In motor Racing, Adrain Newey's name ranks among the greats. He is not one for the cameras of a race weekend, but his autobiography is wonderfully engaging, funny and honest. From building Lotus kit cars with his dad through to 10 World Championships with three teams, Newey's tale is fascinating. He takes us through the highs and terrible lows of his life and career, framing it all against the cars we have watched going round in circles for all these years. How to Build a Car is essential reading for any racing fan.
Nick Harkaway's latest novel crosses thousands of years and yet never leaves the mind of the victim at the centre of his tale. With Gnomon, Harkaway looks at our world and the issues we face from oblique angles, in turn making us look at our own path from eyes we may not have considered or have even wanted too. Gnomon is a masterful tale.
America City, Chris Beckett's first novel since leaving Eden, is a fantastic look at how the information we receive affects our decisions. We believe we are smart enough to know what is going on, but are we? In a wonderfully complex work of speculative fiction, Beckett's ambitious America City crafts a world as deep as Eden and yet as relatable as now.
Takashi Mikke's 100th film arrives with a flurry of blades, bloodworms and vengeance. Blade of the Immortal is Miike’s 3rd chanbara (“sword fighting) film and is based on the long running manga by Hiroaki Samura. Miike’s take on the source material is frenetic, fascinating and wonderful, truly befitting his century of films.
With A Legacy of Spies, John le Carre returns to the scene of the novel that put him on the map. While the much publicised return of George Smiley is making the headlines, the story is set upon the shoulders, in my opinion, of one of his most interesting characters, Smiley’s right hand, Peter Guillam.
September 1938. The world teeters on the brink of another war. Hitler is eyeing the Sudetenland and is hours away from mobilisation. In London, Chamberlain is doing everything to keep the piece. A summit is arranged in Munich and two men travel there with plans of their own in Robert Harris' fantastic latest novel.
An interwoven tale set 550 years apart, Jane Johnson's novel tells the tales of Kate, a woman hiding from torment at home, and Blessing living in the final days of the Emirate of Granada who creates a torment of his own. Johnson has crafted a superior tale that grabs you from the off.
Clare Mulley's new biography looks at two incredible, yet very different women who were pinoneering Test Pilots for the Third Reich. In The Women Who Flew For Hitler, Mulley looks at what drove these women in a male dominated flying world and the very different directions they chose under a Nazi flag.
Heroic failure is something that Britain has always done well. With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has crafted an incredible film about an incredible event. With that as his setting, Nolan may have made his best movie yet.
The men and women who resisted Hitler have been cast as heroes and villains of both the left and right. The conspirators and their actions have been remembered in black and white, with the viewer choosing the colours with which to paint them. In Danny Orbach’s new history of the resistance, The Plots Against Hitler, he very convincingly shows us that rather than pure saints or sinners, the complexity and contradictions of the conspirators makes them that most difficult of things to digest, human.
America City by Chris Beckett, set on an environmentally challenged Earth a 100 years hence, is speculative fiction at the highest level and rather uncomfortable reading. To celebrate it's release and that it has been chosen as Simon Mayo's choice for the next Radio 2 Book Club, I am giving away a signed copy. Full details in the post.
Rarely does adaptation work well. Most of the time you hope for the best and accept OK. With Hap and Leonard though, Joe R Lansdale's novels live and breathe on the small screen. This is a look at how that transfer works so well, from the eyes of a fan on a couch in leafy Surrey, a long way away from East Texas.
Clare Mulley's latest book, The Women Who Flew For Hitler, is a fascinating look at two remarkable and complicated women, Melitta von Stauffenberg and Hanna Reitch. As test pilots for the Third Reich, they were at the forefront of aviation and tumultuous times. The book is an intimate and honest biography and Clare has kindly taken some time to answer a few of my questions about it.
With the welcome announcement of Bond 25, I default into worry at where we stand with our current Bond run. Daniel Craig, should he return, deserves a great Bond send off. But the corner EON has painted themselves into post SPECTRE means the wicket is rather sticky.
Finally get around to getting to Paris, on my final day in the City of Lights, I ventured to The Louvre. Surrounded by incredible art and yet heart broken at how it was displayed, I found myself with an odd feeling to go with my old friend disapointment, a strong desire to return. If only to say hello onc again to La Bella Nani.
A love letter to the finest TV Show on air at the moment, Hap and Leonard. No spoilers contained within, just an attempt to spread the joy of proper television and two towering performances from Michael Keneth Williams and James Purefoy.
With the recent publication of Daughter of Eden, 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Chris Beckett completed his trilogy of novels set on the sunless planet Eden and the The Family that inhabits it. The trilogy is wonderful and to celebrate the novels, Chris very kindly put up with me and answered my Eden related questions. I hope you enjoy our chat.
Looking back at one of my favourite actresses in film history, Gene Tierney and one of her finest perfomances in Leave Her to Heaven.
Robert Harris' new book Conclave is out now. Having visited the Henley Literary Festival and meeting up with Robert, amidst 300 others, I have a spare copy to give away. See the post for details and a recording of the conversation Robert Harris had with Paul Greengrass. Yes, THAT Paul Greengrass, who was a delight.
In this new, reasonably regular, series, we’re going to look at some of the photographs that have affected me over the years. The old adage “A picture paints/is worth a thousand words” is going to be our dictum. Over the course of a thousand words, we’ll tell the story of the image, the photographer and the subject and try to add a bit of depth to the image. The first is Sharon Tate by Terry O'Neill