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 (above), 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 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 Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
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 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview is finally released after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food