The latest on books and the arts


Mark E Smith, lead singer of The Fall.
Totally mired: The Big Midweek reveals the dark side of The Fall
By Austin Collings - 12 February 10:21

Steve Hanley and Olivia Piekarski's new book lifts the lid on one of the most turbulent bands in pop.

Vanishing act: Branwell's portrait of the Brontës
The phantom menace: in search of the real Branwell Brontë
By Frances Wilson - 12 February 10:16

Sanctuary: a Novel dramatises the lives of the writerly sisters - and their forgotten artist brother.

Erich Maria Remarque. Photo: Albert Harlingue/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
The Promised Land: Erich Maria Remarque's unfinished final book has a humane power
By Adam Kirsch - 12 February 10:13

The fragmented last work from the author of All Quiet on the Western Front.

“Autumn crocus”: a new short story by David Vann
By David Vann - 12 February 10:10

A retelling of the gruesome story of Medea’s revenge.

Artwork: Nina Kogan/AKG
“Nina Kogan’s Geometrical Heaven”: a new poem by Clive James
By Clive James - 12 February 10:02

Two of her little pictures grace my walls:
Suprematism in a special sense,
With all the usual bits and pieces flying
Through space, but carrying a pastel-tinged
Delicacy to lighten the strict forms
Of that hard school and blow them all sky-high,

Seduced by the devil. Image: Manuel Harlan.
Europe and its demons: How To Hold Your Breath at the Royal Court Theatre
By Barbara Speed - 11 February 12:19

Beyond the intellectual weight of the play's message the production falls a little flat.

ENO's The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Photo: Catherine Ashmore
Topped in translation: two new London operas make a case for English-language productions
By Alexandra Coghlan - 10 February 15:26

The English National Opera’s  The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and the Royal Opera’s L’Ormindo show that translated music-theatre can be exceptional.

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #5
By Critical Distance - 09 February 13:24

Which Lord of the Rings game would Sauron play?

In the Frame: Nineties Montage
By Tom Humberstone - 06 February 10:00

Tom Humberstone's weekly comic.

Liv Corfixen with her husband Nicolas Winding Refn. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
“My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn” shows the toll that filmmaking can take on directors
By Ryan Gilbey - 06 February 9:31

The film, made by Winding Refn’s wife Liv Corfixen, is an intriguing contribution to the film-behind-the-films genre and a revealing study of ambition and vulnerability.

Fiercely modern and aggressively cinematic: David Oyelowo as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in Selma
Supreme leaders: what Selma and The Interview tell us about the power of the leading man
By Ryan Gilbey - 05 February 15:33

The civil rights drama and political farce could not seem more different. But David Oyelowo and James Franco share a dynamism sadly overlooked in awards season.

Seriously scary: Michael Gambon as the photographer Henry Tyson in Fortitude
David Lynch with polar bears? New crime series Fortitude is so much more
By Rachel Cooke - 05 February 15:16

The series killed off Christopher Eccleston to let Sofie Gråbøl and Stanley Tucci steal the show. Intriguing or batty? It's both.

Prodigy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a child. Picture: Rex features
Extended play: the world's longest Mozart festival debuts at Wigmore Hall
By Caroline Crampton - 05 February 15:15

On Mozart 250 and Sarah Connolly in America.

Mind over matter: Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem
A night at the brain gym: Tom Stoppard’s new play The Hard Problem is his most diverse yet
By Mark Lawson - 05 February 15:06

It may be the shortest Stoppard full-length play, but The Hard Problem still offers 100 minutes of touching humour from a varied cast.

David Attenborough. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
All questions great and small: an unusually ruminative Chris Evans speaks to David Attenborough
By Antonia Quirke - 05 February 15:04

Following his on-air announcement of a prostate cancer scare last week, the Radio 2 DJ has been in thoughtful mode.

Jeremy Clarkson at the Top Gear Festival in Sydney. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: The more attention we pay to childish behaviour, the more we get
By Tracey Thorn - 05 February 14:47

Indulging childishness is why we’re stuck with Boris Johnson, Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson.

Pan and Syrinx.
Hollywood hokum: Rubens only shone when he showed some restraint
By Craig Raine - 05 February 10:54

A new Royal Academy of Arts exhibition makes Craig Raine yearn for the draughtsman rather than the dramatic.

Tom Stoppard on art, Charlie Hebdo - and why it's a bad time to be a voter
By Erica Wagner - 05 February 10:51

"Time is short, life is short. There's a lot to know."

Blackfriars tube, circa 1930. Photo: George Davison Reid
Anthony Quinn's Curtain Call: a murder mystery that captures the spirit of a decade
By Libby Purves - 05 February 10:35

With Orwell-clear prose and a Trollope-sized cast, Curtain Call makes the 1930s glitter.

The 18-year-old Antonia Pakenham in 1950. Photo: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis
Antonia Fraser and David Lodge: A tale of two writers, posh and prole
By John Mullan - 05 February 10:31

New memoirs from Antonia Fraser and David Lodge show very different British upbringings.

David Cameron and the late Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street. Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images
Where Thatcher feared to tread: Cameron’s Coup shows a man on a mission
By George Eaton - 05 February 10:20

Polly Toynbee and David Walker's Cameron's Coup is an unashamedly caustic review of the last five years.

US Military Police guard detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Photo: Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy/Getty Image
An extraordinary diary from Guantanamo Bay reveals the failure of American democracy
By David Rose - 05 February 10:17

Detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi's account of the camp is heartbreaking. But it is crucial the truth is told.

The Collier, by Robert Havell (1814). Image: Science and Society Picture Library
To be continued: how much has English society changed since 1714?
By Mark Damazer - 05 February 10:15

Much has changed in English culture since 1710. But a new book argues our systems of power are less different than we might think.

Marmalade on toast. Photo: Rex features
Why marmalade endures: the tale of a bear and his favourite preserve
By Felicity Cloake - 05 February 10:10

It's a food Felicity Cloake has enjoyed since childhood. Now Paddington is helping to revive flagging marmalade sales.

Ramekin disaster. Illustration: Jackson Rees
Will Self: Why I hate ramekins
By Will Self - 05 February 10:08

I may be late to the party, but I am tough on ramekin – and on the causes of ramekin.

Ernest Hemingway (R), who took revenge on ex-wife Martha Gelhorn in his novel “Across the River and into the Trees”. Photo: AFP/Getty
Should you be wary of writers you know? You might just be providing them with free material
By Oliver Farry - 05 February 9:00

Perhaps the most pervasive source of self-censorship for writers is their relationships with the people around them.

A still from Pride, the 2014 film about the Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners campaign.
What today’s activists can learn from the Lesbians Against Pit Closures campaign
By Rebecca Winson - 04 February 12:53

Their triumph came through recognising that although their own oppression was important, it didn’t mean they couldn’t recognise others’ struggles as well.

Emergency duvets, sword pegs and the “Plastic Fantastic”: review of Inside the Commons
By Anoosh Chakelian - 03 February 16:48

Will the first instalment of Michael Cockerell’s documentary series given unprecedented access to parliament horrify or mollify voters?

Pulitzer Prize winner and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee in 2007. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee to publish second novel
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 03 February 15:49

The sequel will be titled “Go Set a Watchman”.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in “The Hunger Games”.
Why I want more unlikeable female characters
By S L Huang - 03 February 12:11

When we don’t let women live the whole range of humanity – making mistakes, screwing things up, not being very nice – we miss out.