Paperbacks

Lord Gnome's Literary Companion edited by Francis Wheen (Verso, pounds 11.95)

Private Eye's scourge of sacred cows leaves no laurel in place, whether toppling "grand old stagers" (I. Murdoch, K. Amis, A. Brookner), or tracing the way today's reviewers and writers scratch one another's familiar backs. Essays on John Updike (see "Sentenced to Hard Labia"), and The Hundred Years Waugh, expose the sillier cul de sacs of Grub Street glory.

The Faber Book of Murder edited by Simon Rae (pounds 9.99)

While admitting that murder is "sordid, ugly, brutal, horrible", Rae also insists it is "intrinsically interesting". His gory trawl supports the first more than the second view. By stressing the climax, we learn little of the circumstances of crime. There are generous servings from the great murder queens, but the real star is Dickens. One is left with the impious thought: does anyone read the verse bits of anthologies?

In God's Country by Douglas Kennedy (Abacus, pounds 7.99)

Touring the US Bible Belt brings this American-born, London-based writer into contact with an assorted mix of the born-again, including former Mafioso Rev. Tony Waters, Christian heavy-metal band Stryper and Rev Herb Shreve of the 28,000-strong Christian Motorcycle Assoc (motto: 'Run for the Son'). Non-believer Kennedy gives them a fair hearing but more historical context would have helped.

When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy (Vintage, pounds 6.99)

This fascinating defence of anthropomorphism is based on Darwin's view that man and the higher animals have similar ''passions, affections and emotions". Long-term studies (Fossey on gorillas, Goodall on chimps) and a wealth of examples show that our "evolutionary cousins" experience feelings as we do. It is convenient sophistry for man to argue otherwise.

A Month and a Day by Ken Saro-Wiwa (Penguin, pounds 6.99)

Written in 1993, this is a brilliant account of Saro-Wiwa's first spell in prison and the irresistible impetus which forced him - like so many Nigerian writers - to adopt a political stance. His book is also a scathing indictment of Nigeria's thuggish rulers and the oil interests whose "godlike 'we can do no wrong' attitude" is only too recognisable. It is unsurprising that the regime wanted to be rid of such an articulate opponent.

Behind the Scenes of the Museum by Kate Atkinson (Black Swan, 6.99)

Conceived above a pet shop in York, and born just in time to see the Queen's coronation on Dad's new TV, Ruby Lennox is one of a long line of frustrated Yorkshire women thwarted by war, poverty, and bad marriages. Atkinson's evocation of a Fifties girlhood is jammed with Northern common sense and impish good humour. The winner of this year's Whitbread First Novel Award.

Kenneth Tynan Letters edited by Kathleen Tynan (Minerva, 12.99)

When Kenneth Tynan couldn't get down to his reviews, articles or books, he wrote letters: taking as much trouble to entertain and charm Laurence Olivier as he did his accountant or his dentist. The most endearing thing about Tynan's correspondence - and this vast collection spans the years from Birmingham schoolboy to LA exile - is how the precocious and gleeful 16-year-old in him never quite grew up.

The Vintage Book of Feminism edited by Miriam Schneir (pounds 7.99)

Modern feminism's greatest hits - including classic extracts from Simone de Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem, and Susan Faludi - now gathered together in one handy volume. The thumbnail sketches of each author are deftly executed, and Schneir has selected all those essays you feel you should have read but never got round to - including Anita Hill's Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jerusalem Commands by Michael Moorcock (Phoenix 6.99)

In the third, penultimate, and weakest volume of Michael Moorcock's chronicles of Colonel Pyatt, the Colonel continues doing what he does best: betraying friends, committing social injustices and consorting with the rich and famous. An anti-Semite born at the century's opening, Pyatt stands as Moorcock's vision of the ultimate bad faith of our age, and seems headed for an urgent appointment in Auschwitz.

Capone: The Man and the Era by Laurence Bergreen (Pan, pounds 8.99)

All those rat-a-tat gunfights in gangster flicks are no exaggeration. In 1928 there were 367 killings in Chicago. Packed with anecdote, Bergreen's reassessment of the infamous mob boss is more thrillingly absorbing than any crime fiction. Personally genial, Capone was also a ruthless psychopath, his judgement blurred by syphilis. A scabrous portrait of the Chicago press corps is not the least of this book's pleasures.

we recommend...

The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr

by R.R. Davies (Oxford, pounds 20)

Conspiratorial politics, dynastic pretensions, guerrilla tactics and lofty ideals in the scramble for self-rule led by Wales's most famous son in the 14th century.

The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers edited by Barbara Reynolds

(Hodder, pounds 25)

The genesis of a detective writer through 37 years of correspondence, from high-spirited bluestocking to mother of an illegitimate child, caught between her feelings and the constraints of society.

Rasero by Francisco Rebolledo, trans. Helen Lane (Weidenfeld, pounds 16.99)

Stunning novelistic debut which conjures the ordures and odours of the age of Enlightenment as brilliantly as the intellectual, artistic and sexual vigour of its protagonists.

Shula's Story by Joanna Toye (BBC Books, pounds 9.99)

From star-crossed teenager to untimely widow, Ambridge's damsel of a thousand disasters is caught for Archers addicts between hard covers.

Drink: An Informal Social History by Andrew Barr (Bantam, pounds 16.99)

Travels around the palate of social drinking from the ravages of 18th- century gin epidemics to tamer fetishes, culminating with the odd fancies for bottled water and Australian Chardonary in the present century.

Noel Coward: A Biography by Philip Hoare (Sinclair-Stevenson, pounds 25)

Witty and intimate portrait of the Master, written with the co-operation of (most of) the Coward Fan Club and offering for the first time the low- down on his absorbing sex life.

Happy Days by Beryl Cook (Gollancz, pounds 14.99)

More leopardskin lycra, bouffant hairstyles and bespectacled voyeurs living it up in the nightclubs of Tenerife, the tango bars of Buenos Aires and the public library. The recently OBE-d Cook confirms her strength as a benignly wicked social satirist.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
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.

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York