Arts and Entertainment

Without question, the book that has most influenced my life has been Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. I was astonished by the outrageous pot-head humour: crazy ideas taken way beyond their normal limits. The book was a savage indictment of American racism and consumerism, it dealt with the corruption, graft and lies of politicians with Swiftian humour. I had never read anything like, then or since.

Gillian Anderson to play Blanche DuBois in Young Vic production

X-Files star Gillian Anderson is returning to the London stage to play Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Daniel Kitson now commands an impassioned following around the world

Comedy review: Daniel Kitson, Tree, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

When Daniel Kitson gave the Latitude Festival audience a tantalising glimpse of his new show this summer it was still very much a sapling. Two months later and Tree has put on branches and leaves, emerging into the gloom of a drizzly autumnal Manchester night as a mighty oak.

Edinburgh International Festival: Eh Joe, Royal Lyceum

Edinburgh 2013: Eh Joe - Samuel Beckett's TV play starring Penelope Wilton

As Penelope Wilton recounts his appalling treatment of her predecessors and successors in Joe’s bed, Michael Gambon’s face is projected onto the gauze. Throughout the 30 minutes of the piece, he says not a word. We are aware of his hunched figure, wrapped in a rancid dressing gown, but it is the folds and craters of his face that tell us the story.

Page 3 Profile: David Soul, actor

Is a Starsky and Hutch revival on the cards?

You can be serious: Top comics play it straight at Fringe

Some of Britain's top comics are putting away their one-liners to perform in straight dramas at the Edinburgh Festival

Barney Rosset: Controversial publisher who introduced Beckett to a worldwide audience

In a profession renowned for its individualists, the publisher Barney Rosset was an eccentric among eccentrics, a man of strong passions who seldom listened to others – and never, if they wished to persuade him to change his course of action. In 1951 he bought a defunct New York publishing company, Grove Press, and devoted his energies to turning it into the most prestigious and adventurous literary publishing company in America. Professor Wallace Fowlie, of the New School University in Greenwich Village, gave him tips about current French literature and Sylvia Beach, of Shakespeare and Company, told him about a talented Irish writer in Paris called Samuel Beckett. In 1954 Rosset published the first US edition of Waiting for Godot and Beckett remained his most faithful author.

One Minute With: Shalom Auslander, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see?

Mark Padmore/Paul Lewis, Wigmore Hall

The birth of Schubert’s Winterreise song-cycle was suitably poignant. Wilhelm Muller humbly declared that his poems needed music to infuse them with life, but died unaware that Schubert was turning them into a libretto.

David Leddy's Untitled Love Story, St George's West, Edinburgh

David Leddy is a Fringe institution, a writer and director who magics audiences to faraway places in his shows. Last year, he took them on a macabre midnight journey through an old Masonic lodge.

Album: Morton Feldman, Neither (Hat [now] Art)

Though nominally an opera, this collaboration between Feldman and Samuel Beckett features neither setting nor characters, and a mere 16 lines of text, which makes it more of a cantata.

Leading article: The rich should not be able to buy preference

Samuel Beckett was once asked why he quit his job as a university lecturer teaching the cream of Irish society. Indeed, the rich and the thick, was his riposte. The Tory minister, David Willetts, was forced into an embarrassing climbdown before the House of Commons yesterday after suggestions that he wanted to introduce a two-tier system in English universities which would apparently favour those with money over those with academic ability.

Terminus, Young Vic, London

Tortured trio left in limbo on the Liffey

My Secret Life: Richard Herring, comedian, 43

My parents were... My dad was my headmaster and my mother also taught me at school. I did a whole show about whether it psychologically scarred me, but when I look back, I think all the bad things about me were already in existence. I was in a fortunate position where I had a very solid family – my parents have been together since they were 13. It's almost hard to live up to that!

The mystery and poetry of the towpath

I was inclined to be poetical about the Grand Canal," said Nathaniel Hawthorne in his New-England Magazine sketch "The Canal Boat", from 1835. It's insightful writing, in which he describes the canal wending its way through each town as "the most fertilizing of all fluids" and feeding their "masses of brick and stone, their churches and theatres, their business and hubbub, their luxury and refinement, their gay dames and polished citizens – to spring up, till, in time, the wondrous stream may flow between two continuous lines of buildings, through one thronged street."

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick