Saturday 22 March 1997
Not Entitled by Frank Kermode (Flamingo, pounds 6.99) "Between these origins and that ending is where the weather is, fair or foul: the climate of a life. Not as some have said, a dream, but a climate, a microclimate, le temps qu'il fait." You do not get the impression, on reading this autobiography, that the sun ever quite came out for Frank Kermode. He inclines towards a weary acceptance of a life that has been nobody else's fault. This is surprising in one who, in his critical writings at least, has always seemed to be good at chasing away clouds - of bigotry, suspicion, muddle. He writes about his poor childhood on the Isle of Man, his wartime career in the navy, his long years as an academic with grace and honesty, but reports a feeling of having always been "where one is not entitled to be". A book full of odd, signposted omissions, unsatisfactory only in its brevity and mild asperity.
An Italian Education by Tim Parks (Minerva, pounds 6.99) This is novelist Tim Parks's second contribution to that potentially exasperating genre of books by English people who have made their lives in a Mediterranean country. He tries to slip in a few provisos, but you feel the hardships of his existence could be counted on the toes of his delightful half-Italian offspring. Parks's friendly tone, his endearing habit of trying to be wry and play down the pleasure of it all, saves him from the worst pitfalls of Mayle-ism.
The Shadow Man by Mary Gordon (Bloomsbury, pounds 7) This riveting investigative memoir of Mary Gordon's Jewish father, an American of Polish origin who converted to Catholicism, bears a strangely ambiguous title. Her beloved father is later discovered to have been a flagrant anti-Semite, inept writer and mythomaniac. But it is not so much he who has cast the shadow as Gordon herself. If successful analysis means the transformation of ghosts into ancestors, this work may not have fulfilled its purpose. David Gordon's ghost is there to the last page, warming and chilling, plaguing and soothing.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Church of Scientology allegedly sent threatening letters to film distributors and festivals showing damning documentary
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl performs with broken leg seated on massive throne made of guitars
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture