Saturday 12 April 1997
Acts of Revision by Martyn Bedford (Black Swan, pounds 5.99) Gregory Lynn has no stake in the adult world. "Orphan, bachelor and only child from the age of four and a half", he hides out in his mum's suburban semi living on fried eggs and Fanta, obsessed by childhood slights and miseries. Unhinged by his mother's death, he decides to seek out his secondary school teachers and give them a much-needed lesson in pain and humiliation. Told in a series of grisly vignettes, the novel describes the appropriate punishments Gregory metes out to his erstwhile tormentors. (Pity poor Mr Patrick who taught him the causes of the French Revolution.) Grange Hill meets Seven in this slick and funny first novel.
The Oxford Book of Nature Writing edited by Richard Mabey (OUP, pounds 7.99) After sternly declaring "The pieces included in this text are all factual prose", it is unfortunate that the first choice commences: "Once upon a time there was a fierce war waged between the Birds and the Beasts ..." But once Aesop is out of the way, nature reveals its incomparable superiority of invention compared to the weedy efforts of man. Mabey demonstrates how nature has consistently inspired tender, perceptive writing by both scientists and literati. The poet William Cowper writes movingly about the different personalities in a family of hares he adopted, while biologist Niko Tinderman notes that by marking wasps "they were transformed into acquaintances". This is one of the most readable and revealing of anthologies.
The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter (HarperCollins, pounds 8.99) Not to be confused with the vocal harmony group The Inkspots - though they were of much the same period - the Inklings were a weedy bunch of Oxford eggheads who liked nothing better than a natter about Beowulf while knocking back a noggin or two. They revolved round C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien and Charles Williams (who, unlike the other two, did not gain a vast readership for his cranky thrillers). Despite an unfortunate chapter devoted to an imaginary record of this dusty gang ("Well, Tollers, I still don't know how you keep up your story so magnificently. It hasn't flagged for a moment"), Carpenter's masterly portrait of intellectuals at play is unexpectedly entertaining. Whether their demanding company would be so enjoyable in the flesh is doubtful.
Appassionata by Jilly Cooper (Corgi, pounds 6.99) Only Jilly Cooper could get away with a sexy blockbuster set among the stars of the international classical music circuit. Well, not sexy exactly, but definitely gap-toothed earthy. These pointy-bosomed flautists, big-bottomed sopranos and pig- tailed conductors don't sit about in hotel rooms practising their scales. They're out seducing the socks off each other, especially the book's heroine, Abigail Rosen, a highly strung violinist turned conductor who is prepared to sacrifice everything for a night of passion in an airport Hilton. Even though they have exchanged riding whips for batons and bows, Cooper's characters might just as well be mounting horses as podiums, but, being the old pro that she is, it doesn't seem to matter.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Strictly Come Dancing v X Factor: Simon Cowell blasts BBC over scheduling war
Doctor Who series 8: Ofcom will not investigate lesbian kiss
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
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