Category Archives: Culture

Artwork hidden under Picasso painting revealed by x-ray

Non-invasive imaging reveals landscape painting beneath Pablo Picasso’s The Crouching Beggar but who created it remains a mystery

Wrapped in a mustard coloured blanket with a white scarf and her head on one side, Pablo Picasso’s La Misereuse Accroupie (The Crouching Beggar) is a study of forlorn resignation. But researchers say that there is more to desolate character than meets the eye.

Beneath the mournful image lies another painting, a landscape, researchers have revealed after using non-invasive imaging techniques to examine the work.

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Source: gad

David Hare: ‘All good dramatists are scared of the audience’

The playwright, 70, talks about boring Bexhill, envious Ted Hughes, flogging at Lancing and his shocking self-hatred

My father was a sailor, so he was away for 11 months of the year. Even when he came home, he was still absent. My mother was nervous, shy and insecure, and long periods without a husband were the last thing she needed. She was very embarrassed when my father omitted his children from his will, but my sister was not surprised. She said: “Dad was never interested in us when we were alive, why should he be interested just because he’s dead?”

It’s wonderful fortune for a writer to be born somewhere boring. In the 1950s, Bexhill and boredom were joined at the hip. Tedium is hugely stimulating for a child’s imagination. Suburbia is a classic writer’s breeding ground. For the rest of your life everywhere you go is intensely interesting, because it’s not Bexhill.

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Source: gad

How I beat anorexia by savouring the lavish meals of literature

Laura Freeman had the eating disorder since her teens, but the enticing food conjured by Charles Dickens and Laurie Lee set her free

Laura Freeman was first diagnosed with anorexia aged 14. A decade later she had begun to rebuild her life but still struggled with her attitude to food, eating small portions of the same thing for months on end. “At 24, I’d got to the point where I was recovered enough that I could eat, but only in a very formulaic way,” she says. “I had a pretty boring diet. It was more about getting through each day.”

Then one day she read a passage in Siegfried Sassoon’s 1928 Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man describing “a breakfast of boiled eggs eaten in winter”. It changed everything.

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Source: gad

Home by Amanda Berriman review – a child’s view of family poverty

A four-year-old narrator powerfully brings home the fears of living life on the edge

You already know Jesika, the four-year-old protagonist of Amanda Berriman’s debut. You will have seen her with her mum and baby brother squeezing a buggy laden with shopping bags on to the bus. Maybe you know them from the supermarket aisles, the mum exhausted and close to snapping, silently doing sums in her head. Jesika and her family live on the edge. They are scraping by, renting a slum flat in dangerous disrepair. One stroke of bad luck could push them into the abyss – and they face more than a few pushes in this book.

It is Jesika’s naive voice that tells this story of a family moving ever closer to disaster. Her first-person narration features childlike logic and rhythms of thought, misinterpreted and compacted words. On night falling, she says:

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Source: gad

Homeland: Claire Danes sulks her way through more relentless catastrophising

What was once unmissable event TV is now struggling to find its place in Trump’s world. But one thing’s for sure: Carrie loves scrambled eggs

“There’s a vast government conspiracy and you’re the only one who can bring it to light? I know, Carrie,” sighs Maggie in Homeland (Sunday, 9pm, Channel 4). Maggie has had it up to here with her sister’s relentless catastrophising and, let’s be honest, so have we.

Once one of the most lavishly praised shows on TV, now Homeland is suffering from an identity crisis, having transitioned from the smash-bang hyperactivity of 24 to a slo-mo snoozefest in which ex-CIA operative Carrie (Claire Danes) yells things like: “The country is in freefall, [it’s] tearing itself apart,” before taking herself off to bed in a huff. 

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Source: gad

‘It was heartbreaking’: the bleak truth behind Bafta-chasing migrant drama

Stark realities underpin Aamir, Vika Evdokimenko’s ostensibly fictional tale of a young migrant forced to fend for himself

Aamir is just 13. Like many teenagers, his coming of age is marked by a wispy moustache above his upper lip, a vulnerability in his hunched shoulders, a voice not yet broken.

But after soldiers break into his family home in Mosul and shoot and kill his father, Aamir must become a man. His mother sends him away with a few wads of cash and his father’s watch as insurance, hoping to give him a better life – one he might actually survive. But as the boy tries to find his feet all alone in a foreign world, will he end up losing his mind in the process?

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Source: gad

Hanif Kureishi: my beautiful box-set binge

For years, the novelist resisted the lure of TV. And then he watched all 86 episodes of The Sopranos, followed by Gomorrah and Mad Men. He salutes the most vital writers of our culture

If you really want to know about it, I will own up. I’ve barely left the house in the last 18 months because I’ve been watching what for me seems like a lot of TV, around five hours a night. And I can’t say that a moment of it – apart from, say, the second season of Mr Robot – feels like wasted time. There are scenes in Mad Men and Transparent that are as accomplished and lovely, as profound and truthful, as anything I’ve seen in the cinema. And the episode in Breaking Bad where the former chemistry teacher Walter White buries the money he has accumulated by selling crystal meth – transforming the spoils into waste or shit – is one of the most illuminating in all art.

Apart from the news, sport and documentaries about the Beatles, I hadn’t watched much television since the 1980s. Nor, as a young man, did I consider writing for TV. It was too compromised; and, with a few exceptions, the overall standard was low. As for the movies, many of the film directors wanted to be artists rather than storytellers, a vanity that ruined many directors and displaced writers. The screenwriter’s best hope was to resemble a back seat driver, yelling mostly unheard ideas from behind. It looked as if the truest test of the good dramatist was his or her ability to script plays.

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Source: gad

Troye Sivan: ‘There’s power in living openly while being gay’

With his Madonna referencing music and porn star-featuring video, the vlogger turned musician is redefining what it is to be a male pop star

Troye Sivan is pop’s greatest hope for the future. His horny and hedonistic new single My My My! is already the year’s best, and its accompanying video – all heaving torsos, wet-look hair and more strutting than a Victoria’s Secret runway show – screams “superstar” in big neon letters. In person, 22-year-old Sivan, like that other modern-day superstar Lorde, is a softly spoken, hugely intelligent over-thinker. But the Troye Sivan of My My My! is the epitome of what 2018 needs: a star sashaying in a billowing shirt, frayed denim and tight white vest, singing a synthpop explosion of a song about sex from a male perspective that doesn’t make you want to bathe in bleach immediately after hearing it. While Justin Timberlake wonders what his lady friend is going to do “with all that meat” (pop it in the freezer?) on comeback single Filthy, and Jason Derulo literally equates women with animals in his video for Tip Toe, My My My! is a universal, celebratory rush saturated in playful lust.

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Source: gad

Pushing back: why it's time for women to rewrite the story

Poe, Updike, Roth, Mailer: many male authors have contributed to a culture in which the credibility of women is undermined. It’s time to put a stop to the gaslighting, writes Sarah Churchwell

In 1938 a play debuted at the Richmond theatre, which opens with a Victorian husband telling his wife that though she has been “very good lately”, she mustn’t “read meanings into everything” or “imagine things”. “Is it possible you’re beginning to see my point of view?” she asks. On the contrary: her husband is systematically working to extinguish her perspective, to convince her that she is mad. Every night as he searches their attic (for jewels he believes are there), his movements cause the gas lamps to flicker.

In Patrick Hamilton’s play, the flickering lamps verify the wife’s suspicions; in the Hollywood film of Gas Light, released six years later, they make her further doubt her own senses. “Gaslighting” soon came to denote psychological warfare, the deliberate undermining of another’s sanity. More recently, it has been resuscitated as a metaphor for the cultural sabotage of women’s perceptions, for trivialising their concerns as imaginary. Gaslighting is about women fighting to get men to see their point of view.

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Source: gad

Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin review – a meditation on loneliness

This bruising yet surprisingly tender tale of urban isolation shines a light on the drifters and the broken-down

Hector Hidalgo is a young Mexican boxer who wants to turn professional. Only “Hector Hidalgo” doesn’t exist – he’s the persona of Horace Hopper, a 21-year-old ranch hand born to a Native American father and an Irish mother who is desperate to escape his own stifling sense of failure. The trouble with reinventing oneself is that it involves leaving other people behind, and US novelist and musician Willy Vlautin’s fifth novel is a meditation on loneliness, in which the outer and inner landscapes ring with a sound akin to desolation.

Horace lives in Nevada on the Reese ranch, having been taken in as a teenager by Mr Reese and his wife, now in their 70s. Mr Reese wants Horace to take over the ranch but Horace feels unworthy of such trust, gnawed at by his mother’s abandonment of him, aged 12, to his Irish grandmother, who is sketched with Vlautin’s typical blunt strokes as a woman who “drank Coors light on ice from 11am until she fell asleep on the couch at nine, who chain-smoked cigarettes, who ate only frozen dinners, and who was scared of Indians, blacks and Mexicans”.

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Source: gad