Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan

Woody Allen: a life of jazz, laughter, depression —and a few misdemeanours

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), the prolific, Oscar-winning auteur, New Orleans-style jazz clarinettist, doyen of New York delicatessen society,…


A gleeful vision of the future from Margaret Atwood

What could happen in literature to a young couple — or a pair of young couples — who fall off…

Author Irvine Welsh Photo: Getty

Taxi ride to the dark side: a thrilling blast of full-strength Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh, I think it’s safe to say, is not a writer who’s mellowing with age. His latest book sees…

Miranda July Photo: Getty

Miranda July may be a film director, performance artist, sculptor and designer — but she is no novelist

Miranda July is a funny and brilliant film director, performance artist, sculptor and smartphone app designer. In 2005, she won…

Nick Hornby Photo: Getty

The greatest sitcom that never was

Funny Girl is the story of the early career of the vivacious, hilarious Sophie Straw, star of the much-loved BBC…

The unfortunate Manuel in
Fawlty Towers — portrayed by the similarly accident-prone Andrew Sachs

The harrowing, inspiring life of Andrew Sachs

Comedians always like to claim that they started making jokes after childhoods made harsh by poverty; that at a formative…


An utterly charming, totally bonkers short novel

This utterly charming, totally bonkers short novel is something from another age. There are elements of A Handful of Dust…

A Memorial Is Held On The 20th Anniversary Of The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson, edited by Harry Mount - review

It’s just a guess, but I suspect that the mere sight of this book would make David Cameron gnash his…

Life imitates art

The other evening my wife came home to find me watching re-runs of Steptoe and Son. The washing up had…

A bit of slap and tickle

Hard on the heels of the ecstatically received London revival of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off (currently playing at the Novello…

Deviation and double entendre

If there’s anything full-time novelists hate more than a celebrity muscling in on their turf, it’s the celebrity doing such…


Bookends: The showbiz Boris Johnson

Amiability can take you a long way in British public life. James Corden is no fool: he co-wrote and co-starred…


An existential hero

Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death

Cross-cultural exchanges

The 18 stories, each around a dozen pages long, in E.C. Osondu’s Voice of America seem to have poured out of him like water. They have a fluency, an evenness of tone and texture, that creates an illusion of transparency and simplicity.


The sound of broken glass

What do Evelyn Waugh, Peter Cook and Chris Morris have in common? I would have said ‘irreverence’ and left it at that; but the social scientist Peter Wilkin has written a book on the subject, The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism.

Dying of laughter

Marcus Berkmann on the few genuinely funny books aimed at this year’s Christmas market


Anything for a laugh

A hundred years ago, when Britannia still ruled the waves, the Royal Navy fell victim to a humiliating hoax, reports of which kept the public amused for a few wintry days in February 1910.


A couple of drifters

Paul Torday was 59 when his first novel, the highly acclaimed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, was published in 2006.

Quirky books for Christmas

After the Christmas ‘funny’ books, here’s an even larger pile of Christmas ‘quirky’ books.

But then the snow turned to rain

My daughter when small came home from school one night singing these extraordinary lines: ‘Fortune, my foe, why dost thou frown on me/ And will thy favours never lighter be?’

The one that got away

Michael Palin is the meekest, mildest and nicest of the Pythons.

Cries and whispers

Strange Days Indeed, by Francis Wheen

Joking apart

Free association underpins the comedy of Lorrie Moore’s writing — or perhaps the verb should be ‘unpins’, since her prose spins off in tangential, apparently affectless riffs.

Behind the wit

Home to Roost and Other Peckings by Deborah Devonshire, edited by Charlotte Mosley