The latest on books and the arts


In the Frame: Generation gap
By Tom Humberstone - 13 February 10:58

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

A health worker administers the polio vaccine to children in Yemen. Photo: Reuters
How immunity became a political issue: Eula Bliss’s timely study of disease and vaccination
By Steven Poole - 13 February 9:49

With "anti-vaxxers" dominating the headlines, Biss's new book is a thoughtful examination of how people feel about vaccines.

Dawkins with the band in the studio.
Richard Dawkins to feature on Finnish metal band Nightwish's new album
By Stephanie Boland - 13 February 9:43

The biologist-turned-atheist campaigner is sampled on the band's forthcoming Endless Forms Most Beautiful.

David Cameron unveils this year's campaign poster. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Instant messaging: looking back on the golden age of political advertising
By Bryan Appleyard - 13 February 9:00

Sam Delaney’s Mad Men and Bad Men: What Happened when British Politics Met Advertising captures forty years of politics – through posters.

Andy Warhol's cookie jar collection at Magnificent Obsessions. Photo: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images
From Warhol to Hirst, artists’ collections give a personal take on the twentieth century
By Stephanie Boland - 12 February 15:07

The Barbican's Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector.

Actors Jamie Dornan (L) and Dakota Johnson at a fan screening of Fifty Shades Of Grey. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
More M&Ms than S&M: Fifty Shades of Grey is noxiously sweet – and totally blank
By Ryan Gilbey - 12 February 13:10

We can’t disparage these actors any more than we can blame a man in a hammerless world for failing to bang a nail into the wall.

Visitors to a sanatorium in Transnistria, which does not recognise the USSR's collapse.
World on a wire: two books reveal the truth about life in modern Russia
By David Patrikarakos - 12 February 10:57

Peter Pomerantsev's Nothing is True and Everything is Possible meets Rory MacLean and Nick Danziger's Back in the USSR.

A glass of wine in Savoie. Photo: William Craig Moyes
The grapes of sloth: Nina Caplan relaxes in Savoie's vineyards
By Nina Caplan - 12 February 10:52

Buckets, bobsleds and a battery-powered bike.

Ash trees in Gloucestershire. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Finding a better word for “tree”: why naming the landscape could be the thing to save it
By Lucy Purdy - 12 February 10:23

Photographer Dominick Tyler began the “The Landreader Project” to collect countryside vocabulary after finding his own impoverished. Could saving the Earth be a matter of language?

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.