Life and Style

The odds are stacked against the Wright Brothers. First of all, their latest restaurant is in Spitalfields Market, which nobody aged 30 or over should ever be seen near. Second, this is a seafood place, and I've just come back from Italy and Cornwall, where I had so much fish that the thought of another crustacean makes me ill. Third, this restaurant is out and proud about its crustacea – which means you have the dubious pleasure of seeing them fighting in huge tanks barely two metres from the seating area. Fourth, this opening is part of a chain (the third of its kind in the capital, following openings in Soho and Borough market), and your correspondent demands higher standards from chains. Fifth, I am in an extremely foul mood, had you not twigged, having just had my latest in a series of contretemps with a fellow journalist.

Superheroes, deadly dolls, space pilots, and underworlds

David Barnett samples the latest in science fiction, fantasy and horror

Paperback review: Consider the Fork: A History Of How We Cook And Eat by Bee Wilson

Wilson’s informative, friendly style throws up lots of tasty facts (the earliest recipes came from Mesopotamia, Roman metal utensils were still copied into the 20th century), but her history also emphasises the labour-intensity of cooking in surprising ways.

Book Review: Helium, By Jaspreet Singh

The year 1984 was catastrophic for India’s Sikhs. On 6 June, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered her troops to fire on the Golden Temple, killing thousands. On 1 November, the day after Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, a pogrom of the country’s Sikhs occurred during which up to 8,000 people died.

Paperback review: The Story of the Treasure-Seekers, By E Nesbit

“‘Oh news’, said he, ‘and dull articles, and things about Celebrities. If you know any Celebrities, now?’” So inquires the editor of the Daily Recorder of the Bastable children in Nesbit’s novel, first published in 1899, and it’s comforting to know our fixation with celebrity isn’t just a contemporary phenomenon.

Biography Review: Walking Wounded: the Life and Poetry of Vernon Scannell, By James Andrew Taylor

Brutalised by a vicious father and acquiescent mother, and traumatised by less-than-honourable Second World War service and injury, Vernon Scannell never sorted human relationships, especially with the women who serially and concurrently shared his life.

Book Review: Others of my Kind, by James Sallis

James Sallis is a crime writer’s crime writer, admired for the economy of language with which he conjures up fictional worlds. His most famous novel, Drive, was the basis for the Ryan Gosling film, a movie that shared the book’s existential minimalism, a style typical of Sallis’s terrific back catalogue.

Book Review: Autobiography, By Morrissey

“It’s time the tale were told,” sang Morrissey on The Smiths’ “Reel Around The Fountain”, and almost 30 years later he has finally done it in a mammoth memoir that, on account of appearing as a Penguin Classic, has caused a commotion well before publication. Few could really be surprised; this is typical Morrissey hubris, similar to the time that he insisted his solo records go out on EMI’s HMV imprint, which then dealt exclusively in classical music.

Book Review: Landscape Photographer of the Year, Collection 7

Now in its seventh year, the Landscape Photographer of the Year Award was devised by Charlie Waite, one of Britain’s foremost landscape photographers, and created in association with AA Publishing.

Review: Three Brothers, By Peter Ackroyd

Best known for his mighty volumes on London, and biographies of Sir Thomas More, William Blake and Charles Dickens, Peter Ackroyd was once far better known as a novelist. Hawksmoor, published in 1985, was a literary sensation; Chatterton was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987. As with these two, inspired by Sir Christopher Wren’s eponymous assistant and a proto-Romantic poet respectively, his novels tended to jump off from a specific literary or historic moment; he channelled Oscar Wilde, Milton, Chaucer, and John Dee in works which showed off his sublime talent for literary pastiche.

Review: Command and Control, By Eric Schlosser

We know the risks of nuclear holocaust did not end with the Cold War, but until recently we have remained in happy ignorance of just how accident-prone atomic bombs are. After mining controversies around junk food (in Fast Food Nation) and cannabis (Reefer Madness), Schlosser has now scrutinised the prospects of involuntary Armageddon.

Paperback review: Nick Drake: Dreaming England, By Nathan Wiseman-Trowse

The singer-songwriter Nick Drake died of an overdose in 1974, at the age of 26. Since his death his reputation has steadily grown, and his music has come to be regarded, with great affection, as the embodiment of a particular kind of Englishness.

Paperback review: Sawbones, By Catherine Johnson

Sawbones is a novel for children and young teens, centring on young Ezra MacAdam, a surgeon’s apprentice in 18th-century London who is also “mulatto” (mixed race) and a freed slave from Jamaica.

Paperback review: Call Of The Undertow, By Linda Cracknell

Maggie Thame is a cartographer who takes a cottage in a remote coastal village in the Highlands of Scotland.

Paperback review: Mating, By Norman Rush

This novel first appeared in 1991, but still seems extraordinary, innovative, sui generis. An unnamed female anthropologist is doing fieldwork for her thesis in Botswana; she conceives an intense interest in the charismatic Nelson Denoon, writer, intellectual, social theorist, who has started up a utopian community, run by women, in the heart of the Kalahari desert.

Review: The Beast, By Óscar Martínez

“Though the dream is easy, the voyage is incredibly dangerous,” writes Oscar Martinez, a young award-winning investigative journalist from El Salvador, who spent two years following in the footsteps of more than 250,000 migrants who make the perilous journey across Mexico every year. Most are trying to reach the US in search of “una vida mejor” – a better life. Others do not think of America, only the need to flee violence and oppression.

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