PAPERBACKS

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, Bloomsbury, pounds 6.99. The Canadian poet, Anne Michaels, won last year's Orange Prize with Fugitive Pieces which was a bestseller wherever it was published, and was greeted with the highest critical acclaim. It is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel, that is at once intensely personal, well-researched and profound. It centres on Jakob Beer, a young Jewish boy rescued from the ruins of Poland during the Second World War by Athos, a Greek geologist who takes the boy back to his island where he tries to rebuild his life. Jakob's family vanished in the ghettoes, but their ghosts make sudden appearances that leave him feeling as though he is constantly chasing shadows. Years later, he becomes a famous poet (words offer "an alphabet without memory", and so a relief from the pain of his childhood), and a young student, Ben, decides to research his life. He himself is the offspring of Holocaust survivors, and finds echoes of his own past in Jakob's. The layers of prose are as richly detailed as the rocks Athos studies, and Michaels's poetic gifts are given full flight - each page is studded with metaphors offering piercing insight into the workings of time and memory. In a sense, Michaels is a better poet than novelist - moments of intense recognition, refrains, reprises and counterpoints do not help Jakob's story to be told, and sometimes there is a repetitiveness in the two main protagonists' experience of life. But the cumulative effect is that of a symphony of grief, exile and longing.

Freudian Tales: About Imagined Men, Janet Sayers, Vintage, pounds 7.99. Janet Sayers is Professor of Psychoanalytic Psychology at the University of Kent, and has gathered together 15 case studies that provide instances of the damage done to both sexes by our notions of masculinity. She also attempts to redress the balance of "mother-centred" psychoanalytic theory, citing Melanie Klein as responsible for driving the father out of the oedipal drama. In their place, she argues, we construct fantasies of "epic male figures", one of which is the "Pervert" whom she envisions as Mr Benn of the children's TV series, "who fetishistically looks to the shopkeeper of a fancy-dress store to equip him with a variety of heroic garbs to cover up his felt lack of manliness". Although Sayers burdens her thesis, and patronises her readers, with ill-chosen illustrations from the world of popular culture, this is a serious attempt to continue Freud's project of exposing the "shortfall between our defensive, pleasure driven dreams and reality". As such, she urges us to move out of "patriarchal heaven", and back into therapy.

Blow Job, Stewart Home, Serpent's Tail. Paperback original, pounds 7.99. Skinhead author Stewart Home writes under the influence of the 1970s cult writer Richard "Suedehead" Allen. Hard-nuts with names like "Bogroll Bates" and "Jackboots Houghton" populate his highly politicised writing and spout reams of fascist anarchist drivel in a laboured attempt at satirising their position. Home's latest novel takes up the theme of urban sub- culture engaging in State-manufactured, internecine violence. Steve Drummond, the anarchist leader of "Class Justice", finds himself drawn into a conflict between a crew of renegade anarchists and the "Anglo-Saxon Movement". Other groups - the "White Seed of Christ," the "Spartacist Workers Group" to name but two - join in the fray just to complicate matters. The tone is nasty, the attitude offensive, the point being to expose fascism and anarchism as one and the same. Drummond eventually gives up the class struggle and resolves instead "to concentrate on what he was good at, pulling blokes and facilitating media representations of revolt!" With its overt political agenda, this is a strangely old-fashioned novel, but Home is more interested in the position of the proletariat within a capitalist hegemony (to coin a weary phrase) than in following literary trends.

Just The One: The Wives and Times of Jeffrey Bernard, 1932-1997, Graham Lord, Headline pounds 7.99. Jeffrey Bernard, the legendary journalist, spent over 40 years going down the pub "for a quick one" and writing his "suicide note in weekly instalments" for The Spectator until he decided, last year, to turn off his dialysis machine. Lord's biography recounts in grisly detail Bernard's 500 lovers, four marriages and careers as gigolo, navvy, fairground boxer and racing correspondent. He is careful not to lionise him, but provides little-known particulars of the Bernard family's secrets and a frank and unforgiving assessment of this last-of-the-great boozer's life.

Lights out for the Territory, Iain Sinclair, Granta pounds 7.99. Iain Sinclair writes prophetically about London and his long journeys on foot from Hackney to Chingford, across the City (penetrating its "ring of steel" and corporate culture) to Lambeth and Millbank. He records the arcane cultural life and secret symbols of the capital, as he traces the leylines along which Hawksmoor built his churches. Pitbulls at their most terrifying and graffiti as its most obscure fill Sinclair with dazzling visions of the city as dystopia. This is psychogeography at its most enthralling and humorous. As Peter Ackroyd said: "It is a book about London; in other words, a book about everything."

Rarely are film tie-in books so lavish, glossy and detailed as The Story of the Fifth Element (Titan Books, pounds 24.99). Subtitled 'The Adventure and Discovery of a Film', this is an exhaustive treatment, seen through the eyes of director Luc Besson. There are storyboards, magazine covers, costume designs and set sketches (above), alongside a week-by-week history of the project from first glimmer to final product. We see Milla Jovovich as the alien Leeloo, modelling her fantastically unflattering costume (big knickers and bandages). We get a Leeloo glossary (Maata patou: to be sad; Tay tay kita: strange); we get star biogs, gossip and glimpses of material that hit the cutting-room floor. And for all that, the film was not a critical success (though boorish Bruce Willis didn't enhance its chances by his graceless behaviour at Cannes). 'I overreached myself. To be both entertaining and philosophical was beyond my powers," concludes Besson.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future