Paperbacks

Paper Trail by Michael Dorris (HarperCollins, pounds 8.99)

Like a Ralph Lauren advert, something doesn't quite ring true about the sun-bleached landscapes of Michael Dorris's essays. Celebrating his native American ancestry, the joys of home life, and his role as sensitive man, Dorris's reflections have the distinct whiff of phoney baloney about them. His wife, the novelist Louise Erdrich, probably wishes he'd kept their evenings lost "in the foibles of intellectual geometry and romance" to their own front porch.

The Marble Kiss by Jay Rayner (Pan pounds 5.99)

It's 15th-century Tuscany, and Prince Bartolommeo dei Strossetti is pleasuring himself in time to his wife's labour pains. But just as his moment comes, the Princess haemorrhages to death in the room below. Five hundred years later, and the beautiful Princess - for whom the towers of San Giminigano once bowed down - still has men in the palm of her hand. And if you can ignore the purple prose, this book will make a surprisingly good companion for any hill-top holiday.

What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics by Adrienne Rich (Virago pounds 10.99)

30 years ago, recovering from a knee operation in a New York City hospital, the poet Adrienne Rich happened to tune in to a radio version of The Duchess of Malfi - all that talk of "worme-seed" and "phantastical puff- paste" cheered her up no end. Now in her late sixties, and still tramping the Mojave Desert for inspiration, Rich asks society to remember that what can salve the individual hurt, can also heal our collective pain.

Nothing is Black by Deirdre Madden (Faber pounds 5.99)

Eating fish and chips and Mars Bars is Nuala's secret protest against her comfortable life as an acclaimed Dublin restaurateur and happily married mother - she also likes to steal spoons from other people's tea trays. To understand the source of her unease, Nuala retreats to her cousin's white-washed cottage in Donegal to stare at the sea and look at art books. Heavy on exposition and insight, Madden's novel, like Nuala's cooking, could do with a dash of spice or spontaneity.

The Missing of the Somme by Geoff Dyer (Penguin pounds 6.99)

Even as the Great War was being fought, people were working out how it would be remembered. The Cenotaph, the vast cemeteries of France and Belgium, the rolls of honour in schools and universities, all appeared with remarkable speed. In a fascinating and unusual essay - part historical, part impressionistic - Geoff Dyer makes the point that it's always easier to commemorate a war whose meaning is lost on everyone.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life by Joan D Hedrick (Oxford pounds )

Once described by a visitor as "A wonderfully agile old lady, as fresh as a squirrel still, but with the face and air of a lion", Harriet Beecher Stowe, the best-selling author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, was a formidable woman to the last. Considered a genius in a family of eccentrics, she prized individuality above all else, though it's her generalisations on class and race that anger critics today. The first biography of the novelist for 50 years, it's written, one suspects, by a kindred spirit.

Before I Get Old by Dave Marsh (Plexus pounds 12.99)

Tormented, tempestuous, irresistibly exciting: The Who make a superb subject for a pop biography. But this sprawling effort by a leading Rolling Stone writer is marred by incongruous Americanisms and inaccuracies, such as the reference to "blind pianist Russ Conway". Shoddily produced, the book is a reprint of the 1982 edition, so it jerks to a halt before the Broadway version of Tommy revived Pete Townshend's fortunes.

Profane Friendship by Harold Brodkey (Vintage pounds 5.99)

After decades of quiescence, the threat of illness prompted a late flowering in this New York novelist. As well as completing his decades-delayed saga The Runaway Soul, Brodkey produced this taut evocation of homosexual passion in a few months of 1992. Set against a crumbling Venetian backdrop, this tale of a brooding liaison between the son of a failed jazz-age writer and a slick, amoral Italian is a triumph.

The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner (Vintage pounds 8.99)

Until recently, America's fearsome Creationist lobby possessed a powerful weapon in that the processes of evolution had never been observed in action. But living proof is now accumulating in support of Darwin. Researching the finches of the Galapagos Islands, two UK academics have shown that beak shapes change in response to natural selection. A readable, richly intelligent, Pulitzer Prize-winning exploration.

A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis (Penguin pounds 7.99)

"You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law." Legal flummery in all its rococo splendour piles up in this inventive satire of US jurisprudence. Gaddis's torrential dialogue is reminiscent of Joyce, not least in a dislike of inverted commas. This clever, if demanding, entertainment will have more appeal in lawyer-clogged America than here, where most folks steer well clear of m'learned friends.

Graham Greene: The Man Within by Michael Shelden (Minerva pounds 7.99)

When first published, this scandalous account of the reclusive novelist caused a stink with its account of Greene and his mistress "committing adultery behind every high altar in Italy". In fact, he made a speciality of coupling in unusual ways and locations (once on the Southend train). Ennui prompted such outre behaviour, though Shelden doubts that GG ever really tried Russian roulette.

The Far Corner by Harry Pearson (Warner pounds 5.99)

Hilarious and wonderful, this epic journey round the

wind-blasted soccer grounds of the north-east in the 93-94 season is imbued with Proustian resonance. The author muses on the oxymoronic Darlington chant "Quaker Aggro" and the fact that Billingham Synthonia is the only UK club named after a fertiliser. A really funny book, far too good for footer fans alone.

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

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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
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.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup