The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin (1976)

Liebermann said, ‘Ninety-four Hitlers,’ and shook his head. ‘No,’ he said. ‘No. It’s not possible.’ (p.181) Backstory It is 1974. Former evil Nazi scientist Dr Mengele, is masterminding from his base on the border between Argentina and Paraguay, the climax of a thirty year-long project. Before the end of the war he took blood and […]

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (1972)

Not only Walter, she realised suddenly. They would all be out looking for her, cruising the road with flashlights, spotlights. How could they let her get away and tell? Every man was a threat, every car a danger. (p.124) Plot A clean-cut, white, all-American young family move out of the big bad city to the idyllic small […]

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (1967)

Levin was a professional writer who produced half a dozen novels, nine plays – including the fifth longest-running play on Broadway (Deathtrap) – as well as ten or so film scripts and adaptations, in a career which lasted from the early 1950s to the early 2000s. It is a real achievement for a writer to […]

Rushing to Paradise by J.G. Ballard (1994)

‘Is this how new religions begin?’ (Neil to Carline) The problem with Ballard’s later novels Empire of the Sun (1984) and The Kindness of Women (1991) are powerful displays of fictional autobiography, of Ballard taking autobiographical elements from his life and creating highly contrived, posed and arranged scenes and narratives, which both display the autobiographical roots […]

Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive @ the Photographers’ Gallery

Silver Lake Drive is a major new exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, the first mid-career survey of American photographer and filmmaker, Alex Prager (b.1979). The exhibition stretches over two floors, tracing Prager’s career especially over the last ten years, bringing together 40 photographs and all six of her films to date. Be warned: I loathed this […]

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith (1981)

Moscow was a low city. From the river it almost disappeared into its own somnolent ether. (p.65) Tall, gaunt Moscow criminal investigator Arkady Renko is a disappointment to his father, the cranky old war-hero general; a disappointment to his bitch of a wife, Zoya, who is openly having an affair with a colleague and trying […]

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins (1998)

Here is another analogy… (p.12) Although this book is over 20 years old, the issues it addresses (the anti-scientific tendency of much traditional literature and the inappropriate use of poetic writing in bogus pseudo-science – versus the hard scientific fact and clear scientific thinking Dawkins promotes) are still very current, and since Dawkins is still […]

Mimesis: African Soldier @ the Imperial War Museum

Making a new world For the past year or so, Imperial War Museum London has given over its third floor to four related but very different exhibitions marking the end of the First World War a hundred years ago. They come under the overarching title of Making A New World, and have been accompanied by a […]

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (1951)

The unnamed narrator is on a walking holiday in Wisconsin. Over the brow of a hill comes a stranger. The narrator invites him to share his simple dinner. Relaxing in the sun, the stranger takes off his shirt to reveal that his body is absolutely covered in wonderful tattoos, lurid El Greco designs painted in sulphurous […]

Women, Art and Society by Whitney Chadwick (2012)

The historical texts need constant rereading as we attempt to understand better the problematic of femininity and the role of images in the social production of meaning. (p.31) This is a massive, hugely impressive and very useful book, a comprehensive history of women artists from the Middle Ages to the present day, which reincorporates hundreds […]