Short Stories

Theatre review: The Victorian in the Wall, Royal Court Theatre, London

When Dominic Cooke took over at the Royal Court, he said he wanted to stage more plays about “what it means to be middle class”. Now, as the reins of artistic director pass to Vicky Featherstone, comes possibly the most middle-class play of his era - and very funny on the topic it is too.

Invisible Ink: No 169 - Jim Shephard

Here's an unusual situation; an author who's certainly not dead, not unknown or out of print in his native USA, greatly admired, yet ignored and unrepresented on these shores. While UK publishers reprint the most minor Nordic crime novels, we're denied an astonishing American voice.

The Week In Radio: A flush of joy from painfully funny family

Is it acceptable to talk on the phone when you're sitting on the toilet? The American humourist David Sedaris says not, though his sister Tiffany would beg to differ. "Don't mind me," she has been known to say, with the strained tone of someone engaging in heavy lifting, while clasping the phone to her ear. "I'm just… trying to get… the lid… off this… jar."

Boyd Tonkin: Music can make words bloom again – and not just

Music and literature have blended in harmony ever since (in Kipling's words) "'Omer smote 'is blooming lyre" in Bronze Age Greece, where both lyric and epic verse was sung. Yet we take this fruitful kinship, or twinship, too much for granted. Specialists study the relationships between word, sound and meaning in song-cycles, opera or pop lyrics (sometimes, as in Christopher Ricks's readings of Bob Dylan, with dazzling virtuosity). But opportunities to hear every chord in the music-literature dialogue remain scarce. Hence the value of the Notes & Letters festival, which runs for a second year this weekend. Its participants range from one novelist who is also a ground-breaking musician (Amit Chaudhuri plays a gig with his eclectic east-west band) to another with a sideline as a performer (Andrey Kurkov takes the floor with a Russian-Ukrainian cabaret), and other authors - such as Ali Smith and Janice Galloway – inspired by music and musicians.

Margaret Mahy - Award-winning children’s author

"But Abel, though a treble, was a rascal and a rebel, fond of getting into trouble when he didn't have to sing. Pushing quickly through the people, Abel clambered up the steeple with nefarious intentions and a pebble in his sling…"

More headlines