Saturday 09 August 1997
Alan Bennett: in a manner of speaking by Daphne Turner (Faber, pounds 9.99) You can see why Bennett wasn't keen on being the subject of a full-scale lit crit study. "We hear a great deal about lavatories in the plays," comments Turner, before embarking on a po-faced analysis of the comic masterpiece, Forty Years On. Her perceptions are keen-eyed and intelligent - "his plays are constantly interested in people who are trapped and caged" - but the ironic humour which is central to Bennett's oeuvre evaporates when placed under the critical microscope.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (Picador, pounds 5.99) Fans of Bridget Jones's weekly diary in The Independent will be glad to find that one of the happier years in her life is now heading the paperback bestseller chart in novel form. Not that Bridget's metamorphosis from Home Alone singleton into the kind of woman men like to take on weekend mini-breaks happens overnight. Before she drives into the sunset with a nerd in a diamond-patterned sweater she has to get over her crush on Daniel Cleaver, the rogue male in the publishing house where she works. And lose half a stone before Christmas. And give up smoking.
Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray (Prospect, pounds 12.99) Part memoir, part cook-book, this quirky classic is the fruit of a 30-year stint accompanying a sculptor around Italian and Greek marble quarries. No book plumbs deeper into the Mediterranean culinary tradition. Gray is wonderfully evocative about ingredients and techniques - though it is doubtful how many readers will try Gummarieddi (young lamb's pluck cooked on the spit). In the section on lentils, the author finds room for a disquisition on farting in EngLit.
Jim Thompson: Omnibus 2 (Picador, pounds 8.99) It would be hard to imagine a more pathetic bunch of low-lifes than the inhabitants of Jim Thompson's Fifties paperbacks. His door-to-door salesmen, hotel bell-boys and punch- drunk boxers are looking for any action they can get, but don't know what to do when the great-looking "babe" finally arrives. While the first Omnibus contained Thompson's best-known novels, this volume makes available five more, including Savage Night and A Hell of a Woman. Noir at its darkest ... and daftest.
Graceland: going home with Elvis by Karal Ann Marling (Harvard, pounds 9.95) In this brilliant, if highly personal, guide to both the man and his home, Marling explains how the Presley shrine differs from other places of tourist pilgrimage: "The house is full of things that we all have or used to have, or used to want, or hate." Though it is easy to scoff at Graceland's decor ("a violent Christmastime-lipstick-cherry-coke-fire-engine-hellfire red") and the Polynesian-themed Jungle Den, Marling insists that Elvis was "the last great Dixie regionalist", on a par with William Faulkner.
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Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Breaking Bad season 6 is still not happening
Disney announces new female-led film Moana
Eight seconds of white noise is top of the Canadian iTunes chart because people love Taylor Swift that much
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt is intriguing as unsympathetic war hero
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world