The latest on books and the arts


The Rutles.
A selection of the best Python projects outside of Monty Python
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 July 13:01

Ryan Gilbey celebrates the best work by individual Pythons outside of their famous collaborations, from John Cleese’s slick Brit-flick A Fish Called Wanda to Eric Idle’s Beatles pastiche The Rutles.

Planetoids in Minecraft, by Mike Prosser. Image via Flickr/Creative Commons
Why indie gaming’s obsession with moneymaking hurts us all
By Simon Parkin - 14 July 8:30

The dominant story of this video game-making generation is the one about the struggling artist who made a breakout hit and never needed to work again, and that’s limiting the kind of games that are getting made.

Garth Brooks has cancelled five Dublin gigs in protest at a licensing dispute. Photo: Getty
Why is country star Garth Brooks cancelling five Dublin gigs causing such uproar in Ireland?
By Oliver Farry - 11 July 18:00

Ireland is currently split between people who are mortally embarrassed by the cancellation farrago and those who declare it to be of the utmost importance. What is it with the Irish and country music?

The Libertines. Photo: Getty
Are Pete Doherty and Carl Barât the last of British music’s tempestuous best friendships?
By Anoosh Chakelian - 11 July 16:38

As once estranged Libertines frontmen passionately reunite, they highlight the dearth of stormy musical partnerships in today’s music.

In the Frame: Welcome to our Tory Summer Fundraiser!
By Tom Humberstone - 11 July 12:04

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner in Frances Ha.
Grown women don’t need to have a “best friend”
By Alice Robb - 11 July 9:40

If “best friendship” is on the rise, what does it mean?

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his father (Ethan Hawke) in Linklater’s family drama.
In Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, time fades away
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 July 16:29

Made over more than a decade, this is a film that reminds us life is seen by children from a different angle.

Knowledge is power: the winning Leicester team in 1963. Photo: Rex Features
Fingers on buzzers! University Challenge: Class of 2014
By Rachel Cooke - 10 July 15:54

University Challenge, which first aired in 1962, is an institution. Raiding its archive and interviewing students past and present makes for vivid social history.

No hope: youth unemployment is at crisis levels. Photo: Getty
Owen Jones on The Condition of Britain: where is the left’s transformative programme?
By Owen Jones - 10 July 15:36

The authors of IPPR’s The Condition of Britain offer a coherent plan and one that will be influential if the Labour Party triumphs in May.

The Amazon rainforest. Photo: Getty
Puzzle pieces: finding the patterns in the poetry
By Matthew Sperling - 10 July 13:33

Matthew Sperling looks at new poetry collections by Paul Batchelor, Oli Hazzard, and Toby Martinez de las Rivas.

Montaigne and Shakespeare: two great writers of one mind
By Jonathan Bate - 10 July 13:24

Jonathan Bate traces the Bard’s debt to the French essayist Michel de Montaigne.

Sold is a film about child trafficking. Photo: Courtesy of Sold the movie
"My heart sank and burned": Neerja Naik on making a film about sex trafficking
By Neerja Naik - 10 July 13:05

Actor Neerja Naik on the making of the feature film about sex trafficking, Sold, in India.

Christiane Karg as Sandrina/Violante and Joel Prieto as her former lover. Photo: Tristram Kenton/Glyndebourne
La Finta Giardiniera is one piece of juvenilia opera houses should grow out of
By Alexandra Coghlan - 10 July 12:40

Alexandra Coghlan finds Glyndebourne's glossy and irreverant reworking of Mozart's teenage opera ultimately lacking.

A view over south Bombay (now Mumbai) from Cumbala Hill in c1890. Photo: Getty
From Boston to Bombay: the ten cities that made the British Empire
By Simon Winchester - 10 July 12:27

All ten cities share a self-confident belief: that it is quite unthinkable any of their number might ever dim or wither, no matter the tides of human history that sweep around them.

The white cliffs of Dover and the South Foreland lighthouse. Photo: Getty
Jon Cruddas: Only Labour can speak for England’s roots in a single voice
By Jon Cruddas - 10 July 12:18

The shift towards English identity is a long-term phenomenon that is probably irreversible.

Eating cats and toasting dwarfs: Hellfire, the secret club parliament banned 31 years before it started
By Tim FitzHigham - 10 July 12:16

Comedian Tim FitzHigham looks into the dark history of the Hellfire Club, the only club in world history to be banned by an act of parliament.

Centre Court at Wimbledon. Photo: Getty
Thrilling in the name: Wimbledon on BBC Radio 5 Live
By Antonia Quirke - 10 July 11:58

Is it just me or is everyone enjoying saying the word “Kukushkin” rather a lot?

Pathos: Tom Morris’s 2012 production for ENO. Photo: Rex Features
Those most offended by John Adams’s Death of Klinghoffer haven’t seen it
By Nicholas Lezard - 10 July 11:47

It's a case of knee jerk by proxy, says Nicholas Lezard.

A barn owl. Photo: Getty
A hoot and a half: owls, it turns out, are hard to draw
By Sophie McBain - 10 July 11:43

There is no shortage of life drawing lessons but these seem to be the only classes in which live animals – owls – are doing the modelling.

A statue of James Joyce in Dublin. Photo: Getty
Will Self: navigating Dublin with a literary map in my head
By Will Self - 10 July 11:39

I had gone to Dublin with the express intention of understanding a city that to me has always seemed incoherent – and even a little minatory.

Master of the currents: pint-sized Bobby is the shy hero of My Teacher Is a Monster!
Pranksters and ponies: the best new children’s books for summer
By Amanda Craig - 10 July 11:39

What should you pack for the summer holiday?

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in Embankment Gardens in London in 1965. Photo: Getty
Happy memories, regrets and bitching: a history of British folk clubs
By Erica Wagner - 10 July 11:39

This is a book is stuffed with such wonderful stories, recounted by the people who were there at every level of music-making: players, producers, writers, comedians, friends and fans.

Midsummer revelry at Stonehenge. Photo: Getty
My nerves can’t cope with three random midsummer encounters in the space of 15 seconds
By Nicholas Lezard - 10 July 11:13

I’d long planned to go up to the Heath on Midsummer Night to frolic under the stars.

Earthy delights: cellar at L’Esguard, a “constructionist” restaurant in Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, near Barcelona. Photograph: Ferdinando Scianna/Magnum
No rain on the plain in post-Franco Spain
By Nina Caplan - 10 July 11:10

Spain has emerged from ossification since Franco’s death, and nowhere more admirably than in its wine industry.

By Roger McGough - 10 July 8:42

A poem by Roger McGough.

Reviews round-up | 10 July
By Critic - 09 July 11:34

The critics’ verdicts on Linda Grant, Will Hodgkinson and Helen McCarthy.

Grand designs: from left to right, James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore.
The Manic Street Preachers: “I’ll always hate the Tory party. But now I hate Labour, too”
By Dorian Lynskey - 08 July 14:46

The Manic Street Preachers talk to Dorian Lynskey about meeting Castro, losing faith in politics and why Europe is a “unified art movement”.

Goltzius and the Pelican Company.
The play’s the thing: Peter Greenaway’s Goltzius and the Pelican Company
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 July 13:00

Critics and audiences may have long given up on British painter-turned-director Peter Greenaway, but his sensuous, smart, arty films are asking questions few others would dare to contemplate.

Francesca Martinez: “The fact that I’m wobbly and a woman terrifies TV commissioners”
By Anoosh Chakelian - 07 July 14:39

The comedian and disability campaigner Francesca Martinez discusses being “wobbly”, tackling the prejudices of the entertainment industry, and how she overcame her tough school days.

Entourage too small? Joe Hart and Wayne Rooney at a World Cup press conference, 21 June. Photo: Getty
Next time, let’s give our lads their own hair stylists and some major surgery
By Hunter Davies - 04 July 17:06

And of course give up all training or playing for five weeks before their first game, perhaps even have some major surgery, spend some time in a wheelchair, like Luis Suárez.