'I consider myself a poet first and a musician second' 'It ain't the melodies that're important man, it's the words' Two quotes from Dylan himself that underline the importance of this book. Dylanology thrives. There is no shortage of books about him and many of them will be dusted off for his 70th birthday. This one, however, stands on its own both for its unusual approach and for the virtuosity of its execution. Ricks's scheme, aptly, is to examine Dylan's songs through the biblical concepts of the seven deadly Sins, the four Virtues, and the three Heavenly Graces. He carries it off with panache. Ricks may be the most eminent literary critic of his generation but nobody should feel his book is one of earnest, unapproachable exegesis, on the contrary it has a flamboyance, almost effervescence about it that is captivating. Ricks boldly and successfully judges Dylan as a poet not a lyricist and in his tour-de-force makes endless illuminating comparisons with canonical writers such as Eliot, Hardy, Hopkins and Larkin.
The Complete Edition.
Includes the engraved frontispiece and (fictional) dedication and with a new preface by Ian Rankin.
It is Scotland in the early eighteenth century. Fear and superstition grip the land. Robert Wringhim, a boy of strict Calvinist upbringing, is corrupted by a shadowy figure who calls himself Gil-Martin. Under his influence Robert commits a series of murders which he regards as 'justified' by God under the tenets of his faith.
Hogg's book is a brilliant portrayal of the power of evil and a scathing critique of organised religion. Superbly crafted and deftly executed, it resists any easy explanation of events: is this stranger a figment of Robert's imagination, or the devil himself?
'Hogg's enduring masterpiece is a triumph and deserves to be read, enjoyed and discussed by a new generation.' Ian Rankin 'One of the great works on that sinister border between the supernatural and the psychological. Its atmosphere is unique, its penetration is shocking, and the truthfulness of its account of religious mania is both timeless and timely.' Philip Pullman 'A work so moving, so funny, so impassioned, so exact and so mysterious that its long history of neglect came as a surprise which has yet to lose its resonance.' Karl Miller, Times Literary Supplement 'Hogg's masterpiece is a psychological thriller, a metaphysical puzzle and a theological and philosophical maze all in one. Its inconsistencies and unresolved questions are what makes it at once so gripping ad yet so hard to grasp. A strange, disturbing obsession of a book, and a key text of Scottish literature.' James Robertson, author of The Testament of Gideon Mack
Alessandro Baricco re-creates the siege of Troy through the voices of 21 Homeric characters. Sacrificing none of Homer's panoramic scope, Baricco forgoes Homer's detachment and admits us to realms of subjective experience his predecessor never explored. From the return of Chryseis to the burial of Hector, we see through human eyes and feel with human hearts the unforgettable events first recounted more than 3,000 years ago events arranged not by the whims of the gods in this instance but by the dictates of human nature. With Andromache, Patroclus, Priam, and the rest, we are privy to the ghastly confusion of battle, the clamour of the princely councils, the intimacies of the bedchamber until finally only a blind poet is left to recount secondhand the awful fall of Ilium. Imbuing the stuff of legend with a startlingly new relevancy and humanity, Baricco gives us The Iliad as we have never known it. His transformative achievement is certain to delight and fascinate all the readers of Homer's indispensable classic.
Jacob and Edna have fallen on hard times. They haven't lost everything the way others have, but they have lost enough. When one of their hens stops laying eggs, it seems like the final straw. Jacob is determined to solve the mystery. What he discovers is as heartbreaking as it is revelatory.
This is just one of the remarkable stories in Burning Bright - an award-winning collection that confirms why Ron Rash has won comparisons with John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy and Gabriel García Màrquez.
It is rare that an author can capture the complexities of a place as though it were a person, as Ron Rash does with the rugged, brutal landscape of the Appalachian Mountains. At the same time, again and again he conjures characters that live long in the mind after their stories have been told.
The Gift has come to be regarded as a modern classic. This inspiring examination of the "gift economy" is even more relevant now than when it originally appeared - a brilliantly argued defence of the place of creativity in our increasingly market-orientated society. The Gift takes as its opening premise the idea that a work of art is a gift and not a commodity. Hyde proceeds to show how "the commerce of the creative spirit" functions in the lives of artists and within culture as a whole, backing up his radical thesis with illuminating examples from economics, literature, anthropology and psychology. Whether discussing the circulations of gifts in tribal societies, the ethics of usury, the woman given in marriage or Whitman's Leaves of Grass, this wide-ranging book is as entertaining as it is ground-breaking, a masterful analysis of the creative act in all its manifestations. It is in itself an extraordinary gift to all who discover it.
From the cruel irony of 'A Member of the Family' to the fateful echoes of 'The Gp-Away Bird' and the unexpectedly sinister 'The Girl I Left Behind Me', in settings that range from South Africa to the Portobello Road, Muriel Spark coolly probes the idiosyncrasies that lurk beneath the veneer of human respectability, displaying the acerbic wit and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her unique talent.
With the economic downturn, the hysterical Swine Flu frenzy and the systemic corruption of our political system we need someone to guide us through these difficult times. Emergency tells how Strauss went from shivering the whole night through in a water-logged sleeping bag on a tracking course, with only his broken Blackberry for company, to being the well-trained and even better equipped survival expert he is today.
Encountering a host of weird and hilarious characters along the way, Strauss's timely and wry look at the The End of the World As We Know It will make you glad you chose to be on his side.
'No other writer is so ceaselessly astonished by the natural world as he.' Robert Macfarlane The name of John Muir has come to stand for the protection of wild land and wilderness in both America and Britain. Born in Dunbar in 1838, Muir is famed as a pioneer of conservation, and his passion, discipline and vision are still inspirational today.
Combining acute observation with a sense of inner discovery, Muir's description of the summer he spent in what would become Yosemite National park in California's Sierra Nevada mountains raises an awareness of nature to a spiritual dimension. His journal provides a unique weaving of natural history, lyrical prose and amusing anecdote, retaining a freshness, intensity and honesty which will amaze the modern reader.
'The richness of Muir's writing roots deeper into the terrain than any other wilderness writer known to me.' Los Angeles Times 'As more and more of us grow aghast at what we have done to the world we started with, Muir's reverence and devotion will seem keenly germane, and our regret may be transmuted into a fight for the future.' Edward Hoagland
Jeff Atman, a journalist, is in Venice to cover the opening of the Venice Art Biennale. He's expecting to see a load of art, go to a lot of parties and drink too many bellinis. He's not expecting to meet the spellbinding Laura, who will completely transform his few days in the city. Another city, another assignment: this time on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi. Amid the crowds, ghats and chaos of India's holiest Hindu city a different kind of transformation lies in wait. A beautifully told story of erotic love and spiritual yearning, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is playful, stylish, sensual, comic, ingenious and utterly captivating. It confirms Geoff Dyer as one of Britain's most exciting and original writers.
Was the twentieth century the most violent in history? Are religions or tyrants, capitalism or communism the cause of most human suffering? Has violence increased or decreased over the course of history?
In this wholly original and remarkably ambitious work, 'Atrocitologist' Matthew White considers man's inhumanity to man across several thousand years of history. From the First Punic War and the collapse of Mayan rule, to the reign of Peter the Great and the cataclysmic events of the Second World War, White's epic book spans centuries and civilisations as it measures the hundred most violent events in human history. While sceptical of any grand theory for the causes of human violence, White does share three big lessons gleaned from his careful statistical analysis: one, chaos is more deadly than tyranny; two, the world is even more disorganised than we realise; and three, wars kill more civilians than soldiers (in fact, the army is usually the safest place to be).
If we study history to avoid the mistakes of the past, then there can be no more important place to start than this eye-opening and entertaining book.
Sarah and Jack have never doubted that they are made for each other. But there is someone in Sarah's family who will not tolerate the relationship. The reason lies in both the past and the present, and it will take Sarah across an ocean to a place she never imagined she would be. Kate Grenville takes us back to the Australia of The Secret River in this novel about love, tangled histories and how it matters to keep stories alive.
Jaffy Brown is running along a street in London's East End when he comes face to face with an escaped circus animal. Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach - explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world's strangest creatures - the two strike up a friendship.
Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies, on an unusual commission for Mr Jamrach. His journey - if he survives it - will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits.
Go the Fuck to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate and refreshingly honest, it captures the familiar and unspoken tribulations of putting your child to bed for the night. Colourfully illustrated and hilariously funny, this is a breath of fresh air for parents new, old, and expectant*.
(*You should probably not read this to your children.)
Pippa seems to have everything in life. But suddenly she finds her world beginning to unravel. Amid the buzzing lawnmowers and suburban coffee mornings, she starts to wonder how she came to be in this place. The answer is a story of wild youth, unexpected encounters, affairs and betrayals, and the dangerous security of marriage. It brilliantly reveals the challenges of modern life - and all the possibilities that it holds.
For Penelope, wife of Odyseeus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan war was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay...
Girl meets boy. It's a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances? Ali Smith's re-mix of Ovid's most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can't be bottled and sold. It is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations. Funny and fresh, poetic and political, Girl Meets Boy is a myth of metamorphosis for the modern world.
In these hilarious stories of perverse meetings, casual dates and romantic encounters, we are enthralled, saddened, inspired and surprised by the encounters we witness. McCall Smith, a master of the unexpected and a seamless storyteller, revels in offering us the quirky complications inherent in entanglements which human beings engineer for themselves - entanglements that can be shocking, edifying, compulsive, complicated and sometimes, completely disastrous. This is an exceptional collection of stories from an author whose rapidly growing audience delights in his extraordinary imagination and delicious insights into the endlessly fascinating peculiarities of the human condition.
Karen Armstrong's concise yet compelling investigation into the history of myth takes us from the Palaeolithic period and the mythology of the hunters right up to the 'Great Western Transformation' of the last 500 years. She shows us that the history of myth is the history of humanity, and our stories and beliefs, our curiosity and attempts to understand the world, link us to our ancestors and each other. Myths help us make sense of the universe, and of ourselves. Armstrong's characteristically insightful and eloquent book serves as a brilliant and thought-provoking introduction to myth in the broadest sense - and why we dismiss it only at our peril.
Eric Sanderson wakes up in a place he doesn't recognise, unable to remember who he is. All he has left are journal entries recalling Clio, a perfect love now gone. So begins a thrilling adventure that will send Eric and his cynical cat Ian on a search for the Ludovician, the force that is threatening his life, and Dr Trey Fidorus, the only man who knows its secrets.