Category Archives: Books

Lost Anthony Burgess essays reveal his hidden inspirations

Previously unseen work by the Clockwork Orange novelist and journalist discusses censorship, Hemingway and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Previously unpublished essays by Anthony Burgess have been discovered almost 25 years after his death.

The writings cover a range of subjects, including Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film, and fellow writers Ernest Hemingway and JB Priestley. They also include an unpublished 1991 lecture on censorship.

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Source: gad

Soviet film posters of the 50s and 60s – in pictures

After the break-up of the USSR in 1991, many artefacts associated with Soviet life – from posters to gadgets – were discarded, destined to be forgotten. Founded in 2012, the Moscow Design Museum collects objects from the era, which form the basis of a new book, Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989 (Phaidon, £24.95). These film posters, made between 1957 and 1966, roughly coincide with the “Khrushchev thaw”, a period of increased liberalism that followed Stalin’s death. “They reflect their time well,” says the museum’s director, Alexandra Sankova. “At that time, design had an artistic expressiveness that reflected the thaw and dreams of a new, more open world.” Romance films and murder mysteries were popular, but “Soviet people loved comedies the most – they became classics of the genre. People still know them by heart.”

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Source: gad

Novel recipes: a rooftop picnic from Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

As the weather warms up, Kate Young puts together a feast inspired by a meal enjoyed in Rundell’s children’s adventure

  • Scroll down for the recipe

They sat side by side, with their backs to the wind, and drank soup out of tin cans. The taste made her giddy. It made her want to laugh. Matteo ate whole sausages in a single mouthful. Sophie took four and made them into sandwiches with the venison. She added a slop of soup as a relish, and they ate them with both hands. Sophie’s hair blew in her mouth, and she tied it back with one of Matteo’s bow-strings. She couldn’t remember having been so happy before.

Rooftoppers, Katherine Rundell

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Source: gad

Lawrence Wright: ‘It’s difficult to escape the Texas stereotype’

The New Yorker staff writer who won a Pulitzer for his 9/11 masterpiece talks conspiracy theorists, his home state. and the importance of George Orwell

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of 11 books, the latest of which is God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Future of America (Allen Lane, £20), an episodic guide to the author’s home state. His book The Looming Tower, about the deep background of the 9/11 attacks, won the Pulitzer prize and was recently turned into a 10-part TV drama.

Do you think Texas suffers from an image unrepresentative of the reality?
It represents some part of the reality, but it’s certainly a stereotype so deeply ingrained throughout the world that it’s difficult to escape. It’s a kind of brand. It is an asset in many ways in that everyone knows or thinks they know something about Texas, so before they even meet you they already have an opinion based on where you’re from. Sometimes that’s an awful liability. Liberals tend to look at Texas with a kind of dread. They see it as the heartland of Daddy Warbucks capitalism. Conservatives view Texas as the promised land of small government and independent entrepreneurs. And both of those things are true in their way, but not so true that they encompass the real state of Texas.

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Source: gad

Danny Fields' best photograph: the Ramones prowl round the US supreme court

‘Hey, it’s Washington! Let’s run around!’

I became the Ramones’ manager after seeing them at CBGB in New York. From the opening downstroke of the guitar, I loved them. When I met them afterwards, they asked if I would write about them. I said: “More than that, I want to manage you.” I started taking photos of them when they were making their first album. If the manager has done a good job there’s nothing to do once the band gets to the studio except let her bang, so I took a camera along, thinking I could record moments that might be considered candid. They realised that even if I took pictures of them drooling, I wasn’t going to use them – as their manager, I wasn’t going to do anything to damage their career.

What made them good to photograph was the same thing that made them good on stage: presentation. They were intuitive. The first time I saw them live, the presentation was perfect – the clothes, the hair, the architecture of the set. They knew how to do it and they’d figured it out themselves. They weren’t puppets. When rock’n’roll wants to come out, it comes out of every pore, and they had that.

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Source: gad

The People vs Tech by Jamie Bartlett review – once more into the digital apocalypse

The latest treatise on technology taking over our lives suggests democratic systems are incompatible with the digital age, but the theory lacks coherence

There is a clear, algorithmic formula for writing books about technology and society in 2018. Authors are generally required to be male, their documented personal journey must have been from that of techno-optimist to techno-sceptic to techno-panicker. There must be an urgent existential threat to either democracy or humanity lurking in the code base of Silicon Valley companies. The intractable crisis is not so profound, however, that it cannot be solved by a hail of partially thought-through remedies tacked on in the appendix.

This recipe is producing a growing body of what might be termed “techlash” literature: the backlash against Silicon Valley and its seemingly unstoppable accretion of wealth, data and cultural and political capital. Where once we might have read expansive works of science fiction creating vivid and ambiguous alternative realities to help us navigate the future, now we have worrisome documentaries of threats so present they have often played out by the time the galley hits the review pile. In the last year several notable techlash titles have appeared, including Franklin Foer’s World Without Mind, Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchants and Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things.

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Source: gadt

Children's book praising Hitler as 'amazing leader' pulled by Indian publisher

Publisher Pegasus had claimed Hitler was included for his leadership skills, alongside Gandhi, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela

An Indian publisher has withdrawn a book for children which included Adolf Hitler on a list of “amazing leaders … who have devoted their lives [to] the betterment of their country and people”.

Pegasus, the children’s books imprint of India’s B Jain Publishing Group, confirmed to the Guardian on 26 March that its title Leaders was no longer on sale, following widespread criticism of its decision to feature Hitler in the book, alongside the likes of Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.

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Source: gad

Henry Moore rubbished Barbara Hepworth sculpture, diaries say

Revered artist said to have slated rival sculptor’s work when Tate board was considering buying it

He is revered as one of the masters of 20th-century British sculpture, but Henry Moore belittled rival artists while promoting himself within the Tate gallery, according to previously unpublished diaries.

In 1945, the Tate’s board was considering whether to purchase a wooden sculpture by Barbara Hepworth. Moore, then a gallery trustee, interjected with the damning words: “If sculpture [was] nothing more than that, it would be a poor affair.” The ploy worked. The Hepworth was rejected by the board, while every one of seven sculptures the Tate bought that year was by none other than Henry Moore. The incident is recorded in the diaries of John Rothenstein, who headed the Tate for 26 years from 1938.

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Source: gad

Andras Forgach: 'My mother was a Cold War spy'

Thirty years after the fall of communism, the acclaimed Hungarian novelist András Forgách was handed a file of top secret documents. In them he learned that not only had his beloved mother been an agent for the state, she’d also been spying on her own family…

I was once, aged 22, invited for a series of interviews by the British secret service. The interviews, designed to assess my suitability for espionage, took place in a blacked-out room in central London. I was intrigued by the process, somewhat flattered by the approach, but then at the end of the interviews came the moment of truth – or, more exactly, the moment of duplicity. I was invited to sign the Official Secrets Act and thereafter, I was told, no one could know of these meetings – not my family, not my girlfriend (now my wife), not my friends – and that would, potentially, be the defining fact of my life from now on. I sat there with a pen poised above the dotted line and had a sudden, unnerving sense of that future, the divisions of loyalty it would involve, the psychological doubleness it would require. I doubt very much I was ever spying material anyhow, but, in that moment, pen poised, I decided not to go ahead.

I mention that story now only because I was reminded of how that moment felt while sitting one afternoon last month in snowy London with András Forgách. Through spy fiction and films, we have perhaps become blasé about the family betrayals required by state secrecy. Forgách, a Hungarian, reminds me that in the east of our continent, where those compromises were a fact of life for many families for whole lifetimes, they are rarely so sanguine.

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Source: gad

Kit de Waal: ‘I read my first novel aged 22’

The novelist on her Irish heritage, the passing of time and why she’s glad she didn’t start young

Kit de Waal’s bestselling debut novel, My Name Is Leon, was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Desmond Elliott prize and the Costa first novel award. Born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and a Caribbean father, she worked in criminal and family law for 15 years before becoming a writer. Her new novel, The Trick to Time, is published by Viking on 29 March (£12.99).

Your new novel is about a young couple of Irish immigrants in Birmingham, Mona and Will, and a tragedy that tears them apart. What came to you first: the characters or their heartbreaking situation?
Mona came first. Characters always do for me. It was getting to know her that gave me the story; it was driven by her identity and her history. I wanted to write something about my Irish heritage. I wanted to talk about my mother’s generation moving here from Ireland and explore the dislocation they felt when they first came, how quickly they were assimilated into the culture while never actually becoming British. The Irish very much remain Irish wherever they are. My grandmother, honestly, you would never have thought she left the fields of Wexford.

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Source: gad