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The Joy of Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson review – a compendium of delights

The Guardian writer’s collection of her columns is a droll and open-hearted bite-size readIn 2018, when things seemed bleak, both in her personal life and in the world at large, the journalist Hannah Jane Parkinson started writing a column for the Guardian on small things that gave her joy. The idea, she freely admits, was nabbed from JB Priestley,...

Palmares by Gayl Jones review – an enslaved child’s search for utopia

Set in 17th-century Brazil, Jones’s first novel in 20 years is an intricate, imaginative story of love and brutalityAmerican author Gayl Jones was famously introduced to the world in 1975 by her then editor, Toni Morrison, who, after reading her manuscript, declared that “no novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this”. Published when...

Life Without Children by Roddy Doyle review – frustrated lives in lockdown

In these emotionally charged short stories, Doyle explores love, resentment and connection through the eye of the pandemicRoddy Doyle is a master of capturing the gulf between what people say to one another in intimate relationships, and what they want to say. His specialism over the last decade or so has been a particular generation of working-class...

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl – a Foo Fighter pulls his punches

The pre-fame years of the stadium rocker take precedence over tensions in Nirvana in a family-friendly but lively collection of vignettesIf you are curious about Dave Grohl, drummer from “tragic grunge poster boys” Nirvana, whose Nevermind album has just turned 30, The Storyteller might not be the memoir for you. The band’s legacy remains overshadowed...

Beyond a Fringe review - the rise and fall of Andrew Mitchell

An engrossing memoir charts the Tory MP’s ascent to cabinet, the disaster of ‘Plebgate’ and his subsequent reinvention as a scourge of Boris Johnson with honesty, insight and witHis CV reads like a caricature. Prep school, public school, army, Cambridge, investment banking, Conservative MP, government whip, cabinet minister. Andrew Mitchell has passed...

Penelope Lively: ‘I was a traumatised teenager’

The Booker-winning author on starting late as a writer, her clear recall of growing up in Cairo, and the TV programme that kept her going during lockdownPenelope Lively, the author of many novels and short story collections, is the only writer to have won both the Booker prize (in 1987, for her novel Moon Tiger) and the Carnegie Medal, an award that...

‘Every time you commit an antisocial act, push an acorn into the ground’: Rebecca Solnit on Orwell’s lessons from nature

When the American writer went in search of trees and roses planted by George Orwell in a Hertfordshire garden, she uncovered questions of legacy and peaceIn the spring of 1936 a writer planted roses. I had known this for more than three decades and never thought enough about what that meant until a November day a few years ago, when I was under doctor’s...

“Every time you commit an antisocial act, push an acorn into the ground”: Rebecca Solnit on Orwell’s lessons from nature

When the American writer went in search of trees and roses planted by George Orwell in a Hertfordshire garden, she uncovered questions of legacy and peaceIn the spring of 1936 a writer planted roses. I had known this for more than three decades and never thought enough about what that meant until a November day a few years ago, when I was under doctor’s...

Tom Gauld on different kinds of literary workshop – cartoon

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A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris review – gross, moving, hilarious

The second instalment of the flâneur’s diaries takes in family relationships, book signings, shopping and monkeysIncuriosity is not one of David Sedaris’s flaws, and in this second tranche of his diaries, his appetite for observing the absurdities and idiosyncrasies of his fellow humans is deliciously rampant. Take the drivers who ferry him from airport...

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