Cultural Life: A. L. Kennedy, novelist
Friday 16 March 2012
Books: I've just finished Russell Banks's Lost Memory Of Skin, which has its flaws, but the man can really write and he's passionate about social justice in America. He chose his country's most marginalised group [sex offenders] as his focus and continued with courage, for which he has my thanks. I've also been reading Daniel Simpson's A Rough Guide to the Dark Side – it's all about why he left The New York Times and the jaw-dropping realities of modern journalism. Great, funny, passionate stuff.
Film: The last film I saw was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which caused borderline rioting in Stratford-upon-Avon while I was there. Quite right, too. A lovely cast allowed to perform – no overblown CG effects, just actors who can really act, lifting something relatively slight into somewhere joyful and delivering stealth decency.
Music: As far as music goes, I am currently bouncing between Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan, with dashes of The Decembrists – always a sign that I'm on the road. They all keep me cheery on trains. I came to Dylan via Costello, which I know is back to front, but there's something about their crazed storytelling, idiosyncratic delivery and gift with words that really delights, even when I'm tired.
Visual arts: The last exhibition I saw was the Zoffany retrospective at the Royal Academy – thoroughly enjoyable. He was an exceptionally skilled, insightful and playful painter. His self-portraits are fascinating, witty and honest, and the sense of movement and life in all his portraits and groups is really wonderful. His ability to puzzle, please, amuse and shock is based on a real training in all the skills I feel an artist should have. He should be better known – not that it'll do him any good now...
A L Kennedy's 'The Blue Book' is on the long list for the Orange Prize
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 4 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Laughs go global as Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran bring international comedians to the Edinburgh Fringe
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women