The latest on books and the arts


Kyle Chandler in Bloodline. Photo: Saeed Ayani/Netflix
Blame it on the binge: when you get to Bloodline, it may be time to take a Netflix break
By Rachel Cooke - 09 April 16:42

Netflix thinks of its audience in much the same way as small children think of ducks: keep the bread coming and fast, or they'll soon waddle away.

Girls keep it together in front of their rock’n’roll idols. It’s men who turn into gibbering wrecks
By Suzanne Moore - 09 April 15:38

Middle aged men are complete emotional wrecks verging on hysteria a lot of the time.

The Culture Debate in progress. Photo: @BBCArts
Four things we learned from the culture debate
By Caroline Crampton - 08 April 21:34

Everyone agrees about everything. Almost.

Matt Smith as Bully in Lost River.
Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, proves he isn't perfect after all
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 April 17:04

This film isn’t bad. Worse: it’s mediocre.

As a 12 year old, Twin Peaks was the most exciting thing I had ever seen.
What made Twin Peaks so special?
By Christian Donlan - 08 April 11:35

Nothing since has been able to measure up to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Nothing has had its power. Why not?

The big, bad apple: New York’s Queensboro Bridge, linking Manhattan and Queens. Photo: MOMENT
In Atticus Lish’s sweeping novel of 21st-century New York, even love seems pointless
By Olivia Laing - 08 April 10:10

Preperation for the Next Life is remarkably well-researched, but doesn't forget the profound intimacy of life on the margins.

Deep in the roar: Niagara Falls, from an 1860 painting by Frederic Church. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The lost landscape of America: chasing the vanishing sublime
By John Burnside - 08 April 9:10

While the landscapes of Thoreau and Watkins have been preserved by their art, John Burnside finds the wilderness that once covered America neutralised.

Soap opera yarn-spinner: Vargas Llosa. Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Mario Vargas Llosao confuses porny, blockbuster daydreams with intricacy
By Leo Robson - 08 April 9:10

Repeitition is the default mode in The Discreet Hero - an abberation in Llosa's career which confuses quantity with literary quality.

Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
"The Glen": a new poem by Kathleen Jamie
By Kathleen Jamie - 08 April 8:57

“It’s nothing to us”, you might shrug...

Billie Holiday and her dog Mister in 1947. Photo: William P Gottlieb Collection
The bottle, the blues and Billie Holiday
By Yo Zushi - 07 April 17:06

Lady Day, a century after her birth.

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #13
By Critical Distance - 07 April 12:07

The representation of autism in games.

Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd at the ENO. Photo: Tristran Kenton
Meat is murder: Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum
By Caroline Crampton - 02 April 16:24

A subversive semi-staging of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd brings the infamous barber back to London.

A girl wears a fine dress from an earlier era.
The Spitalfields Nippers show the East End before the welfare state
By The Gentle Author - 02 April 15:49

Horace Warner's photographs of the Spitalfields Nippers shows what happened to some of society's most vulnerable - and reminds us of the value we must place on their protection.

Song of songs: a 19th-century illustration of a nightingale from an engraving by Kronheim. Photo: Private Collection/Look and Learn/Bridgeman Images
Helen Macdonald: Our springs grow emptier as the birdsong falls silent
By Helen Macdonald - 02 April 15:22

Every year, the hedgerows are quieter. The author of H is for Hawk mourns the loss of the spring birds – and issues a warning for the future.

Painting the sky. Illustration: David de las Heras
Alan Garner: Revelations from a life of storytelling
By Alan Garner - 02 April 15:13

At the inaugural Garner Lecture, the writer and storyteller reflected on a lifetime in tales – and vowed to keep taking risks.

Presumed innocent: Carroll with the children of his friend the author George MacDonald, 1860s. Photo: Lewis Carroll/Getty Images
Lewis Carroll and his “child-friends”: revelations about Alice and her wonderland
By Lyndall Gordon - 02 April 14:52

New studies by Edward Wakeling and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst uncover the story of one of literature's most debated men.

Heroes of the Dardanelles: wounded Australian and British troops on their way to a hospital ship, August 1915
At the centenary of Gallipoli, Germaine Greer interrogates the myth of Australian nationhood
By Germaine Greer - 02 April 14:00

Was Australia born on the battlefield? 100 years after Gallipoli, the accepted narrative seems further than ever from reality.

Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #12
By Critical Distance - 02 April 9:52

History, politics and policing.

Films about queer women rarely stray from "lesbian drama" clichés – but things are improving
By Eleanor Margolis - 31 March 18:29

The vast majority of films about lesbians are underpinned by a uniquely cringemaking brand of earnestness; Appropriate Behaviour breaks the mould.

Trevor Noah, the South African comedian announced as the new host of the Daily Show. Photo: Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV
Why outsiders like John Oliver and Trevor Noah are taking over American late night TV
By Esther Breger - 31 March 14:25

South African Trevor Noah, the newly-announced host of The Daily Show, joins Brits John Oliver and James Corden in the US’s coveted late-night slots.

“The sex industry is f***ing diabolical”: Artist Sam Roddick on the modern politics of sex
By Anoosh Chakelian - 30 March 16:59

The sex workers’ rights activist and artist calls on the government to protect the sex industry, as her new exhibition on objectification explores society's sexual failings.

The New Statesman Podcast | Episode Eighty-Four
By New Statesman - 30 March 12:48

John Gray on Ed Miliband.

Herdwick and Swaledale sheep roam the hills in spring. Photo: Ashley Cooper/Rex
James Rebanks: “Shepherding is beautiful and interesting. It’s a dignified and decent way to live”
By Caroline Crampton - 30 March 12:36

Caroline Crampton spends the day with James Rebanks, Twitter’s best-known shepherd and author of The Shepherds Life, and learns how he’s updating the centuries-old sheep-farming traditions of the Lake District for the modern day.

Wishy-washy liberalism or the sinister state? The revival of Aristotle in modern politics
By Jules Evans - 30 March 10:31

We now live in the era of the “politics of wellbeing”. But what does that actually mean?

The Coalition will be televised: behind the scenes of Channel 4’s drama about May 2010
By Anoosh Chakelian - 28 March 8:30

James Graham’s film about the formation of the coalition is an impressively human portrayal of constitutional torment.

Children from St Joseph's School, Nottingham, try out “Mission Control” – one of the games at the new National Videogame Arcade. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
The cultural importance of the video game arcade
By Simon Parkin - 27 March 17:25

Once upon a time the arcade was the only place in which the video game could be encountered. Now that games are more often found in our homes and pockets, the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham hopes to give games a physical venue again.

Young Fathers interview: “Pop needs to represent culture as it really is”
By Kate Mossman - 27 March 15:50

The Scottish trio tell Kate Mossman why they want racists to hear their music.

Bette Davis, smoking. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
I only have the occasional fag and I don’t long for nicotine – it’s the society of smoking that I crave
By Suzanne Moore - 27 March 14:50

Smoking for David? It could only be Hockney. Smoker extraordinaire, and not a bad painter either.

Grin and bear it: the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, in Essex in February 2015. Photo: PETER MACDIARMID/GETTY IMAGES
Planes, pains and automobiles: the memoir-manifestos by Caroline Lucas and Nigel Farage
By Ann Treneman - 27 March 14:37

New autobiographies by Nigel Farage and Caroline Lucas get a kick out of calling themselves "outsiders". The truth? They want your votes.

Hegel, in a 19th century portrait. Image: WikiCommons
Slavoj Žižek: A modest rejoinder
By Slavoj Zizek - 27 March 14:24

“Although I am far from a well-meaning liberal, I simply cannot recognise myself in the lunatic-destructive figure described by Cohen.”