I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke
Few performers have as distinctive a voice as “the Bard of Salford”. In John Cooper Clarke’s first autobiography, his wry style is as recognisable as it is when he reads “Beasley Street” on stage. Clarke recalls his life, from his childhood in a Salford suburb, through the early days of his career opening for local punk acts, and into the debilitating heroin addiction he finally faced up to in the late Eighties. With appearances from personalities including Chuck Berry and Alex Turner, this is an exuberant account of a remarkable life.
Picador, 480pp, £20
Unions Renewed by Alice Martin and Annie Quick
Since the 1980s we have seen two related economic trends: the expansion and deregulation of finance and the decline of organised labour. Martin and Quick, both formerly of the New Economics Foundation, think this pattern is shifting: finance is faltering and the union movement “is showing signs of recovery”. Unions Renewed offers not only an admirably clear explanation of how a notoriously complex phenomenon – financialisation – has “profoundly impacted the ability of workers to organise”, but bold strategies for how today’s unions can help to “build the foundation of a more democratic economy of the future”.
Polity, 140pp, £14.99
In the Kitchen: Essays on Food and Life
Looking ahead to a winter indoors, this warming and varied collection of essays on food, cooking and all the emotions that get tangled up in the process, is a true balm. Highlights include the novelist Daisy Johnson recalling the recipes that have become accidental rituals – her family always makes pizzas on Christmas Eve – and Mayukh Sen’s tender exploration of how we cook in order to talk about grief, in which he ties in his own experience of loss with that of Archana Pidathala, whose cookbook Five Morsels of Love is “the product of her unsparing dedication to her grandmother’s dream”.
Daunt Books Publishing, 177pp, £9.99
To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss
The first collection of short fiction from the author of The History of Love and Forest Dark examines what Krauss describes as “the drama of desire”. The title story shifts focus from the narrator’s father to her lover, the “German boxer”; then to a male friend and finally her sons, as she contemplates the moment that they move into manhood and “become capable of violence”. Desire, violence and masculinity twist like a double helix through the book, found in a teenager’s dangerous sexual “game” with an older man and a cancer survivor’s inchoate rage, and framed by Krauss’s elegant prose and searching emotional intelligence.
Bloomsbury, 240pp, £16.99
This article appears in the 21 Oct 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Ten lessons of the pandemic