It's a no-brainer: Jon Savage's pre-history of youth culture, Teenage
(Chatto & Windus). It's a proper book - it has heft. And not only
that, it's also fascinating and coherent and witty and challenging and
perplexing and poetic and awe-inspiringly intelligent. Even just holding
it in my hands makes me feel like a small child carrying a large birthday
cake with all the candles lit.
is finely researched, finely narrated, moving and perceptive - a major
book about a major writer.
Pierre Joris. Breathturn is the earliest of Celan's final three books of
poetry. The other two, Threadsuns and Lightduress, had already been
published and I had been waiting to complete the trilogy. Although Celan
has a reputation for obscurity, I find him more moving than any other
20th-century poet. These editions - with English and German on facing
pages - could not be bettered.
police helicopter pilots, Samaritans, cleaners and sewage maintenance
people. The book reads like a novel but has the immediacy of good
reportage, the sort of stuff that used to appear in Granta. You come away in awe at all that goes on in the capital on an average evening - and full of respect for an author who has left the study to discover how things really work.
for idea, it gave me more pure reading pleasure than any book I've read in
the past few years. I only wished it were a thousand pages longer.
domestic history of Wales. Half a lifetime in the making, with 1,500
pictures, it should be, as they say, in every Welsh library (though in
view of its price, I share my copy with my son Twm, who fortunately lives
today, still not fitting in 'quite', either too big or too small or
growing too fast! It is amusing to read fiction as a satire, not as a
simple story, and has been my favourite book all year. I have also been
reading Judy Chicago, edited by Elizabeth A Sackler (Watson-Guptill
Publications). This book is interesting in that the long verbatim
interviews show Chicago's awareness of gender as an issue in art.
Anne Tyler, Michael Ondaatje, Hanif Kureishi, Irvine Welsh, JG Ballard, Simon Callow, Hari Kunzru, Oliver Sacks. Beryl Bainbridge and others here.