A well-told lie

13 August 2011 12:00 am

Michael Ondaatje takes a journey into childhood


Pig in the middle

22 January 2011 12:00 am

Writing an autobiographical account of middle age is a brave undertaking, necessitating a great deal of self-scrutiny at a time of life when most of us would sooner look the other way and hope for the best.

Red badge of courage

1 January 2011 12:00 am

The author describes this book as an ‘auto- biographical novel’, but since it would be quite beyond me to distinguish fact from fiction in this hair-raising account of his childhood years, I propose to treat it as if it were all true, especially as I can’t imagine anyone making any of it up.


Cambridge and after

25 September 2010 12:00 am

My dread was that someone would ask me my opinion of Lermontov or Superstring Theory or the Categorical Imperatives of Kant.


A charismatic narcissist

11 September 2010 12:00 am

In equal measure, this book is fascinating and irritating.


A foot in both camps

7 August 2010 12:00 am

As a five-year-old in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem in the 1950s, Kai Bird overheard an elderly American heiress offering $1 million to anyone who could solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.


The dying of the light

7 August 2010 12:00 am

The phrasing of the subtitle is exact: a memoir in blindness, not of blind- ness.


Crisp and brave

24 July 2010 12:00 am

Among my guests last weekend as I read Lord Mandelson’s book was Ben, aged two and a half.

How are you today?

7 July 2010 12:00 am

How am I? Very well, thank you.


Mountain sheep aren’t sweeter

2 June 2010 12:00 am

Anyone who can speak Welsh is going to get a lot of fun from this book.


Insufficiently honoured here

2 June 2010 12:00 am

‘Next time it’s full buggery!’ said Christopher Hitchens as I helped him onto a train at Taunton station after a full luncheon of Black Label, Romanée-Conti, eel risotto and suckling pig.


Casualties of war and peace

14 April 2010 12:00 am

John Simpson quotes Humbert Wolfe’s mischievous lampoon but makes it clear that, in spite of the somewhat disobliging title of his book, he does not accept it as fair comment.


The ghost of an egoist

17 February 2010 12:00 am

Very long books appear at intervals about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.


Survivor syndrome

10 February 2010 12:00 am

In late middle age, William Styron was struck by a disabling illness, when everything seemed colourless, futile and empty to him.

Chic lit

11 November 2009 12:00 am

First, I must declare an interest.

Fun and games

4 November 2009 12:00 am

Sport, say those who write about it, is only the toy department of daily journalism.

Mum, dad and the music

21 October 2009 12:00 am

Bob Geldof is quoted on the cover of Gary Kemp’s autobiography with untypical succinctness: ‘Great bloke, great band, great book’.

But then the snow turned to rain

14 October 2009 12:00 am

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?’

It’s not all good manners

24 June 2009 12:00 am

An Education, by Lynn Barber