BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT
By Elizabeth Smart (Collins £9.99, 160pp)
BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT By Elizabeth Smart
Canadian writer Elizabeth Smart fell in love with married British poet George Barker through his verse, but after inviting him to a writer’s colony in California in 1941 they embarked on a passionate affair for almost 20 years — which resulted in four children she raised alone.
That relationship is the inspiration for this extraordinary prose poetry novel: a febrile, freeform explosion of love, desire, jealousy and guilt that pulses with pleasure and pain. From the opening seduction we follow their deception of his wife, Smart’s mother’s shame (she tried to get the book banned) and the unapologetic consequences of her actions.
Barker himself called it a ‘Catherine wheel of a book’ — light the touchpaper and stand back.
ISLANDS IN THE STREAM
By Ernest Hemingway (Vintage £9.99, 464pp)
ISLANDS IN THE STREAM By Ernest Hemingway
THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE By Douglas Adams, illustrated by Chris Riddell
It comes perhaps as a surprise that Hemingway’s novels are being reissued as he’s fallen out of fashion — his spare, muscular, masculine prose feels uncomfortable to modern readers (be warned: there’s no Roald Dahl-style clean-up of his racist, sexist language).
But as this, his last and posthumously published novel shows, he can still evoke moments of physical drama and emotional pain.
Written in three sections in the lead up to and during the war, it follows talented, twice-divorced artist Thomas Hudson through a summer with his three much-loved sons — and the tragic aftermath. Few write so thrillingly of a prolonged sea battle with a powerful fish or the male camaraderie of war, all lubricated with mind-boggling quantities of alcohol. . . .
THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE
By Douglas Adams, illustrated by Chris Riddell (Macmillan £13.99, 320pp)
After escaping the destruction of Earth, human Arthur Dent and intergalactic hitchhiker Ford Prefect are reunited with Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin, the paranoid, Eeyore-like android, in search of Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
But nothing goes as planned (is there even a plan?), and Arthur and Ford find themselves on pre-historic Earth, where Ford tries to warn the Neanderthals that destruction looms in two million years’ time — but they ignore him. . . .
This dazzlingly entertaining fantasy is stunningly illustrated by former Children’s Laureate and political cartoonist Chris Riddell in a lavishly produced gift edition.
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