Last night I finished reading the excellent One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie. I now have to make a tough decision: which book to read next? The notion of choosing is problematic, however. I don't want to read the books I have chosen to read: I want to read the books that have allowed me no say in the matter – seized me from the first page and released me only after the last full stop. Reading is the only area of my life in which I prefer to be non-autonomous. Ruth Rendell, one of my crime fiction heroes, once said that a novel should grip from the first line, and when I write my psychological thrillers this is exactly what I aim for. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to discover many books that have gripped me into total submission. Here, in equal first place, are 10 of them: See Jane Run by Joy Fielding A flawless psychological thriller, and the book that made me fall in love with psychological crime fiction. A woman finds herself in a shop wearing nothing but … [Read more...] about Sophie Hannah’s top 10 pageturners
More than 150 years ago, Charles Baudelaire scrawled an extra verse of his erotic poem The Jewels into a copy of his landmark collection Les Fleurs du Mal. The stanza has never been made public, with the book’s previous owner wanting to keep it private, but ahead of its auction next week, the lines have been revealed to the world. The Jewels was one of six Baudelaire poems banned by a French court in 1857, less than two months after Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) was published, and the poet and his publisher prosecuted for offence to public decency. The court ruled that the erotic verses – beginning “La très chère était nue”, or “My darling was naked” – would “necessarily lead to the excitement of the senses by a crude realism offensive to public decency”. The conviction was only overturned in 1949. Baudelaire wrote the additional verse into a first edition of the book, sending it to his friend, the … [Read more...] about Baudelaire’s unknown extra verse to erotic poem revealed
When I sat down in a cinema to watch Emir Kusturica’s documentary about Diego Maradona a decade or so ago, I still thought of myself as a Pelé man. The Brazilian was the footballer who had dominated my adolescence, which is usually the time of life at which we acquire the heroes to whom we remain in thrall. Kusturica’s film made me reconsider that loyalty. He made me think that those who believed Maradona was the greatest footballer of all time might have a point. It was a mad film about a mad life, starting with a quote from Jorge Luis Borges and finishing with a song from Manu Chao. There was a lot of weird stuff in between. But the Serbian director also included enough football to persuade me that Maradona bent matches to his will in the way no one had done before, and that if we were trying to decide on the very greatest, a stupid but fun thing to do, then this might be the truest measure. Asif Kapadia’s new film about Maradona, which opened last week, makes … [Read more...] about Maradona film reminds that untameables were not always untouchable
In the 00s, you couldn’t move for novelty songs, from Bob The Builder’s No 1 smash Can We Fix It? to the three (three!) full-length albums released by Crazy Frog – who, incidentally, qualifies as an early internet meme. This decade, on the other hand, has been relatively lax when it comes to pumping out neuron-destroying musical inanity. But, after a Harlem Shake-shaped false start, the age of novelty song 2.0 might be upon us – only this time the cheap, attention-grabbing trick lies not in the song itself, but in the meme it generates. This month, rap group Migos topped the US Billboard chart with Bad And Boujee, their trap collaboration with rapper Lil Uzi Vert. This was partially thanks to the publicity generated by an extremely hyperbolic endorsement by Donald Glover (he called them “The Beatles of this generation”, which itself was a reference to an old meme that compared Migos to the Fab Four), but the fact the song had produced a popular meme … [Read more...] about Is Migos’ Bad And Boujee the new mannequin challenge?
‘Let me see… Luke Cage. I’m looking down my phone…” Mahershala Ali sounds deep in concentration on the other end of the line. “OK, so Danger Zone by Big L. Uh, Fly Girl Get ’Em, BJ The Chicago Kid; EPMD, Strictly Business; Erykah Badu, Soldier; Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Deeper; Thuggin’… ” Ali is going through one of his playlists. He makes one for every character, he explains. “Music that he would respond to, music that reflects the world he’s living in, things he would have listened to growing up or whatnot.” He’ll play them in his trailer or driving to the set. “They help focus me very quickly, almost like a meditation. It especially helps if you’re working on a couple of things.” Ali has been working on “a couple of things” pretty much all the time lately, which means a lot of playlists. After minor roles in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and The Hunger Games, the … [Read more...] about From House Of Cards to Moonlight, why Mahershala Ali is having a moment