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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living