Books: Paperbacks

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (Fourth Estate, pounds 6.99)

"Perfect" is used here in a technical sense, meaning "a storm that could not have possibly been worse". In this extraordinary work, Junger explores the fatal impact of one such fury - the Halloween storm of 1991 - upon the six-man crew of the Andrea Gail, a US swordfishing boat. Junger braids a host of material into his account - the worldwide increase in wave heights may be due to tightened laws reducing the amount of spilled oil which once calmed troubled waters - but the book's irresistible hook is a painstaking reconstruction of the crew's experiences up to and including the moment of drowning. This Conradian work about the human price of fish is immensely impressive.

A Skin Diary by John Fuller (Vintage, pounds 5.99)

Poet John Fuller's latest offering - the diary entries of a 19th-century foetus - is less pretentious than it sounds. A celebration of birth and creation, and the mysterious vocabulary of the Welsh hills, Fuller's hands- on prose splits cells and metaphors with elemental ease. This nine-month stay in a farm girl's womb is best read aloud, preferably when pregnant or hormonally high.

Duchamp: a biography by Calvin Tomkins (Pimlico, pounds 15)

The New Yorker's veteran observer of the art scene has written an absorbing life of the great Marcel which ranks alongside Richardson's four-volume Picasso for its detailed portrayal of both man and milieu. So how did he manage to compress Duchamp, arguably this century's most influential artist, into one bulky tome? The reason is that Duchamp's career (unlike his ardent sex life) virtually ceased at the age of 36 when he switched to chess. But his small corpus is so richly potent that the ever-readable Tomkins has no shortage of material. His analysis of The Bride Stripped Bare ("Basically a motor", explained the artist, "running on love gasoline") is a treat.

Jack Maggs by Peter Carey (Faber, pounds 6.99)

Clever, imaginative and a more enjoyable read than his best known novel, Oscar and Lucinda, Peter Carey's latest book (an historical thriller set in 1830s London) tells the intriguing tale of Jack Maggs - a deported criminal recently returned to England to settle some old, and mysterious, scores. Newly illuminated by gas-light, and populated by such Dickensian- sounding characters as Percy Buckle, Miss Halfstairs and Henry Phipps, Carey's London throws up con-men and debt-collectors at every corner.

Jane Austen by David Nokes (Fourth Estate, pounds 9.99)

In this engaging and persuasive reinterpretation, Nokes suggests that, in a similar way to Shelley, Jane Austen's surprisingly sanguine character ("I am a wild beast. I cannot help it") was posthumously etiolated by her starchy relatives. Nokes reveals that the flesh-and-blood Jane "always loved to shock people and took a wicked girlish delight in saying the unsayable". Far from being a wallflower, she threw herself into "concerts, fireworks, shopping and scandal", and fell for a dashing young Irishman until his family kibboshed the affair. Nokes's prose fizzes in pursuit of his entertaining, slightly improper heroine who was "a connoisseur of human curiosities".

The Cafes of Paris by Christine Graf (Constable, pounds 8.99)

If you're planning a few days in the City of Light, this enjoyable tour of zinc bars, salons de the and other places of refreshment makes a lot more sense than a ponderous cultural guide. You could plan your trip round legendary drinking holes: the Procope, where Robespierre directed the terror; the Brasserie Lipp, where Henry Miller's lectures on prostitution provoked a fellow American to remark, "For Christ's sake, Hank, why don't you write a book?"; and Maxim's, where the farceur Feydeau responded to the explanation that his single-clawed lobster had been in a fight with the line: "Then bring me the winner!" An even better idea would be to follow Graf's suggestions of more humble joints where real people go.

The Farewell Symphony by Edmund White

(Vintage, pounds 6.99)

The third in a series of autobiographical novels, The Farewell Symphony finds writer Edmund White fast approaching 30 - still unpublished, unloved, and about to leave New York for Paris. Raunchy, philosophical and always kind, White records the intimate history of that generation of gay men who came of age in the Fifties, came out in the Sixties and lived long enough to die of Aids in the Nineties. At his funniest on French snobs and American fogies.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

    £30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

    Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

    £23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

    Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

    Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

    £35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering