Culture Vulture: the NS recommends

Have you read our book reviews? Are you hungry for more? Then try these.

The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It
Philip Ball
Bodley Head, 451pp, £20

Combining technical knowledge with an illuminating style, the science writer Philip Ball argues for the centrality of music to human culture, taking in philosophy, mathematics, history and neurology.

Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?
Mark Fisher
Zero Books, 92pp, £7.99

The 2008 financial crash has failed to reinvigorate progressive politics, although many hoped that it would. The critic and academic (and NS contributor) Mark Fisher explains why this is so. His brief but compelling polemic shows how three decades of Thatcherism have left us unable to imagine a better society -- and saddled with a dysfunctional market state.

Read Hard: Five Years of Great Writing from the Believer
Edited by Ed Park and Heidi Julavits
McSweeney's, 389pp, £16.99

The American literary journal the Believer, part of Dave Eggers's McSweeney's empire, celebrates its fifth birthday with this collection of essays and interviews. An eclectic range of topics (from W G Sebald to Dungeons and Dragons, from urban blight to 1930s crime scandals) is covered by writers including Rick Moody, Jonathan Lethem, Tom Bissell and Richard Powers.

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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink