Grammy Awards 2012: in pictures

Adele thanks "doctors who brought my voice back" as she takes home six Grammys.

Record of the year: Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"

Album of the year: Adele, 21

Song of the year: Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth (song writer award), "Rolling In The Deep"

Best new artist: Bon Iver

Best pop solo performance: Adele, "Someone Like You"

Best rock album: Foo Fighters, Wasting Light

Best pop duo: Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse, "Body and Soul"

Best pop vocal album: Adele, 21

Best rap album: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Best pop instrumental album: Booker T. Jones, The Road From Memphis

Best dance record: Skrillex, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites

Best dance/electronica album: Skrillex, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites

Best traditional pop vocal album: - Tony Bennett & Various Artists, Duets II

Best rock performance: Foo Fighters, "Walk"

Best hard rock/metal performance: Foo Fighters, "White Limo"

Best rock song: Foo Fighters (songwriters), "Walk"

Best alternative music album: Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Best R&N performance: Corinne Bailey Rae, "Is This Love"

Best traditional R&B performance: Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona, "Fool for You"

Best R&B song: Cee Lo Green, Melanie Hallim, Jack Splash (songwriters), "Fool for You"

Best R&B album: Chris Brown, F.A.M.E

Best rap performance: Jay-Z & Kanye West, "Otis"

Best rap/sung collaboration: Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie, "All of the Lights"

Best rap song: Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West (songwriters), "All of the Lights"

Best country solo performance: Taylor Swift, "Mean"

Best country duo/group performance: The Civil Wars, "Barton Hollow"

Best country song: Taylor Swift (songwriter), "Mean"

Best country album: Lady Antebellum, Own The Night

Best new age album: Pat Metheny, What's It All About

Best improvised jazz solo: Chick Corea, "500 Miles High"

Best jazz vocal album: Terri Lyne Carrington & Various Artists, The Mosaic Project

Best jazz instrumental album: Corea, Clarke & White, Forever

Best large jazz ensemble album: Christian McBride Big Band, The Good Feeling

Best gospel/contemporary Christian music performance: Le'Andria Johnson "Jesus"

Best gospel song: Kirk Franklin (songwriter), "Hello Fear"

Best contemporary Christian music song: Laura Story (songwriter), "Blessings"

Best gospel album: Kirk Franklin, Hello Fear

Best contemporary Christian music album: Chris Tomlin, And If Our God Is for Us...

Best Latin pop, rock or urban album: Mana, Drama y Luz

Best regional Mexican or Tejano album: Pepe Aguilar, Bicentenario

Best Banda or Norteno album: Los Tigres Del Norte, Los Tigres Del Norte and Friends

Best tropical Latin album: Cachao, The Last Mambo

Best Americana album: Levon Helm, Ramble at the Ryman

Best bluegrass album: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane

Best blues album: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator

Best folk album: The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

Best regional roots music album: Rebirth Brass Band, Rebirth of New Orleans

Best reggae album: Stephen Marley, Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life

Best world music album: Tinariwen, Tassili

Best children's album: Various Artists, All About Bullies ... Big and Small

Best spoken word album: Betty White, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't)

Best comedy album: Louis C.K., Hilarious

Best musical theatre album: The Book of Mormon

Best short form music video: Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"

Best long form music video: Foo Fighters, "Foo Fighters: Back and Forth"

All photos: Getty Images

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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Ned Beauman's Madness Is Better Than Defeat brings jungle fever to a story of cinema

The author's lustrous and smart fourth novel never quite coalesces into purposeful significance.

“We were in the jungle… There were too many of us. We had access to too much money, too much equipment. And little by little, we went insane.” That’s Francis Ford Coppola describing the filming of Apocalypse Now, but it’s also a fair summary – give or take a few hundred pages of CIA machinations, mega-corp skulduggery and hallucinogenic-fungus consumption – of the plot of Ned Beauman’s fourth novel, a teeming shaggy-dog comedy of megalomania and obsession in which nothing and everything seems to be going on at once.

The setting is the Honduran jungle in the late 1930s. Under the command of a visionary director, a Hollywood company sets out to make a film (called Hearts in Darkness, ho, ho) on location at a freshly discovered Mayan temple. When they arrive, they find the temple already half-dismantled by a team of New Yorkers in the service of a reclusive billionaire. The Angelenos scuttle up the steps of the hemi-ziggurat; the New Yorkers pitch camp at the bottom. Decades pass and the two sides, lost to the outside world, evolve a demented micro-civilisation.

Or is that the setting? The setting is also 1930s California, where a studio magnate creeps silently through a mansion. The setting is prewar New York, where a playboy is kidnapped by goons at an octopus-wrestling match. The setting is Virginia in 1959, where a CIA operative called Zonulet sifts through a warehouse packed with innumerable spools of film. The setting is a hospital in Maryland, in which Zonulet may be imagining the events of the book after inhaling a deliriant hallucinogen. The setting is Borges’s Aleph, or Leibniz’s monad: that mystical point in the universe “from which all other points are visible”.

As the narrative moves forward and Beauman gleefully particle-collides his various fascinations – postmodern paranoia, Hollywood screwball comedy, occult mysteries, spy fiction and the real-life on-set horrors of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and the 1930s film serial The New Adventures of Tarzan – such interpretations flicker in and out of probability like quantum states.

Beauman is a sparkling writer, and his book bustles with diverting micro-narratives. There’s a murderous fugitive Nazi who persuades the camp that he’s part of the “German-American Alliance” that won the war, a mousy anthropologist who becomes a leader of men, a newspaperman who gets a Murdoch-style stranglehold on the temple’s occupants, and many more.

But the underlying order is symbolic. The director of Hearts in Darkness, the sprawling meta-movie at the centre of the novel, argues that all good cinema follows a simple rule: its narrative intensifies in five or six escalating steps before “giving way to a thrilling interval of weightlessness or flight, then returning to the status quo”. Represented as a diagram, this trajectory resembles a side view of half a ziggurat, which can also be seen as a diagram of a succession of people following in each other’s footsteps. For example, a novelist writing about someone making a film of a doomed expedition into the jungle. Madness begets madness in this novel, almost as if some conspiracy or occult order were being worked out.

Is any of this familiar? Narrative as geometry, with diagrams. Chipper 1930s banter. Funny but significant names (Poyais O’Donnell, which references a 19th-century con trick; Zonulet, which means “little zone”). Nazis. Contagious insanity. An octopus. An airship. A nightmare conspiracy that may just be a druggy hallucination. A few years ago, Beauman told an interviewer that the work of Thomas Pynchon has had “no impact on British fiction, really, apart from perhaps on me and Tom McCarthy”, but this book isn’t so much influenced by Pynchon as colonised by his work. In chapter after chapter, one can feel the shadow of Gravity’s Rainbow sweeping across the text like the spaceship in Independence Day.

Perhaps there’s a point here. Beauman recapitulates Pynchon as Hearts in Darkness recapitulates Heart of Darkness, and so the shape of the half-ziggurat is redrawn. But when a writer steers this close to his models, comparisons are inevitable, and Beauman’s writing, lustrous and smart as it invariably is, lacks much of the moral and emotional seriousness – the fear, the loss, the sorrow, the threat – that acts as a counterweight to Pynchon’s comic and intellectual games. The result is a novel of great intelligence and humour, cleverly structured and brimming with tricks, that never quite coalesces into purposeful significance. It’s a tremendous rainbow, but I’d have welcomed a bit more gravity. 

Madness Is Better Than Defeat
Ned Beauman
Sceptre, 416pp, £16.99

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear