Sunday 10 September 1995
! A Different Sea by Claudio Magris, trs M S Spurr, Harvill pounds 7.99. Magris is one of those intellectuals whose gnomic playfulness can both infuriate and fascinate. This brief novel is about Enrico, an Istrian who, in 1909, shuns authoritarian Europe to read the ancient Greeks among the sheep of Patagonia. But he reappears in the post-Great War chaos and yearns now for the Austro-Hungarian simplicities of his childhood. Yet nothing here is quite as it seems and at times Magris's narrative reads like an ironic commentary on New Ageism and the Vietnam era.
! Daisy Bates in the Desert by Julia Blackburn, Minerva pounds 6.99. A poetic and original prose writer, Blackburn again fuses biography, travel writing and reminiscence (she last did it for Napoleon on St Helena) to present the story of Daisy Bates, a kind of Apostle of the Aborigines. Blackburn's identification with this extraordinary Irish woman - bigamist, traveller, storyteller, amateur prostitute, self-taught ethnologist and CBE - is so total that author and subject exchange dreams and memories like friends in a school playground. Few writers would get away with it, but Blackburn's imaginative commitment carries her through.
! Easy Money: Inside the Gambler's Mind by David Spanier, Oldcastle Books pounds 6.99. Not terribly systematic - but then no systems win all the time, right? - still, a very entertaining survey of why Gambling Is Good for You. We visit casinos, study the theory of Blackjack, the history of Gambler's Anonymous, enter the world of John Aspinall and "Lucky" Lucan and hear of attempts to use computers to predict roulette wheels. There are games of chance with a lot more buzz than you get queuing for a lottery ticket, and this book proves it.
! The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye: Five Fairy Stories by A S Byatt, Vintage pounds 5.99. The first four are fairy stories in the accepted sense but Byatt's last is a 180-page novella. Middle-aged Gillian addresses a "narratology" conference in Istanbul, when she suddenly sees, hovering above the audience, the empty, sterile embodiment of her horror of ageing and the body's decay. So far, so spooky. But later, in her hotel room, a djinn pops out of the bottle she got in the Bazaar and - alakazam! - her existential problems are all solved, for the djinn not only has the usual three wishes, he is the most amazing sex-therapist. To this mere narratologist, it's like a modern novel tagged with an ending from an X-rated Disney cartoon.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Indiana Jones sequel confirmed by Lucasfilm - but will Harrison Ford return to the franchise?
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP