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
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre