The Current Issue

April 2024, Issue 528 Richard Williams on Miles Davis * Deborah Levy on David Bowie * Jon Savage on Pulp * Mark Blacklock on doomsday lit * John Keay on Orkney * Charlie Campbell on The Blues Brothers * Suzannah Lipscomb on Tudor queens * Malachi on O'Doherty on IRA supergrasses * Lucy Moore on revolutionary dress * Sophie Oliver on fashion & feminism * Susan Owens on rural Woolf *  Alan Ryan on America's love of dictators * Rosa Lyster on creative non-fiction * Deirdre Nansen McCloskey on Joseph Stiglitz * Sarah Dunant on democracy * Oliver Soden on cats * James Campbell on Percival Everett * Stevie Davies on David Nicholls *  and much, much more…

Deborah Levy

Lady Stardust

Earth was dying. We had five years left to live. Ziggy Stardust, the bisexual alien rock star, was sent from another planet to grey, binary 1970s Britain to give us a message of hope. I’m not sure about the hope part of the message, but he really turned us on. Apparently, Ziggy was a fictional character. We knew that, but we didn’t want to know it. It’s not like we were in the mood for critical thinking as we set about freeing our secret freakish selves. Bowie understood the power and point of enigma, right to the end of his life. Narrative needs to be porous so that we can fill it with our own yearnings, desires, imaginations. It’s still hard to accept that Ziggy didn’t fall from the stars in full makeup to blow our minds. Yes, other people helped create him. One of them was Suzi Ronson... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Lucy Moore

Liberty Equality Fashion: The Women Who Styled the French Revolution

By Anne Higonnet

After they were released from prison in Paris in the late autumn of 1794, both having narrowly escaped the guillotine, new bosom friends Rose de Beauharnais and Térézia Tallien found they had nothing to wear. Dressmakers and milliners had all but disappeared from a city still reeling from the Reign of Terror. In an era of desperate need and rampant inflation, a time when even the most prosperous took candles and... read more

John Keay

Storm’s Edge: Life, Death and Magic in the Islands of Orkney

By Peter Marshall

From St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, a lane once led through fields up to a small patch of grass. In the centre of this green, where formerly stood a stake, there is now a stone slab engraved: ‘in memory of those accused of witchcraft’. Convicted at trials held in the cathedral, the condemned were marched up the lane with hands bound, lashed to the stake and then ‘wyrried’ – that is strangled to death by the public executioner – and burned to ash... read more

Mark Blacklock

Everything Must Go: The Stories We Tell About the End of the World

By Dorian Lynskey

The end of the world is in the air. Should we be surprised? The climate emergency claws at every aspect of our lives, from holidays to the cost of food. We’ve just lived through a global pandemic. War in Europe continues, while the UN describes a genocide emerging in Gaza. The news is not good. Culture responds. Dorian Lynskey highlights some recent touchstones at the start of his capacious survey of apocalyptic... read more

Charlie Campbell

The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic

By Daniel de Visé

The pages of my copy of The Blues Brothers started to fall out as I was reading it, just as John Belushi entered the story. It was perhaps fitting, since his considerable talents were matched by a gift for self-destruction. Belushi was at the front of a wave of talented actors and comedians who announced themselves to America on NBC’s Saturday Night, which then... read more

James Womack

Until August

By Gabriel García Márquez (Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean)

The billing of Until August as Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘dementia novel’ is a simplification. Although García Márquez’s last years were marked by a falling away of his powers, and his brother confirmed a diagnosis of dementia in 2012, the manuscript was largely finished by 2004. An earlier version of the story, in a translation by Edith Grossman rather than Anne McLean, appeared in the New Yorker in 1999... read more

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