Books

Books

The lost boy

Poet Simon Armitage has curated a new exhibition for Branwell Brontë’s bicentenary year. Yvette Huddleston reports.

Books
Gwendoline Riley. 

Picture: Adrian Lourie/Writer Pictures

Everybody hurts

This is, in a truly wonderful way, a perfectly horrible little novel. I read it in a kind of perpetual squirm, in a series of flinches and gasps. It is exact and exacting, and has the nasty pleasure of testing an unhealed abrasion. The proof copy came with a quote from Anne Enright, lauding Riley’s capacity to describe the “wasted hinterlands of the human heart”. I think “hinterland” a little weak as regards First Love. “Post-nuclear scorched earth” might have been a better description.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Legends of the fall

Picture the scene: The early evening. The darkened spare room. The middle-aged writer walking across the room to get to a shirt he has laid on the bed. The wide expanse of carpet dotted with the boxes of his own books that the writer has sent off for to sell at his readings because he is vain and he likes to sit at a table surrounded by his grinning image on identical rows of covers. The two important questions that spring immediately to mind. Q: Why did the middle-aged writer not switch the light on? A: He thought the glow from the street light would be enough to see by and he is a thrifty soul. Q: Why did the middle-aged writer not keep his eye on the boxes of books on the floor? A: He could only think of the shirt. He is a man so he cannot multi-task.

Opinion
A Line Made By Walking

Not sick, just lost

‘I’m not sick, just lost,” declares Sara Baume’s character Frankie in an attempt to explain her mental state.

Books
Author Jonathan Lethem.

The unreal deal

Jonathan Lethem is one of the very few contemporary writers whom I think of as required reading for anyone interested in the state of the art; his works also give me almost unalloyed joy. But it is difficult to specify the nature of his genius. Most of his novels combine pop culture with literary theory. He is interested in genre-bending; from the science-fiction take on John Ford’s western The Searchers (Girl in Landscape) to classic bildungsroman with added superpowers (The Fortress of Solitude) to a hard-boiled noir where the detective has Tourette’s (Motherless Brooklyn). He is able to ventriloquise uncannily and yet still be recognisably himself, channelling Philip K Dick (Amnesia Moon), Raymond Chandler (Gun, With Occasional Music) or even giving an indie-pop version of Jane Austen (You Don’t Love Me Yet).

Books
The man who wrote the life story of the world’s greatest lover

The man who wrote the life story of the world’s greatest lover

Northern Ballet’s latest new work, which premieres next month, is based on the life of Casanova. Yvette Huddleston spoke to his biographer Ian Kelly.

Books
Campaign: Labours Harriet Harman is still fighting for parity for women. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Harriet Harman - A warrior in the long battle for Parliamentary equality

Theresa May and the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn are both failing in the fight for equality, Harriet Harman tells Rob Hastings.

Analysis

Restoring Anne Brontë to her rightful place among literary greats

Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte penned Jane Eyre, even their brother Branwell has become infamous for his attempts at poetry and his addictions. But Anne Brontë has always been overshadowed by her siblings. Or at least she has until now.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Common groobly

It was a cold February morning and I was walking to the station in the dark; a breeze was biting at my face and the rain was finding its way into gaps in my clothing I didn’t know were there. It was freezing, and indeed it was more than freezing. Somehow the word “freezing” wasn’t chilly enough. I needed a new and appropriate word, and suddenly one occurred to me: “Frezzing” popped into my head and hung there like an icicle.

Opinion
Storytelling is priceless to a child's education, says headteacher Sarah Weller.

YP Letters: Why fairy stories have powerful life lessons for children

From: Mrs Sarah Weller, Hipperholme Grammar Junior School, Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe, Halifax.

Opinion 1
A Nun's Story

Change of habit: The life of a nun

In what could be termed a lightbulb moment, Shirley Leach read back her own handwriting declaring that she was to become a nun. The wealthy socialite, who could probably have fitted in nicely to the glamorous lives of the Made In Chelsea cast, could scarcely believe herself what was in front of her as she sat down to pen a letter to her fiancé in 1952.

Books
William Nicholson.

Quiet desperation

William Nicholson is a master of the ordinary. This used to be more usual than it is now; one thinks of novelists such as Galsworthy, Cronin, Francis Brett Young and, more recently, William Cooper. But in general today the domestic novel which mirrors or shadows everyday middle-class life has become a female province. Nicholson, however, invades and occupies it, successfully.

Books
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Lost and found

I love it when you come out of the cinema on a spring afternoon and you step from the dark into the bright sunshine and you’re blinking a little bit disorientated and but still, for a few minutes at least, you’re in the film you’ve just been watching. The streets of your Yorkshire town become the streets of Paris and the canal you wander by on the way to the station gleams like the Seine. The man standing in the doorway of a shop reading a newspaper becomes a spy and the woman glancing at you from a passing tram could be the Rom in your Rom-Com if only you could catch her eye before the accordion music gets too loud.

Opinion
A Jane Austen exhibition will mark the 200th anniversary of the author's death

Reader, I rewrote it: Jane Austen’s alternative ending to Persuasion

FOR A writer whose name was scarcely known in her lifetime, it could hardly be a more suitable tribute.

Books
Roger Tiley's pictures of life at Kellingley Colliery

New light on the day darkness fell on Kellingley

As a small army of cameramen and journalists gathered outside Kellingley Colliery to capture the moment Britain’s last deep mine closed for ever, Roger Tiley took himself away from the melee. “I went to my van, shut the door and shed a few tears,” says the South Wales photographer who had spent the previous fortnight capturing the men at work. “I understand why the Press were there. The closure was the story, but it felt quite uncomfortable and I just needed some time on my own.

Analysis
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Why great writing hides much hard graft

Every so often somebody will come to a writing workshop of mine and gush enthusiastically about an idea they’ve had that will make them rich. ‘It’s a story for children’ they’ll say, their eyes sparkling with joy and the prospect of lining their luxury yachts up in their private marina, ‘and I’ve read it to my grandchildren and they love it’ and at this point I hope you’ll forgive my eyes for glazing over.

Opinion
Author Yiyun Li

China fragments

Those of a certain generation will remember the “compare and contrast” exercises we were given in English, and these two books would fit that brief precisely. Xiaolu Guo was on the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list; Yiyun Li featured on its American counterpart. Guo’s book is a memoir with essays; Li’s is essays with a memoiristic bent (the press release indicates that a memoir proper will be published later in the year).

Books
RUGGED LANDSCAPE: Top Withens near Haworth which partly inspired Sophia Tobins new novel.  Picture: bruce rollinson

Past tense

Author Sophia Tobin’s new novel is set in 19th century Yorkshire. She spoke to Yvette Huddleston about what inspired it.

Books
The Vanishing, by Sophia Tobin

A must-read for Jane Eyre fans?

Pitched as a must-read for fans of Jane Eyre, Fingersmith and The Miniaturist, The Vanishing sets itself a high bar.

Books
YP Comment: Books ignite the imagination

YP Comment: Books ignite the imagination

“A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” This assertion by the venerable Leeds playwright, author and man of words Alan Bennett has never been more prescient after it emerged that one in 10 households is now a book-free zone as a result of the digital technology takeover. This soul-destroying statistic offers little comfort to those who believe a love of literature is one of the greatest gifts of all – electronic devices are no substitute whatsoever.

Opinion
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