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The Independent Culture
A LIFE OF PICASSO, Volume I by John Richardson, Pimlico pounds 15

The first of four projected volumes, this devoted and beautifully illustrated work - 1991 Whitbread Book of the Year - is likely to remain the standard account of the artist's early years in Barcelona and Paris.

THE SELECTED WRITINGS OF JACK B YEATS ed. Robin Skelton, Andre Deutsch pounds 8.99

A much-needed introduction to a a gifted and turbulent writer, better known until recently as a painter and brother to the poet; included here are plays, fiction and delightful prose anecdotes of Ireland. Good on quoits and donkey-racing, too.

THURBER ON CRIME ed. Robert Lopresti, Hamish Hamilton pounds 10.99

'So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.' A wonderful collection of stories, drawings and reminiscences, from America's most wanted humorist. Mildly mad and wholly harmless.

SAINT MAYBE by Anne Tyler, Vintage pounds 5.99

The comforts and comedy of religion in everyday Baltimore; a new addition to the Tyler chronicles of domestic life, as clear-eyed and unsentimental as anything she has written.

SAPPHO: POEMS & FRAGMENTS tr. Josephine Balmer, Bloodaxe pounds 6.95

With her work constructed from second-hand quotation and papyrus scraps, Sappho has been exposed to more fanciful misinterpretation than most poets. This new translation offers a cleaner, less florid but no less moving view of her achievement.

JOHN KEATS by Walter Jackson Bate, Hogarth Press pounds 12.99

First published in 1979, this indefatigable, finely detailed study of the poet's life and work, and of the manner in which the two were entwined, remains unsurpassed.

THE BEST OF PLIMPTON by George Plimpton, Simon & Schuster pounds 7.99

Horseshoes with George Bush, triangle with Leonard Bernstein, ice-hockey with a goal to defend: Plimpton has played it all. Curious and gentlemanly, this is some of the sharpest occasional journalism of our time.

ALICE JAMES by Jean Strouse, Harvill pounds 5.99

Sister to Henry the novelist and William the psychologist, the nerve-ridden and perceptive Alice James was a considerable figure in her own right. This is the first biography of her and a worthy one, both suggestive and compassionate.