The latest on books and the arts


Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge. Photo: Alastair Muir
Nervous breakdown coming on? Time to burst into song
By Mark Lawson - 22 January 11:09

Tamsin Greig stars in the innovative Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, while the Tate Modern wallet incident presses us to ask: what is art?

Playing after dark. Photo: Niall McDiarmid/Millennium Images
A journey into the dark heart of sport: Anna Krien's "Night Games"
By Juliet Jacques - 22 January 10:54

The William Hill 2014 Sports Book of the Year covers the rape trial of an Australian Rules footballer -- but also raises broader questions about how to resolve a culture clash.

Traffic light on amber. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Eventually, I took a driving test. But Mister Much didn’t think much of my motoring skills
By Suzanne Moore - 22 January 10:51

Suzanne Moore learns to drive and finds an accidental therapist.

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall. Photo: BBC
Wolf Hall review: The BBC's new spin on Hilary Mantel's novel is dazzlingly restrained
By Rachel Cooke - 21 January 15:33

There’s nothing else like this unnervingly quiet drama on our screens right now.

Why women are getting a bum deal on film posters
By Ralph Jones - 20 January 14:31

Film posters are addicted to showing a faceless woman from behind, with her legs framing the real hero.

Obscurasoft's gay dating sim “Coming Out on Top”.
Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #2
By Critical Distance - 20 January 10:48

Are queer and black voices being excluded from games?

Christian Bale in the 2000 film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel “American Psycho”.
Women are clever enough to know when art is just misogyny in disguise
By Glosswitch - 19 January 15:37

Misogyny both creates and thrives on women’s intellectual insecurities, implying that dissent merely signifies one’s inability to access a greater, higher truth.

John Maynard Keynes. Photo: Tim Gidal/Picture Post/Getty
Virtuous vices: our mutable notions of good and bad
By John Gray - 16 January 13:48

From jealousy to cowardice to greed, the power of vices is to inspire virtue.

Fred Astaire. Photo: AFP/Getty
"Fred": a new poem by Isobel Dixon
By Isobel Dixon - 16 January 13:35

“Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were sexy, but only with their feet, like butterflies.” – Clive James

P J Harvey. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: Do we really want to watch P J Harvey drinking tea and plugging in studio leads?
By Tracey Thorn - 16 January 13:22

From bonus tracks to signed T-shirts to private concerts, do we end up here, selling not just the finished record, but every moment of the process? 

I am not Charlie. Comic: Tom Humberstone
In The Frame: I am not Charlie
By Tom Humberstone - 15 January 18:00

Our cartoonist Tom Humberstone reflects on the Charlie Hebdo shooting and subsequent debates.

Marion Cotillard has received a surprise Best Actress nomination for Two Days, One Night. Photo: Getty
The 2015 Oscar nominations: no surprises, but a few oddities
By Ryan Gilbey - 15 January 17:13

There is little to surprise a seasoned awards-watcher in this year’s nominations – Ryan Gilbey gives his verdict.

Miles Teller and J K Simmons in the percussion-based psychological thriller Whiplash.
Whiplash and Foxcatcher show there's more than one way to skin a fox
By Ryan Gilbey - 15 January 13:46

Despite strikingly similar prodigies and deranged mentors, Whiplash and Foxcatcher offer two very different takes on the mentor/pupil relationship.

Broad City's stars. Photo Credit: Lane Savage
Why you should be watching Broad City
By Stephanie Boland - 15 January 13:42

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s series pushes its provocative and surreal comedy even further in its second season.

A neon Rubik’s Cube of a novel, designed for our economic age: 10:04 by Ben Lerner
By Philip Maughan - 15 January 13:15

Ben Lerner’s second novel tries to emulate Walt Whitman’s democratic “I” in an age when economic imperatives trump democracy. It is a clever and timely work — as much the story of the novel’s construction as the novel itself.

The novelist Michel Houellebecq in 2010. Photo: Alessando Albert/Getty Images
Michel Houellebecq: France's literary provocateur
By Leo Robson - 15 January 13:09

Michel Houellebecq’s novel imagining his country under Islamic rule featured on the cover of last week's Charlie Hebdo. But it's not the satire you'd expect.

A vinyl single. Photo: Getty
BBC Radio 4's The Single Life revealed the romance of vinyl
By Antonia Quirke - 15 January 12:31

At this rate, the self-funded seven-inch may well make a comeback.

Sophia sells the Suffragette, April 1913. Photo: Museum of London
Woman's Will to Power: The dramatic life of a forgotten suffragette
By Caroline Criado-Perez - 15 January 11:11

Anita Anand's Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary explores the life of an overlooked but important campaigner.

Gangster's paradise: A Brief History of Seven Killings
By Randy Boyagoda - 15 January 11:08

Marlon James's latest novel on Bob Marley and December '76 is more true for being fiction.

Olivia Coleman and David Tennant in Broadchurch.
Onset of madness: Broadchurch has gone completely loopy
By Rachel Cooke - 15 January 11:05

How credulous does Chris Chibnall think we are?

Ivan Vladislavić. Photo: Minky Schlesinger/And Other Stories
Lost in Joburg: Ivan Vladislavić's The Restless Supermarket
By Hedley Twidle - 15 January 11:03

One of South Africa's most accomplished prose stylists gets a timely reissue.

Divine machinations: William Blake, Apprentice and Master
By Erica Wagner - 15 January 10:53

William Blake’s “infernal method” is revealed in an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for AACTA
From a black James Bond to a female Sherlock, diverse casting isn’t PC gone mad – it makes stories better
By Helen Lewis - 15 January 10:39

There was a bit more to Agincourt than a dozen Rada graduates standing around between two curtains.

Beethoven. Image: Getty
Meet the maestro: Beethoven’s fraught personal life
By Nicholas Lezard - 15 January 10:28

Two very different biographical works give surprising insight into the great composer's character.

A culinary clean slate. Photo: Gallery Stock.
Felicity Cloake: let’s face it, detox diets are making fools of us
By Felicity Cloake - 15 January 10:26

In many ways, January diets are as self-indulgent as the Christmas binge.

A stethoscope. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images
My keyboard is held together by Sellotape. And what’s that strange buzzing in my groin?
By Nicholas Lezard - 15 January 10:21

Failing hardware and Withnail occupy Nicholas Lezard.

Apocalypse now: celebrating the end of an era. Photo by Su--May, Flickr
Farewell to the 12 Bar Club
By Yo Zushi - 14 January 17:15

Another Soho landmark bites the dust.

Eddie Redmayne (right) as the young Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”.
Stephen Hawking would not be Stephen Hawking if he had been born with his disability
By Alex Taylor - 14 January 12:32

The physicist is held up as an example of what you can achieve in life if you have a disability, but he was only diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was 21 – his career was set in motion while he was still able-bodied.

Bioshock Infinite: can it really be called a “living, breathing world”?
Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #1
By Critical Distance - 13 January 15:38

Are we about to enter an “age of games”?

Marilyn Monroe, photographed on 3 December 1961, when she was 35. Photo: Archive/AFP/Getty Images
From Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn: why dead women make the ideal brand ambassadors
By Karen Yossman - 12 January 12:35

The trend for using long-dead actresses to front campaigns aimed at female consumers is at best tasteless and at worst insidious.