Paperbacks

Reviewed by Emma Hagestadt and Christopher Hirst

Trash by Dorothy Allison (Flamingo, pounds 5.99)

The chances of survival aren't good in a Dorothy Allison story. Run- away trucks, botched abortions, and suicide pose the biggest threats - though schoolgirl Shannon Pearl takes the biscuit by igniting herself at a local barbecue. Allison's short stories and poems (many of which formed the basis of her much lauded first novel, Bastard Out of Carolina) speak knowingly of the grubby pain of wanting what you cannot have.

The Constant Mistress by Angela Lambert (Penguin, pounds 5.99)

Diagnosed with a fatal illness at the age of 44, Laura decides to spend her last few months in the company of men. Powerful, sophisticated men; men who run banks and law firms; men with names like Bruno, Edouard and Jurgen. A practised storyteller with a soft spot for Eurotrash, Lambert examines what happens to a woman who rejects the lure of domesticity for a more cosmopolitan state of affairs.

The Ottomans by Andrew Wheatcroft (Penguin, pounds 8.99)

Ever since Constantinople fell, Europeans have regarded the Ottomans with horror and fascination. The first sultan to pitch tent within the city's walls was said to have reminded people of "a parrot about to eat ripe cherries", and from this history you can understand why. Pictures of jewel-encrusted palaces and cloistered harems glitter from the pages, and any attempt by the author to disentangle myth from reality falls a little flat.

In Cold Domain by Anne Fine (Penguin, pounds 5.99)

When Barbara announces to her assembled family that she has met the love of her life - Miguel-Angel Gippini Alargon Lopez de Rego, a waiter from the pub next door - they go into overdrive, not least her blue-rinsed mother. Set in the garden of the family estate, Cold Domain, Fine's farce involves a hearty dose of camp innuendo and bare bottoms, all told with a gusto that should make writers of BBC sitcoms hang their heads in shame.

Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge by Iain Sinclair (Vintage, pounds 5.99)

These fragments from the Seventies begin with a dark speculation about Hawksmoor's churches (which also inspired Peter Ackroyd). From this high point, the book declines into allusive rambling in a style which owes something to the Beat poets, but there's no denying Sinclair's acuity. Two decades ago, he was quoting from The Large Scale Structure of Space Time by one S. W. Hawking.

Footsteps by Richard Holmes (Flamingo, pounds 7.99)

Looking at a photograph of Shelley's house near Lucca, Holmes feels "a faint tingling sensation" when he detects a child on the picture's edge: "I felt I was looking at little William, Shelley's dead son". The gulf of a century or two all but disappears as the biographer pursues his subjects. These exciting explorations of literary figures - others include R. L. Stevenson and Wordsworth - come close to time travel.

The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer (Minerva, pounds 6.99)

As a bank robber, Dr Eddie Coffin has several things going against him. He is alcoholic, overweight, accident-prone and a failed philosopher obsessed by words beginning with the letter "Z". With his maimed sidekick Hubert, he muses on metaphysics during messy heists. The gang wear Nietzsche masks - "they're easy to make because of the bog-brush moustache". Of course. Hilarious, fast-moving stuff.

Conflict of Loyalty by Geoffrey Howe (Pan, pounds 8.99)

Despite its title, most of this book is devoted to ovine service in the great offices of state under Margaret Thatcher. Suddenly, after 550 pages, the story takes on an epic momentum as Howe, scorned and excluded, prepares to slay the dragon. No, he says, it was unconnected with his demotion, nor had the formidable Elspeth Howe anything to do with it. Of course not. It was purely policy, purely Europe.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas