Coming of Age

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Surely even the literary world’s most sagacious commentators couldn’t have anticipated a Booker Prize shortlist quite like the one we have this year: six books, four of them debuts and, for good or ill, only one written by a UK citizen. That book is Shuggie Bain, the gritty first novel by Scottish-American author Douglas Stuart. […]

Missing Links

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

When I was five years old, my oldest half-brother came one evening to say goodnight. With him was the most beautiful person I have ever seen. She leaned over my bed to kiss me and said ‘Shane and I are going to get married’. I decided at once she was a princess and asked if […]

With Sensitivity

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

I have not watched a single screen second of the BBC’s adaptation of Tender is the Night and have not the slightest intention of ever doing so. Nor, if you are half the reader I take you for, will you. I understand from some friends that the piece is, in fact, excellently done: beautifully filmed, […]

Discretion, C’est Tout

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Political wives and husbands do not have an enviable lot, and Prime Ministers’ consorts are no exception. Theirs is a thankless task – whether they forget their own identity and faithfully support their spouse as the other half, or try and retain a semblance of independence by doing their own thing. Either way it’s a […]

Written in Blood

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Edward Brooke-Hitching’s The Madman’s Library begins with a question. ‘Which books’, he wonders, ‘would inhabit the shelves of the greatest library of literary curiosities, put together by a collector unhindered by space, time and budget?’ It’s a rather flimsy peg on which to hang this ragbag of bibliographical oddities, but no matter. There are enough […]

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