'I consider myself a poet first and a musician second' 'It ain't the melodies that're important man, it's the words' Two quotes from Dylan himself that underline the importance of this book. Dylanology thrives. There is no shortage of books about him and many of them will be dusted off for his 70th birthday. This one, however, stands on its own both for its unusual approach and for the virtuosity of its execution. Ricks's scheme, aptly, is to examine Dylan's songs through the biblical concepts of the seven deadly Sins, the four Virtues, and the three Heavenly Graces. He carries it off with panache. Ricks may be the most eminent literary critic of his generation but nobody should feel his book is one of earnest, unapproachable exegesis, on the contrary it has a flamboyance, almost effervescence about it that is captivating. Ricks boldly and successfully judges Dylan as a poet not a lyricist and in his tour-de-force makes endless illuminating comparisons with canonical writers such as Eliot, Hardy, Hopkins and Larkin.
When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of "The End of Mr Y" in a bookshop, she can't believe her eyes. She's read about its author before, the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, and this is his most notorious, and rarest, book. It is also believed to hold a curse. Anyone who's ever read it, including Lumas, has disappeared without trace.
In this bestselling book Obama discusses the importance of empathy in politics, his hopes for a different America with different policies, and how the ideals of its democracy can be renewed. With intimacy and self-deprecating humour, Obama describes his experiences as a politician, about balancing his family life and his public vocation. His search for consensus and his respect for the democratic process inform every sentence. A senator and a lawyer, a professor and a father,a Christian and a sceptic, Barack Obama has written a book of transforming power that will inspire people the world over.
Sugar, an alluring, nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs Castaway, yearns for a better life and her ascent through the strata of 1870's London society offers us intimacy with a host of loveable, maddening and superbly realised characters. Gripping from the first page, this immense novel is an intoxicating and deeply satisfying read, not only a wonderful story but the creation of an entire, extraordinary world.
Lanark, a modern vision of hell set in the disintegrating cities of Unthank and Glasgow, tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw. A work of extraordinary, playful imagination, it conveys a profound message, both personal and political, about humankind's inability to love, and yet our compulsion is to go on trying. First published in 1981, Lanark immediately established Gray as one of Britain's leading writers, compared with - among others - Dante, Blake, Joyce, Orwell, Kafka, Huxley and Lewis Carroll. This new edition includes an introduction by William Boyd as well as the author's fascinating addendum, the 'Tailpiece' (2001).
The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the cente of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of men confronted by the darkest of American visions. This book presents an account of casework and an investigation into our culture of violence.
Edited by his children, Giles and Victoria, Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks is an anthology of writing from the former editor of Punch and Radio 4 national treasure Alan Coren, who died in October 2007. In a prolific forty-year career Alan Coren wrote for The Times, Observer, Tatler, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Listener, Punch and the New Yorker, and published over 20 books including The Sanity Inspector, Golfing for Cats and The Collected Bulletins of Idi Amin (he turned down an invitation from Amin to visit Uganda saying, 'I'll probably end up as a sandwich'). Even twenty years ago he estimated that he had published six million words, or ten copies of War and Peace. This anthology draws together the best of Coren's previously published material as well as new unpublished autobiographical material. Coren was one of Britain's most prolific and now much-missed humourists, finding the comedy of life all around him and rendering it, hilariously and compellingly, in polished and witty prose which will be eagerly devoured by his loyal fanbase.
Alice Butler has been receiving some odd messages - all anonymous, all written in code. Are they from someone at PopCo, the profit-hungry corporation she works for? Or from Alice's long lost father? Or has someone else been on her trail? The solution, she is sure, will involve the code-breaking skills she learned from her grandparents and the key she's been wearing round her neck since she was ten. PopCo is a grown-up adventure of family secrets, puzzles, big business and the power of numbers.
Being human isn't easy. We might think that consciousness and free will give us control over our lives but our minds are unpredictable places. We are susceptible to forces we don't understand. We are capable of inflicting immense cruelty on one another and yet we also have the capacity to be tender, to empathise, to feel. In his thought-provoking new book Richard Holloway holds a mirror up to the human condition. By drawing on a colourful and eclectic selection of writings from history, philosophy, science, poetry, theology and literature, Holloway shows us how we can stand up to the seductive power of the monster and draw closer to the fierce challenge of the saint.
'Eunoia', which means 'beautiful thinking', is the shortest word in the English language to contain all five vowels. This book also contains them all, but never at the same time. Each of Eunoia's five chapters is univocalic: that is, each chapter uses only one vowel. A triumphant feat, seven years in the making, this uncanny work of avant-garde literature is one of the most surprising and awe-inspiring books of the year. A challenging feat of composition and technical skill, Bök has worked this into a series of compelling narratives and rhythms.
Deft and lyrical, this paperback edition of Michel Faber's collection of stories is his first since his auspicious debut, Some Rain Must Fall. It has sealed his reputation as one of Britain's most daring and original authors. Acclaimed for his pitch-perfect prose and brilliant characterisation, Faber is also celebrated for his mastery of contrasting styles. From achingly sad lost lives, through moments of exquisitely distilled happiness, to biblical innocence and savagery, Faber's characters are redeemed, abandoned, beloved and laid bare. From the achingly sad lost lives of 'The Safehouse' through moments of exquisitely distilled happiness in 'Vanilla-Bright Like Eminem' to the biblical innocence and savagery of 'The Fahrenheit Twins', we are redeemed, abandoned, beloved and laid bare but we are always recognisable.
Sian, tired of nightmares in which she meets a grisly end, decides she needs to get out more, so she joins an archaeological dig at Whitby Abbey. What she finds is a mystery involving a long-hidden murder, a man with big hands, a fragile manuscript in a bottle, and a rather attractive dog called Hadrian. Faber's dazzling novella takes us up the 199 steps in Whitby that link the 21st century with the ruins of the past. Equal and indissoluble parts thriller, romance, historical/ghost story and meditation on the nature of sincerity, this is an ingenious literary page-turner. Atmospheric photographs complement the text beautifully. This book, like Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, deploys a masterful sense of ambiguity, outstanding narrative power, works on many levels and, as always with Faber's writing, is elegant, thought-provoking, distinctive and compelling.
Michel Faber's first collection of short stories reveals an extraordinarily vivid imagination, a deep love of language and an adventurous versatility. Playful, yet profoundly moving, wickedly satirical yet sincerely humane, these tales never fail to strike unexpected chords. The title story, 'Some Rain Must Fall' (winner of the 1998 Ian St James Award), juxtaposes the tragic circumstances of traumatised schoolchildren with the interior monologue of a teacher/psychologist enlisted to aid their recovery. In the pseudo-sci-fi 'Fish' (winner of the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday competition in 1996) a mother tries to protect her child in a terrifying world where fish swim through the streets and lurk in alleyways. Faber has an exciting talent, rich and assured, with a dazzling reach. Some Rain Must Fall is one of the most engaging debuts for years and is refreshingly different from anything else you are likely to read this year.
A dazzling, emotionally riveting debut collection: the seven stories in Nam Le's The Boat take us across the globe as he enters the hearts and minds of characters from all over the world. Whether Nam Le is conjuring the story of 14-year-old Juan, a hit man in Colombia; or an aging painter mourning the death of his much-younger lover; or a young refugee fleeing Vietnam, crammed in the ship's hold with 200 others, the result is unexpectedly moving and powerful. This is an extraordinary work of fiction that takes us to the heart of what it means to be human, and announces a writer of astonishing talent.
Snowblind is the true story of Zachary Swan, an American smuggler, whose intricate and ingenious scams made him one of the most revered and legendary figures in the cocaine world of the late Sixties and Seventies. For a few breathless years he ran rings around the police and customs officials. From New York to Colombia, Swan enthusiastically plied his trade. Robert Sabbag's riveting account of Swan's brief career provides a compulsive insight into the cocaine underworld in which all the double-dealing, crazy characters and over-the-shoulder paranoia are captured brilliantly. The result is one of the funniest and most illuminating books about drugs ever written ... a genuine underground classic. This new edition is published as a companion to Robert Sabbag's blockbusting new book on pioneer marijuana smuggler Alan Long, Smokescreen, and comes with a specially commissioned introduction by another legendary smuggler: Howard Marks, aka Mr Nice.
Introduced by Clarissa Dickson Wright.
Scottish cuisine reflects both the richness of the country's resources and the frugality often imposed on its inhabitants. From the ninth century to the present, from the simplicity of porridge and oatcakes to the gourmet delights of fish and game, this is a fascinating history of Scotland, complete with Annette Hope's personal collection of authentic recipes.
A Caledonian Feast is widely acknowledged to be the definitive culinary history of Scotland. Immensely readable and informative, it draws upon many strands of Scotland's literary heritage including works by Scott, Boswell, Smollett and Hogg as well as agriculturalists, social historians and specialist food writers like Marian McNeill. This new edition includes a superb introduction from the inimitable Clarissa Dickson Wright.
'A definitive social history into Scotland's food and cookery.' Irish Times 'Exceptionally wide-ranging, well-organised and nicely put.' Sunday Times 'Excellent reading . . . a revelation to anyone who believes Scottish gastronomy is all oatmeal and herring. Recipes, sociology, history and anecdote are woven into a plaid of pleasure.' Derek Cooper, The Listener 'A joy to read.' Sunday Telegraph
Introduced by Will Self.
An unforgettably challenging book about power and powerlessness, men and women, masters and servants, small countries and big countries, Alasdair Gray's exploration of the politics of pornography has lost none of its power to shock. 1982, Janine is a searing portrait of male need and inadequacy, as explored via the lonely sexual fantasies of Jock McLeish, failed husband, lover and businessman. Yet there is hope here, too, and the humour, imaginative and textual energy of the narrative achieves its own kind of redemption in the end.
'A great writer, perhaps the greatest living in Britain today.' Will Self '1982, Janine has a verbal energy, an intensity of vision that has mostly been missing from the English novel since D.H. Lawrence.' New York Times 'Made me realise that contemporary fiction would still be a vivid and vital way of interpreting the world . . . 1982, Janine revived my flagging impetus to continue writing myself.' Jonathan Coe 'Alasdair Gray is that rather rare bird among contemporary British writers-'a genuine experimentalist . . . The influence of James Joyce, and . . . Laurence Stern, is very evident, but Gray does not seem merely derivative from these masters. He is very much his own man.' David Lodge
Edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
The Canongate Burns is the most comprehensive and challenging edition of the poems and songs of Robert Burns ever published. Drawing on extensive scholarship and the poet's own inimitable letters, this definitive edition offers a wealth of information on Burns's life and times, the hardship of his early days, his political beliefs, his hatred of injustice and his fate as a writer too often sentimentalised by biographers, critics and well-meaning enthusiasts.
The poems are presented in the order of their first appearance, giving further insights into the reception of Burns's work and the guarded relationship he had both with his readers and his own fame. We see Burns as a radical figure in a British as well as a Scottish context, the peer of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Byron in the revolutionary and repressive world of the 1790s.
With its inclusion of recently attributed poems, explanatory notes and extensive Scots glosses, The Canongate Burns offers vitally fresh insights into the irreverent spirit and the democratic convictions which illuminate the work of Scotland's most famous poet.
'A magnificent and definitive work of scholarship. A thousand pages long, it provides not only a glossary and a context for the poems, but also a textual and historical note for each poem and song.' Colm Toibin, Independent 'A very fine edition, and the long introduction, which sets out to clear the tangled banks, is alone worththe cover price.' Andrew O'Hagan, Scotsman 'Scholarly and comprehensive.' Sunday Telegraph
Edited and introduced by Tom Crawford.
'It would be impossible to overestimate Lewis Grassic Gibbon's importance . . . A Scots Quair is a landmark work; it permeates the Scottish literary consciousness and colours all subsequent writing of its kind.' David Kerr Cameron Chris Guthrie, torn between her love of the land and her desire to escape the narrow horizons of a peasant culture, is the thread that links these three works. In them, Gibbon interweaves the personal joys and sorrows of Chris' life with the greater historical and political events of the time.
Sunset Song, the first and most celebrated book of the trilogy, covers the early years of the twentieth century, including the First World War. Chris survives, with her son Ewan, but the tragedy has struck and her wild spirit subdued. In Cloud Howe, as the minister's wife, Chris learns to love again, and we witness the cruel gossip and high comedy of small village life until, once again, Chris suffers a terrible loss. Grey Granite focuses on her son Ewan and his passionate involvement with justice for the common man.
For Chris, with her intuitive strength, nothing lasts - only the land endures.
'Gibbon's style is one of the great achievements of the trilogy and should be seen in relation to Scottish forerunners like John Galt as well as in the context of modernist innovators such as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and William Faulkner.' Tom Crawford
Cristiano is sixteen. Home life is far from perfect, and when his drink-sozzled father and two reprobate friends come up with a plan to rob a bank, Cristiano sees the chance of a better life. But as a tremendous storm brews that night, the perfect crime will have shocking consequences for all involved. And Cristiano must put childhood behind him once and for all. The utterly absorbing novel has pace, plot twists and glorious characters. An epic drama of innocence and delusion, The Crossroads is Ammaniti's most engaging novel yet.