ABBEY'S CHOICE OCTOBER 2016
----- Since her death in 1992, at the age of just fifty-one, Angela Carter has been widely acknowledged as one of the most important English writers of the last century. Her work stands out for its bawdiness and linguistic zest, its hospitality to the fantastical and the absurd, and its extraordinary inventiveness and range. Her life was as rich with incident, as vigorously modern, as unconventional, and ultimately as tragic as anything in her fiction.
This is the story of how she invented herself - as a new kind of woman and a new kind of writer - and how she came to write such subversive, seductive and distinctive masterworks as The Bloody Chamber, Nights at the Circus and Wise Children.
Meticulously researched - facilitated by interviews with Carter's family and friends, as well as unrestricted access to her manuscripts and journals - and artfully constructed, this is literary biography at its very best.
Edmund Gordon uncovers a wealth of new details about the life of this extraordinary writer, and skilfully captures the remarkable personality that left an indelible mark on English fiction.
ABBEY'S CHOICE OCTOBER 2016
----- When Nina's mother Hanna was just twenty years old, she escaped to West Germany with nothing more than a small satchel and the clothes on her back. It was the dawn of the Cold War. Hanna left her parents, siblings and everything she had ever known behind.
Forty Autumns traces the dramatic lives of the family on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Hanna eventually moved to America where she gave birth to Nina and her brother. Years after Hanna's brave escape to the West, Nina found herself working as an Army Intelligence officer in Berlin, leading secret operations just miles away from the family her mother left behind all those years ago.
Rich in drama and beautifully evocative, Nina takes us deep into the tumultuous and stifling world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer. Forty Autumns is an incredible story that perfectly captures what it was like to live in a world divided in two.
The phenomenal Number One bestseller about best friends James and Bob. Now a major motion picture starring Luke Treadaway. When James Bowen found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet. Yet James couldn't resist helping the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas. Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other's troubled pasts. A Street Cat Named Bob is a moving and uplifting story that will touch the heart of anyone who reads it.
THE ODDITORIUM is a playful re-telling of history, told not through the lens of its victors, but through the fascinating stories of a wealth of individuals who, while lesser-known, are no less remarkable.
Throughout its pages you'll learn about the antics and adventures of tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors. While their stories range from heroic failures to great hoaxes, one thing unites them - they all carved their own path through life. Each protagonist exemplifies the human spirit through their dogged determination, willingness to take risks, their unflinching obsession and, often, a good dollop of eccentricity.
Learn about Reginald Bray (1879-1939), a Victorian accountant who sent over 30,000 singular objects through the mail, including himself; Cyril Hoskin (1910-1981), a Cornish plumber who reinvented himself as a Tibetan lama and went on to sell over a million books; and Elaine Morgan (1920-2013), a journalist who battled a tirade of prejudice to pursue an aquatic-based theory of human evolution, which is today being championed by David Attenborough.
Elsewhere, we uncover the lesser-known obsessions of such historical giants as Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726), whose beloved alchemy led to a lifetime's search for the philosopher's stone and elixir of life; and philosopher Ren Descartes (1596-1650), whose obsession with cross-eyed ladies led him to seek a 'cure' through the first recorded case of CBT.
While many of us are content to lead a conventional life, with all of its comfort and security, THE ODDITORIUM reminds us of the characters who felt compelled to carve their own path, despite risking ostracism, failure, ridicule and madness. While history wouldn't be the same without the likes of Shakespeare, Caesar and Einstein, it is when curiosity and compulsion meet that conventions are challenged, culture is re-invigorated and we find new ways to understand ourselves and the world around us.
Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014) wrote brilliant novels about what love can do to people, but in her own life the lasting relationship she sought so ardently always eluded her. She grew up yearning to be an actress; but when that ambition was thwarted by marriage and the war, she turned to fiction. Her first novel, THE BEAUTIFUL VISIT, won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize - she went on to write fourteen more, of which the best-loved were the five volumes of THE CAZALET CHRONICLE.
Following her divorce from her first husband, the celebrated naturalist Peter Scott, Jane embarked on a string of high-profile affairs with Cecil Day-Lewis, Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee, which turned her into a literary femme fatale. Yet the image of a sophisticated woman hid a romantic innocence which clouded her emotional judgement. She was nearing the end of a disastrous second marriage when she met Kingsley Amis, and for a few years they were a brilliant and glamorous couple - until that marriage too disintegrated. She settled in Suffolk where she wrote and entertained friends, but her turbulent love life was not over yet. In her early seventies Jane fell for a conman. His unmasking was the final disillusion, and inspired one of her most powerful novels, FALLING.
Artemis Cooper interviewed Jane several times in Suffolk. She also talked extensively to her family, friends and contemporaries, and had access to all her papers. Her biography explores a woman trying to make sense of her life through her writing, as well as illuminating the literary world in which she lived.
This is the story of two flawed eccentrics. Everything they do subverts their firm intention of keeping up appearances. They meet just after the war in liberated Paris, but cannot quite free themselves from the many strings attached to them - the old aunts, the sisters, the cousins, the nuns and the ominous concierges who dog their footsteps.
Alexandre is a banker and a Resistant and lives in a world of numbers and Roman emperors. Poum resides in the Odyssey and in her bed, hiding from the mysterious disapproval of their relatives, for they both seem to persist in some irreparable faux pas which has them wading through a lifetime pickle.
Their daughter Catherine would like to help, but she seems to be part of the problem. This is no ordinary childhood and Catherine de Saint Phalle’s acceptance of her parents, despite their flaws, shines through, propelling us head-first into their strange, yet beautiful, Parisian world.
Poum and Alexandre is a searingly honest, humorous and moving elegy to family and place, and a meditation on the way thesethings ultimately define us.
Handsome, spirited and erudite, Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and one the greatest travel writers of his generation. He was also a spectacularly gifted friend.
The letters in this collection span almost seventy years, the first written ten days before Paddy's twenty-fifth birthday, the last when he was ninety-four. His correspondents include Deborah Devonshire, Ann Fleming, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper and his lifelong companion, Joan Rayner; he wrote his first letter to her in his cell at the monastery Saint Wandrille, the setting for his reflections on monastic life in A Time To Keep Silence. His letters exhibit many of his most engaging characteristics: his zest for life, his unending curiosity, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of language, his exuberance and his tendency to get into scrapes - particularly when drinking and, quite separately, driving.
Here are plenty of extraordinary stories: the hunt for Byron's slippers in one of the remotest regions of Greece; an ignominious dismissal from Somerset Maugham's Villa Mauresque; hiding behind a bush to dub Dirk Bogarde into Greek during the shooting of Ill Met by Moonlight, the film based on the story of General Kreipe's abduction; his extensive travels. Some letters contain glimpses of the great and the good, while others are included purely for the joy of the jokes.
As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his 19th-century world, before 20th-century inventions transformed him into Communism’s patriarch and fierce lawgiver.
Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and new notions about God, human capacities, empires, political systems and, above all, the shape of the future.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, a Europe-wide argument began about the industrial transformation of England, the Revolution in France, and the hopes and fears generated by these occurrences. Would the coming age belong to those enthralled by the revolutionary events and ideas that had brought this world into being, or would its inheritors be those who feared and loathed it?
Stedman Jones gives weight not only to Marx’s views, but to the views of those with whom he contended. He shows that Marx was as buffeted as anyone else living through a period that both confirmed and confounded his interpretations, and that ultimately left him with terrible intimations of failure.
Karl Marx allows the reader to understand Marx’s milieu and development, and makes sense of the devastating impact of new ways of seeing the world conjured up by Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Ricardo, Saint-Simon and others. We come to understand how Marx transformed and adapted their philosophies into ideas that would have - through twists and turns inconceivable to him - an overwhelming impact across the globe in the 20th century.
Language is always changing. No one knows where it is going, but the best way to future-cast is to look at the past.
John Simpson animates for us a tradition of researching and editing, showing us both the technical lexicography needed to understand a word, and the careful poetry needed to construct its definition.
He challenges both the idea that dictionaries are definitive, and the notion that language is falling apart. With a sense of humour, an ability to laugh at bureaucracy and an inclination to question the status quo, he gives life to the colourful characters behind the Oxford English Dictionary and the English language itself.
He splices his stories with entertaining and erudite diversions into the history and origin of words such as kangaroo, hot-dog, pommie and bicycle… not ignoring swear words often classed as 'Anglo-Saxon'!
The eldest was a razor-sharp novelist of upper-class manners; the second was loved by John Betjeman; the third was a fascist who married Oswald Mosley; the fourth idolized Hitler and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany; the fifth was a member of the American Communist Party; the sixth became Duchess of Devonshire. They were the Mitford sisters: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah. Born into country-house privilege in the early years of the 20th century, they became prominent as 'bright young things' in the high society of interwar London. Then, as the shadows crept over 1930s Europe, the stark - and very public - differences in their outlooks came to symbolize the political polarities of a dangerous decade. The intertwined stories of their stylish and scandalous lives - recounted in masterly fashion by Laura Thompson - hold up a revelatory mirror to upper-class English life before and after WWII.
Described as 'the European Pele', Johan Cruyff is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history. Throughout his playing career, he was synonymous with Total Football, a style of play in which every player could play in any position on the pitch. Today, his philosophy lives on in teams across Europe, from Barcelona to Bayern Munich and players from Lionel Messi to Cesc Fabrecas.
My Turn tells the story of Cruyff's life starting at Ajax, where he won eight national titles and three European Cups before moving to Barcelona where he won La Liga in his first season, in 1973, and was named European Footballer of the Year. He won the Ballon d'Or three times, and led the Dutch national team to the final of the 1974 World Cup, famously losing to West Germany, and receiving the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament.
While on the field Cruyff was in total control, off the field his life was more turbulent with a kidnapping attempt and bankruptcy. After retiring in 1984, he became a hugely successful manager of Ajax and then Barcelona when he won the Champions league with a young Pep Guardiola in his team. In 1999 Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century, and came second behind Pelé in the World Player of the Century poll.
In March 2016 Cruyff died after a short battle with lung cancer bringing world football to a standstill in an outpouring of emotions. A brilliant teacher and analyst of the game he loved, My Turn is Johan Cruyff's legacy.
A lavishly illustrated, envelope-pushing life bible from Sophia Amoruso, bestselling author of #GIRLBOSS and founder of NastyGal. Nasty Galaxy is part scrapbook, part inspo-journey - and 100% #GIRLBOSS. Filled with illustrations, photos and short essays that embody the style and spirit of the NastyGal brand, it is both a vivid visual compendium of Sophia Amoruso's influences and the perfect life bible for girlbosses everywhere. Featuring a foreword by Courtney Love, and with unique insights and inspiration from the baddest bitches across the globe, Nasty Galaxy approaches style, philosophy and advice in the same way #GIRLBOSS approached business: by turning it on its head. Warning: this is not a style book. It's not about how to mix prints - it's about how to leave yours on everything you touch.
2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the crazy closet-with predictable results-the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies-an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades-the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller.
Jean-Paul Sartre is an undisputed giant of twentieth-century philosophy. His intellectual writings popularizing existentialism combined with his creative and artistic flair have made him a legend of French thought. His tumultuous personal life - so inextricably bound up with his philosophical thinking - is a fascinating tale of love and lust, drug abuse, high profile fallings-out and political and cultural rebellion.
This substantial and meticulously researched biography is accessible, fast-paced, often amusing and at times deeply moving. Existentialism and Excess covers all the main events of Sartre's remarkable seventy-five-year life from his early years as a precocious brat devouring his grandfather's library, through his time as a brilliant student in Paris, his wilderness years as a provincial teacher-writer experimenting with mescaline, his World War II adventures as a POW and member of the resistance, his post-war politicization, his immense amphetamine fueled feats of writing productivity, his harem of women, his many travels and his final decline into blindness and old age.
Along the way there are countless intriguing anecdotes, some amusing, some tragic, some controversial: his loathing of crustaceans and his belief that he was being pursued by a giant lobster, his escape from a POW camp, the bombing of his apartment, his influence on the May 1968 uprising and his many love affairs. Cox deftly moves from these episodes to discussing his intellectual development, his famous feuds with Aron, Camus, and Merleau-Ponty, his encounters with other giant figures of his day: Roosevelt, Hemingway, Heidegger, John Huston, Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, Khrushchev and Tito, and, above all, his long, complex and creative relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.
Existentialism and Excess also gives serious consideration to Sartre's ideas and many philosophical works, novels, stories, plays and biographies, revealing their intimate connection with his personal life. Cox has written an entertaining, thought-provoking and compulsive book, much like the man himself.
Phiona Mutesi sleeps in a mud hut with her mother and siblings, and struggles to find a meal each day. She is also one of the best chess players in the world. One day in 2005, while searching for food, nine-year-old Phiona followed her brother to a dusty verandah where she met Robert Katende, a refugee who had also grown up in the slums. Robert had an improbable aspiration- to empower Katwe's kids through chess - a game so foreign that there was no word for it in their native language. Robert taught the game each day. At first the children came for the free porridge, but many grew to love chess, a game that - as in their daily lives - meant navigating obstacles. One talented young girl stood out- Phiona. By the age of 11, Phiona was Uganda's junior champion; at 15, she was the national champion. In 2010, she travelled to Siberia to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world's most prestigious team-chess event. Phiona's dream is to become a chess grandmaster. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with life in one of the world's most unstable countries - a place where girls are taught to be mothers, not dreamers, and the threats of AIDS, kidnapping, and starvation loom constantly. Like Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, this is an intimate and heartrending portrait of human life on the urban fringes in the 21st century.
Beatrix Potter is one of the world's bestselling, most cherished authors, whose books have enchanted generations of children for over a hundred years. Yet how she achieved this legendary status is just one of several stories of Beatrix Potter's remarkable and unexpected life. Inspired by the twenty-three 'tales', Matthew Dennison takes a selection of quotations from Potter's stories and uses them to explore her multi-faceted life and character: repressed Victorian daughter; thwarted lover; artistic genius; formidable countrywoman. They chart her transformation from a young girl with a love of animals and fairy tales into a bestselling author and canny businesswoman, so deeply unusual for the Victorian era in which she grew up. Embellished with photographs of Potter's life and her own illustrations, this short biography will delight anyone who has been touched by Beatrix Potter's work.
James Cameron admired Martha Gellhorn above all other war-reporters 'because she combined a cold eye with a warm heart'. The Chicago Times described her writing as 'wide ranging and provocative, a blend of cool lyricism and fiery emotion, alternately prickly and welcoming, funny and stern'. But make your own judgements, and in the process find yourself plunged straight back into Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, feel the frozen ground of the Finno Russian war, the continent-wide Japanese invasion of China, the massacres in Java, the murderously naive intervention in Vietnam and the USA's dirty little wars in Central America. You will also experience the process of the Second World War by the seat of your pants. It is a tough way to learn history, but also one created in bite-sized chunks, that inspire just as often as they shock.
If you want to know about writing, about how to make others share the horror and intensity of an experience, try the first piece in this collection, Justice at Night. Martha Gellhorn wrote it as a 28-year-old, having just returned home to the States after four years in Europe, in 1936. What follows is a selection of fifty years of peacetime journalism, history caught at the moment of its unfolding, as it looked and felt to those who experienced it. It's about revolutions in the making, guilty acts of state terrorism, poverty, injustice and recovery. It vividly captures the range and intensity of Gellhorn's courageous work and is also a passionate call to arms, not only to remember the wronged and to bear witness to evil, but to stand your ground in the face of it.
After editing The Columbia Review, staging plays at Cambridge, and a stint in the greeting-card department of Macy's, Robert Gottlieb stumbled into a job at Simon and Schuster.
By the time he left to run Alfred A. Knopf a dozen years later, he was the editor in chief, having discovered and edited Catch-22 and The American Way of Death, among other bestsellers. At Knopf, Gottlieb edited an astonishing list of authors, including Toni Morrison, John Cheever, Doris Lessing, John le Carré, Michael Crichton, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Graham, Robert Caro, Nora Ephron, and Bill Clinton - not to mention Bruno Bettelheim and Miss Piggy.
In Avid Reader, Gottlieb writes with wit and candour about succeeding William Shawn as the editor of The New Yorker, and the challenges and satisfactions of running America's preeminent magazine. Sixty years after joining Simon and Schuster, Gottlieb is still at it - editing, anthologising, and, to his surprise, writing.
But this account of a life founded upon reading is about more than the arc of a singular career - one that also includes a lifelong involvement with the world of dance. It's about transcendent friendships and collaborations, "elective affinities" and family, psychoanalysis and Bakelite purses, the alchemical relationship between writer and editor, the glory days of publishing, and always, the sheer exhilaration of work.
Miranda Hart's hilarious account of her life with her best companion - her gorgeous dog Peggy. For years Miranda viewed dog owners with some suspicion. She was bored by the way that only talked about their pooches, alarmed by their light coating of dog hair and troubled by their apparent comfort around excrement.
But that all changed when, nine years ago, Miranda met Peggy, a gorgeous shih tzu - bichon frise cross (Miranda calls the breed A Shitty Frise). She was exceptionally cute (the dog), very smart (again, the dog) and they bonded from their very first meeting. Their love quickly blossomed and they became inseparable.
Since then, Miranda's life has had its ups and downs - when they first met there was no such thing as a sitcom called Miranda - and she candidly charts this in the book. No one has been more surprised than Miranda herself that it's been her wonder dog who has taught her the best life lessons, taken her on hilarious adventures and become her smart talking but utterly loyal and loveable best friend.
William H. Herndon aspired to write a faithful portrait of his friend and law partner, Abraham Lincoln, based on his own observations and on hundreds of letters and interviews he had compiled for the purpose. Even more important, he was determined to present Lincoln as a man, rather than a saint, and to reveal things that the prevailing Victorian conventions said should be left out of the biography of a great national hero.
A variety of obstacles kept Herndon from writing his book, however, and not until he found a collaborator in Jesse W. Weik did the biography begin to take shape. It finally appeared in 1889, to decidedly mixed reviews. Though controversial from the outset, Herndon's Lincoln nonetheless established itself as a classic, and remains, as Don E. Fehrenbacher declared, "the most influential biography of Lincoln ever published."
This new edition restores the original text, includes two chapters added in the revised (1892) edition, and traces the history of how Herndon and his collaborator, after many delays, produced one of the landmark biographies in American letters. Extensive annotation affords the reader a detailed look at the biography's sources.
Mindy Kaling has found herself at a turning point. So in Why Not Me?, she shares her ongoing journey to find fulfilment and adventure in her adult life, be it falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in unlikely places, or attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behaviour modification whatsoever. In How to Look Spectacular , she reveals her tongue-in-cheek solutions for guaranteed on-camera beauty. Player tells the story of Mindy being seduced, then dumped, by a female friend in LA. And in Soup Snakes, she spills some secrets on her relationship with ex-boyfriend and close friend B. J. Novak. Mindy has put the anxieties, the glamour and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into this book, to which anyone can relate. (And, if they can't, they can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.)
A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant
Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and at the same time truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love honestly, generously, and authentically. Hoping to give Maggie the best chance possible for a successful transplant, the sisters dig deep into the marrow of their relationship to clear a path to unconditional acceptance. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors but take on what Lesser calls a “soul marrow transplant,” examining their family history, having difficult conversations, upending old assumptions, and offering forgiveness, until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process before, during, and after the transplant encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects of their lives.
But Maggie’s body does not ultimately prevail in the fight against relentless illness. As she and Lesser prepare for the inevitable, they grow ever closer, their shared blood cells becoming a symbol of their enduring bond. Told with suspense and humor, Marrow is joyous and heartbreaking, incandescent and profound, revealing how even the most difficult experiences can offer unexpected spiritual growth.
Reflecting on the multifaceted nature of love love of other, love of self, love of the world Marrow is an unflinching and beautiful memoir about getting to the very center of oneself.
For those with even a passing interest in the Second World War, the name Colin Gubbins is synonymous with the Special Operations Executive (SOE). This is not surprising as from its creation in late 1940 at Prime Minister Winston Churchill's command 'to set Europe ablaze', Gubbins was the driving force behind SOE. Over the next four years as, first, Operations and Training Director (codename M) and, from 1943, its Commander (CD) he masterminded every aspect of its worldwide covert operations. Remarkably this is the first full biography of the man whose contribution to victory ranks in the premier league. The Author's research and access to family archives reveal the experiences in The Great War and later in Russia, Ireland, Poland and as Head of British Resistance that made Gubbins such a pivotal and influential wartime figure. The result is a fascinating biography that reveals as much about SOE's extraordinary activities as it does about the man who inspired and commanded them.
Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the longest serving Prime Ministers of Israel. For much of the world, Netanyahu is a right-wing nationalist zealot; for many Israelis he is a centrist who is too soft on Arabs and backs down too easily in a fight. Love him or loathe him, Netanyahu has been at the very centre of Arab-Israeli politics since 1990, when he became the telegenic Israeli spokesman for CNN's coverage of the Persian Gulf War, arguably ushering in the Americanization of the Israeli media. Netanyahu is famous for his TV skills, but there is so much more to reveal - good and bad - about the man and his place in Israeli, Middle Eastern and world political history. At present there is no major profile of Netanyahu in the English language, so the publication of this book is a landmark of considerable importance, especially as in March 2015 he was re-elected for a further term in office. Using the juncture of the Oslo Accords to take the reader back to Netanyahu's formative years, Neill Lochery, a renowned scholar of Middle Eastern politics and history, chronicles not only the Prime Minister's life but also the issues his career has encompassed, from the rise of militant Islam to the politics of oil; from the transformation of Israeli politics by the 24/7 cable news cycle to the US's changing role in the Middle East.
Diane Arbus was one of the greatest photographers of the last century. Her portraiture of freaks, circus performers, twins, nudists and others on the social margins connected with a wide public at a deep psychological level. Her suicide in New York in 1971 overshadowed the reception to her work. Her posthumous exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art a year later drew lines around the block. She was born into a Russian-Jewish family, the Nemerovs, who owned a department store on Fifth Avenue. They were family friends with the Avedons. Richard Avedon later championed Arbus's work. Avedon rose to greater and greater commercial success through the magazine world. Arbus died in a rent-protected apartment scrambling to earn her keep with odd teaching assignments. Lubow's biography begins at the moment Arbus quit the world of commercial photography to be an artist. She was uncompromising in that ambition. The book ends with her death. The entire narrative is a slow march towards that event.
Dan Lyons was Technology Editor at Newsweek Magazine for years, a magazine writer at the top of his profession. One Friday morning he received a phone call: his job no longer existed. Fifty years old and with a wife and two young kids, Dan was unemployed and facing financial oblivion. Then an idea hit. Dan had long reported on Silicon Valley and the tech explosion. Why not join it? HubSpot, a Boston start-up, was flush with $100 million in venture capital. They offered Dan a pile of stock options for the nebulous role of marketing fellow. What could possibly go wrong? What follows is a hilarious and excoriating account of Dan's time at the start-up and a revealing window onto the dysfunctional culture that prevails in a world flush with cash and devoid of experience. Filled with stories of meaningless jargon, teddy bears at meetings, push-up competitions and all-night parties, this uproarious tale is also a trenchant analysis of the dysfunctional start-up world, a de facto conspiracy between those who start companies and those who fund them. It is a world where bad ideas are rewarded with hefty investments, where companies blow money lavishing perks on their post-collegiate workforces, and where everybody is trying to hang on just long enough to cash out with a fortune.
The Birds and the Bees series was designed for Vintage Classics by Timorous Beasties, the Scottish studio famous for their designs inspired by the natural world. As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. Years later, when her father died, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for GBP800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. Her story is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. This is the winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize.
Sir Edward Heath KG MBE MP (1916-2005) was the first leader of the Conservative Party to come from a working-class background; he was also the first leader to be elected by the party's MPs, rather than 'emerging'. His time as Prime Minister (1970-74) was marked by industrial unrest, an upsurge of violence in Northern Ireland and severe economic turbulence, exacerbated by a world oil crisis. He was famously responsible for taking the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community (now the European Union). After Margaret Thatcher deposed him as Conservative leader in 1975, his bitter public feud with her lasted for over two decades.; In this landmark book Michael McManus, Heath's one-time political secretary, gathers reflections and contributions from an unprecedented range of sources, including Margaret Thatcher, Michael Heseltine, Roy Jenkins, Jim Prior and Steve Redgrave, to shed new light on the personality and politics of Sir Edward Heath.
'She is our hero. Everyone must read her story. She will inspire you' Malala Yousafzai An inspiring tale of a young disabled girl and her escape from the hell of war. Nujeen Mustafa has cerebral palsy. This did not stop her travelling, with her sister, 4000 miles from Syria to Hungary in a wheelchair. Having taught herself to speak English by watching US soap-operas on Syrian TV, she made her way to the Hungarian border in the hope of asylum in Germany, where she has told her story, with Christina Lamb - bestselling co-author of 'I Am Malala'. A 16-year-old Syrian girl, she has the courage of a lion. A strong, extraordinary voice, Nujeen tells the story of what it's really like to be a refugee, to have grown up through war and left a beloved homeland to become dependent on others. It tells how the Syrian war has destroyed a proud nation and torn families apart in the face of international indifference by leaders scarred by previous interventions, and the incredible bravery of a person determined to keep smiling. It is the story of our times told through one remarkable girl.
A momentous memoir of childhood and adolescence from one of our finest and most beloved writers, as we've never seen her before. In The Lost Landscape, Joyce Carol Oates vividly recreates the early years of her life, powerfully evoking the romance of childhood and the way it colours everything that comes after. With memories ranging from her first friendships to her first experiences with death, this is an arresting account of the ways in which Oates's life (and her life as a writer) was shaped by early childhood and how her later work was influenced by a hard rural upbringing. Oates renders her memories and emotions with exquisite precision and transports the reader to a bygone place and time - the lost landscape of the writer's past but also the lost landscapes of our own earliest, and most essential, lives.
The inspiring true story of how courage, a dream, and some needle and thread can change a life forever...
Since she was young, Tala Raassi knew her fate lay in fashion. But growing up in her beloved homeland of Iran, a woman can be punished for exposing her hair in public, let alone wearing the newest trends. Despite strict regulations, Tala developed a keen sense of style in backroom cafes and secret parties. She never imagined her behavior would land her in prison, or bring the cruel sting of a whip for the crime of wearing a mini-skirt.
Tala's forty lashes didn't keep her down – they fanned the flames of individuality and inspired her to embrace a new freedom in the United States. As she developed her own clothing label, her exploration into the creative, cut throat community of Western fashion opened her eyes to the ups and downs of hard work, hard decisions, and hard truths.
Fashion is Freedom takes us on a journey that crosses the globe, from Colombia to Miss Universe, and inspires women everywhere to be fearless...
Sir Tony Robinson is a much-loved actor, presenter and author with a stellar career lasting over fifty years. Now, in his long-awaited autobiography, he reveals how the boy from South Woodford went from child stardom in the first stage production of Oliver!, a pint-sized pickpocket desperately bleaching his incipient moustache, to comedy icon Baldrick, the loyal servant and turnip aficionado in Blackadder. It wasn't all plain sailing though. Along the way he was bullied by Steve Marriott, failed to impress Liza Minnelli and was pushed into a stinking London dock by John Wayne. He also entertained us with Maid Marion and Her Merry Men (which he wrote and starred in) and coped manfully when locked naked outside a theatre in Lincoln during the live tour of comedy series Who Dares Wins. He presented Time Team for twenty years, watching countless gardens ruthlessly dug up in the name of archaeology, and risked life and limb filming The Worst Jobs in History. Packed full of incident and insight, No Cunning Plan is a funny, self-deprecating and always entertaining read.
How did Kafka become Kafka? This eagerly anticipated third and final volume of Reiner Stach's definitive biography answers that question with more facts, detail, and insight than ever before, describing the complex personal, political, and cultural circumstances that shaped the young Franz Kafka (1883-1924).
This tells the story of the years from his birth in Prague to the beginning of his professional and literary career in 1910, taking the reader up to just before the breakthrough that resulted in his first masterpieces, including "The Metamorphosis." Brimming with vivid and often startling details, Stach's narrative invites readers deep inside this neglected period of Kafka's life. The book's richly atmospheric portrait of his German Jewish merchant family and his education, psychological development, and sexual maturation draw on numerous sources, some still unpublished, including family letters, schoolmates' memoirs, and early diaries of his close friend Max Brod.
The biography also provides a colorful panorama of Kafka's wider world, especially the convoluted politics and culture of Prague. Before World War I, Kafka lived in a society at the threshold of modernity but torn by conflict, and Stach provides poignant details of how the adolescent Kafka witnessed violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism and nationalism. The reader also learns how he developed a passionate interest in new technologies, particularly movies and airplanes, and why another interest--his predilection for the back-to-nature movement--stemmed from his "nervous" surroundings rather than personal eccentricity.
The crowning touch to a masterly biography, this is an unmatched account of how a boy who grew up in an old Central European monarchy became a writer who helped create modern literature.
Germany in the mid 1920s, a place and time of looming turmoil, brought together Walter Benjamin-acclaimed critic and extraordinary literary theorist-and Bertolt Brecht, one of the twentieth century's most influential playwrights. It was a friendship that would shape their writing for the rest of their lives. In this groundbreaking work, Erdmut Wizisla explores what this relationship meant for them personally and professionally, as well as the effect it had on those around them. From the first meeting between Benjamin and Brecht to their experiences in exile, these eventful lives are illuminated by personal correspondence, journal entries and private miscellany-including previously unpublished materials-detailing the friends' electric discussions of their collaboration. Wizisla delves into the archives of other luminaries in the distinguished constellation of writers and artists in Weimar Germany, which included Margarete Steffin, Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch and Hannah Arendt. Wizisla's account of this friendship opens a window on nearly two decades of European intellectual life.