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.
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
- 2 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Downton Abbey fans unimpressed by Kindle sponsorship adverts
Thomas Heatherwick creates gin palace with a fantastical Willy Wonka vibe
Cilla, episode 2, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith continues to shine
Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
The Lion King becomes biggest grossing musical ever
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God