Paperbacks

! Reef by Romesh Gunesekera, Granta £5.99. If the Booker were awarded purely for charm, this 1994 shortlistee would have won doing handsprings. It's a slim coming-of-age story from Sri Lanka, in which the narrator Triton, at 11, becomes the houseboy of the distinguished Mr Salgado and then works his way up to be his cook and manservant. But the focus of Triton's interest (and increasingly ours) is his tantalising, only partial share of Salgado's wider life - his profession (as a marine biologist, concerned with the erosion of the reef around the coast) and his love for Miss Nili, a Christian hotel owner who brings desire and ultimately disruption to the scientist's calm bachelorhood. At the same time the political state of the country declines from the paradisial to the horrendous. A wholly graceful, truthful and admirable book.

! Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectic of Poodle Play by Ben Watson, Quartet £12. In this extraordinary homage Watson, a committed Zappa fan and member of the SWP, loads his idol's 57-album oeuvre with the entire baggage of intellectual modernism. The footnotes alone strike awe. Far surpassing the usual obsessive magpie collection of detail we know from the likes of AJ Webber, this is no less than a frontal assault on authoritarian capitalism from the perspective of Zappology. The tendentiousness should not entirely put you off. Watson's book is stocked with genuine insights and his case for Zappa as a hero of the avant garde - a force to challenge any reigning cultural and political assumptions - is ably made.

! The Moon Rising by Steven Kelly, Abacus £5.99. Snowbound in an Italian Alps hotel, a shady "businessman" and his entourage are attended to by the night porter and his nephew and apprentice (our narrator) Andreas. The company mixes exotic cocktails and complains its way through the night, while Andreas broods on his past love for a bookish young whore, Elisa, a girl given to quoting Cyril Connolly (I kid you not) and sleepwalking. Although it is very slight both in plot and character, I liked it for its bizarre Nabokovian touches.

! A Mind of My Own: My Life With Robert Maxwell by Betty Maxwell, Pan £5.99. The author tells how she fainted on first seeing "Ivan du Maurier", Maxwell's peculiar 1944 alias. Much of her view From The Ego's Nest is similarly and appropriately hyperbolic. The blurb calls it "the stuff of Greek tragedy", but the case is more of Shakespeare: "I have a whole school of tongues in this belly of mine; and not a tongue of them all speaks any other word but my name." Cap'n Bob's moniker was an obsession of his; he constantly changed it until he settled on one he liked, then defended it viciously at law. He'd probably have liked to sue his wife, when she wrote to him in 1980: "You have become harsh, cruel, uncompromising, dictatorial, exceedingly selfish and inconsiderate, totally unaware of the feelings of others, least of all those ... you take a sadistic pleasure in crushing and humiliating." Dutiful public wife she was in his lifetime; now, more in fret than fury, she takes a 700-page posthumous revenge.

! Eminent Churchillians by Andrew Roberts, Phoenix £7.99. The case here is that Churchill was not really a Tory, but a Liberal (albeit a pugnacious one) who was so awed by socialism - not Stalin's, but that of his wartime partner Attlee - that he allowed its peacetime administration to appease the unions, unleash immigration and generally muzzle capital. The effect of the milksop (though charming) leadership of the Churchill, Eden and Macmillan cabinets during the 1950s was to ease our path into the unholy mess of late 20th century Britain, which Roberts sums up dismissively as "Italy with rockets". But the aforementioned PMs are not really his villains. Roberts instead singles out the likes of Dickie Mountbatten and Walter Monckton. It is an acerbic thesis, encapsulated in the detail that, when Churchill moved back into No 10 in 1951, he brought his famous red "Action This Day" stickers with him. They were never used.

'Terry Street', a Bte Noire Special Edition (£6), marks 25 years since Douglas Dunn's eponymous first book. With his 18 poems are photographs by Robert Whitaker, taken in 1968: a powerful evocation of the vibrancy and sadness of the last days of Hull's cleared slums, recent but invisible history

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
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.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn