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 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 4 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
- 5 Teen suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of deputy PM
Daredevil, Netflix, TV review: Marvel wins first fight in bid for television domination with Charlie Cox's superhero vigilante
London art exhibition features portrait of Iraqi migrant shot dead in Iraq after being refused UK asylum
Grace Dent on TV: Peter Kay's Car Share made me genuinely LOL
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds