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Hilary Mantel: 'I'm reading How to Write Like Tolstoy - I live in hope'

The award-winning novelist gives her favourite cultural picks


I’m reading in manuscript a book to be published next spring, Richard Cohen’s How to Write Like Tolstoy; I live in hope. Meanwhile, I’m dwelling On Silbury Hill with novelist and poet Adam Thorpe. And brooding over The Pirotechnia, by Vannoccio Biringuccio, first published in Venice in 1540. It’s a work on metallurgy. I need to discover what a 16th-century blacksmith knew about his craft.


The new Tom Petty, Hypnotic Eye. Which means time to re-listen to early releases, and finds me careering recklessly ahead, into 1976.


Stacked up are films I missed, including The Wolf of Wall Street. And Blue Jasmine: whether I admire it or not, I can rejoin those greying, head-shaking bores who drone on about Woody Allen’s career highs and lows.

Visual Arts

Daily e-mail images supply my own private exhibition, courtesy of photographer George Miles. His witty and mysterious pictures skewer the dark heart of kitsch, precisely locate the strangeness within the banal, see into the deep layers of landscape and nudge everyday objects towards sinister and plural meanings.

Before this, paintings have helped me write, but George Miles appears to be photographing the inside of my head.

Hilary Mantel joins Harriet Walter in a talk, To Tell the Truth, about getting to grips with a character, Union Chapel, London N1 (rslit.org) 11 September