Paperbacks

Watermark by Joseph Brodsky (Penguin, pounds 6.99) For anyone going to Venice, this slim volume of shimmering prose deserves a place alongside J G Links's incomparable handbook. You would not, however, expect a poet's view of La Serenissima to serve quite the same function as an orthodox guide: "the eye, our only raw, fishlike internal organ, indeed swims here. It darts, flaps, oscillates, dives...". Brodsky's brilliant reflections are the distillation of almost two decades of annual visits, always in winter and up to a month in length. As in the city itself, you may lose your bearings, but the experience remains constantly entrancing.

Hanging Up by Delia Ephron (Fourth Estate, pounds 6.99) A high-gloss take on a familiar American theme, the alcoholic parent. Based on Ephron's famous family, this novel largely consists of zappy dialogue, often via the phone, as when Eve, the narrator, mishears her father's slurred announcement of his first overdose as "I took No-Doz" (an over-the-counter stimulant). The terminal scenes in a geriatric clinic are vivid and moving, but much of the book consists of self-absorbed gabbing by Eve and her two sisters. An easy but shallow read, like flipping through a photo album. Unsurprisingly, the film rights have already been sold and sister Nora is slated to direct.

Flight Paths of the Emperor by Steven Heighton (Granta, pounds 8.99) A rather aimless collection of short stories which probes the gulf between Japan and the West, in particular Osaka and Canada. Often this divide is further emphasised by the generation gap. In one of the more telling fragments, a group of Japanese men move to defend a teenage girl of mixed race who is being attacked by a drunken westerner. "But I'm her father" he pleads. Heighton, who is also a poet, strives too hard for resonant effects: "men practising judo, their eyes and teeth glinting like fireflies in the dark, while singers in kimono rehearse mournful songs under the pines."

The Encyclopedia of Beatles People by Bill Harry (Blandford, pounds 14.99) A delight to those obsessed by the Fab Four but a mystery to the rest of us. Engagingly, many of those included come from the seedier end of the showbiz spectrum, such as Alfred Lennon, John's absent dad, who issued an "autobiographical record" called "It's My Life". We also learn that Darcy Bussell's father ran Apple Tailoring for its two-month existence in 1968 and that Dhani Harrison (born 1978), after "a somewhat cossetted life", now studies design technology. Despite his passion for minutiae, Harry omits the fact that Jagger and Richards were among the chorus for "All You Need is Love".

Uses and Abuses by Aldo Busi (Faber, pounds 7.99) Free of chapter breaks, Busi's magic carpet rolls seamlessly from Lugano to Brussels to "that hateful place" London (he was arrested for "indecent acts in public") to Reykavik to Caracas - and we're still only on page 57. While Busi's main object of interest is himself ("I feel a great love and tenderness for my sleeping body"), fortunately he is also intrigued by almost everyone else he meets. Genet-like, he is drawn to the underclass. While exulting in his homosexuality, Busi repeatedly reveals a keen eye for girls in tight black trousers. An odd, hilarious, angry book from this omnivorous, ceaselessly opinionated voyager.

The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber by Nicholson Baker (Vintage, pounds 7.99) This prose collection by the American novelist Nicholson Baker offers a rich intellectual omnium-gatherum of critical insights, word games, self-exploration and lateral thinking. In Baker's hands, nerdy, pedantic scholarship becomes exciting, witty and liberated. Literary and linguistic topics, such as the history of punctuation or the use of spatial metaphors for mental processes, get the best out of him, but even fingernail parings can inspire his curiosity. His urbane facility with language and ideas sometimes lapses into tricksiness, but his enthusiasm for such a wide range of literature - from Nabokov to Petrarch to Charlotte Bronte - makes up for the occasional cheap pun.

Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?