Arts and Entertainment

Private Alex Stringer, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was 20 when he was blown up in Afghanistan: "The reason I lost my left leg so high up is because the burning paint cooked my left leg all the way down to the bone. But if I hadn't set myself on fire, I would have bled out and died – as a result of it, all the arteries became cauterised".

The Opposite of Falling, By Jennie Rooney

Writing as sharp as a new pin

Cultural Life: Neil Hannon, singer

Books: The best book I've read recently is "The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross. It's a very thick tome about 20th-century classical music. It filled in a lot of blanks my knowledge as well as being a riveting read. Right now I'm reading Graham Greene's "The Heart of the Matter". I went through a phase of reading Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series. It's a change coming to Graham Greene which is quite dry and old-style... but beautiful.

Michael McCarthy: How could Catholics do such a thing?

That priests should be in a State of Grace was the foundation of their moral authority

At The Chime of a City Clock, By DJ Taylor

That's three books in a row from DJ Taylor that circle around the turn of the decadent 1920s into the low dishonest decade that followed it. First we had the group biography Bright Young People, which went on to inform the novel Ask Alice, about an American farm girl risen to the shady heights of British society. Now At the Chime of a City Clock advertises itself boldly as "a thriller", rather as Graham Greene designated some of his slighter works "entertainments".

One Minute With: John Simpson

John Cale, Royal Festival Hall, London

Sprightly Cale still sparkles

I, spy: In praise of Callan, the dirty, self-hating British TV detective

'Callan' started the genre, and 'Edge of Darkness' was its high point. But just try telling the Yanks that we Brits invented the brilliant, self-hating TV detective...

Imaginary Homelands, By Salman Rushdie

Anyone picking up this collection of essays might reasonably expect extensive reflection on the events that pushed Rushdie into the headlines. Instead, much of the contents seem fusty and oddly irrelevant.

A beacon amid the rubble, Greene's hotel survives

Amid Haiti's death and devastation, one small but significant piece of good news has emerged. The staff and guests at the country's most historic hotel survived, the building apparently not having suffered extensive damage.

One Minute With: Neil Cross

Solved: The mystery of forgotten Christie play

The queen of detective fiction turned her uneasy relationship with her daughter into a ' brutal' drama - and now it's on the West End

Thomas Sutcliffe: No dignity in this pretence of unity

These proposals are the sexual equivalent of the Nuremberg Laws

Forgotten author: No.22: Marjorie Bowen

A writer whose life was as fascinating as her output, Marjorie Bowen was born Margaret Gabrielle Vere Campbell Long in 1885 on Hayling Island, Hampshire. Her mother had literary aspirations; her father was an alcoholic who died on the London streets.

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, By Pierre Bayardtrs Jeffrey Mehlman

A jeu d'esprit stretched out to 185 pages, HtTABYHR maintains, by use of dodgy logic and playful perversity, that talking about books you haven't read is not only a necessity but a creative activity to be proud of. It's full of paradoxes ("Reading is first and foremost non-reading"), and it's part of the joke that Pierre Bayard is obviously extremely well-read, a professor of literature who quotes Proust, Musil, Shakespeare, Valéry, Graham Greene, etc. He has a system of categorising books: SB (skim-read book), FB (forgotten book), HB (heard-of book) and UB (unknown book). A plus sign or double-plus sign indicate positive and extremely positive opinions, a minus or double-minus sign the opposites.

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Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

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John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

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Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

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