As postmodernism has faded for professional intellectuals in the West and also, still, because of his engagement with Nazism (unsettled whether flirtation or serious or profound), Heidegger is the one major modern philosopher who remains […]

Dog Man’s A Star: Howard Hardiman’s The Lengths

A comic book that tells the story of dog-headed gay male escorts living in a London world of sex, drug dealers and porn stars isn’t going to be the easiest sell to a casual reader. Certainly The Lengths won’t be for everyone, but Hardiman has taken this dark and potentially bleak backdrop and created a […]

Ipswich Zero 6: A Meeting with Ray Hollingsworth

There’s nothing new about writers using real crimes for research, but Ray Hollingsworth’s involvement in the high-profile murders of Ipswich working girls became a lot more personal. Jeanette Hewitt met the author to find out more In 2006, my hometown of Ipswich was catapulted into the global media by a serial killer preying on the […]

Jill McGivering: Far from my Father’s House

Jill McGivering is a BBC foreign correspondent and has reported from all over the world, including some of its poorest and most conflict scarred countries. In Far from my Father’s House, her second novel, she employs her wealth of experience in the field to tell tale of Layla, a young Muslim woman, and the destruction […]

Caitlin Moran: How To Be a Woman

Bible, manifesto, rant, autobiography, and instruction manual rolled into one. Reviewed by Vikki Littlemore Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman, putting water on the fire of my own year-long hope, is far from a how-to guide to being anything. What it is, essentially, is a reminiscence of a woman’s life, told with an ingeniously […]

Red Heat: Alex Von Tunzelmann

Alex Von Tunzelmann serves up a thrilling take on the Cold War. Reviewed by Vikki Littlemore Notwithstanding the racy title, it’s possible for Alex Von Tunzelmann’s Red Heat, a substantially detailed account of politics in the Caribbean, to appear intimidatingly opaque, or Everest-like, to the non-expert reader. Halfway down the first page, however, the fear […]

On Curling Up In A Ball: Ronald Dworkin: Justice For Hedgehogs

Ronald Dworkin’s latest book attempts to engage with moral truths and the pursuit of a meaningful life. Jacob Knowles-Smith reviews No mention of Professor Dworkin’s latest work, Justice for Hedgehogs, can pass by without the following: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. So goes the old fable. The hedgehog, […]

Charlie Hill: The Space Between Things

Reviewed by Declan Tan Charlie Hill’s debut novel seems already to have been pigeonholed as a love-story, a certainly tragic one, between its narrator, Arch (a character who has already made appearances on the independent literary scene) and Vee, the counterpoint to Arch’s solipsistic, inward-looking existence. Set in the early 1990s, the novel begins at […]

Repackaged Misogyny: Natasha Walter: Living Dolls

Jacob Knowles-Smith considers whether gender politics have lost their direction and clout through the prism of two recent books Anyone who has even the briefest acquaintance with nightclubs in recent years will have seen girls dressed as Playboy bunnies in almost just their underwear, replete with stockings and suspenders, quite as frequently as one will […]

Monster’s Ball: Trouble in the Congo

Greg Houle reviews Jason Stearns’ troubled history of the Congo Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. In one of the final chapters of Jason K. Stearns’ significant new book Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War […]