Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson – review

This updated version of a comic book classic beautifully captures the emotional topsy-turvy of travelling alone

Craig Thompson’s travel journal, Carnet de Voyage, is a comic for anyone who has ever travelled alone – and hated themselves for hating it. First published in 2004, it is not a new book. But it has been long out of print, and this lovely edition comes with 32 extra pages, there to provide a kind of update on some of the people he met on his original tour across Europe and Morocco. Clever, funny and disarmingly honest, it is, of course, predictably lovely to look at; Thompson is a master sketcher. What I like about it most, though, is the way it acts as an antidote to the all-seeing, all-consuming power of the smartphone. As its author notes in his opening pages, no cameras or mobiles were used in its making: his ...

Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family by Emily Jane Fox review – it will make you weep

A gossipy study of the Trump clan reveals little of note besides their obsession with keeping up appearances

When Melania Knauss, a Slovenian-born model, married Donald Trump in Palm Beach at 7pm on 22 January 2005, all was right with the world – at least in the eyes of the groom. At his wedding to wife No 2, Marla Maples, in 1993, only a load of B-listers had turned up. “It’s just like I was afraid of,” the radio star Howard Stern would tell a reporter. “I’m the biggest name here.” Now, though, Trump looked around and saw among those gathered at the Episcopal church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea not only Billy Joel, Barbara Walters and Simon Cowell, but also, infamously, Hillary and Bill Clinton. No wonder that once the vows had been exchanged he was moved enthusiastically to kiss his new wife three times in a row (the doomed Maples ...

Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family by Emily Jane Fox review – it will make you weep

A gossipy study of the Trump clan reveals little of note besides their obsession with keeping up appearances

When Melania Knauss, a Slovenian-born model, married Donald Trump in Palm Beach at 7pm on 22 January 2005, all was right with the world – at least in the eyes of the groom. At his wedding to wife No 2, Marla Maples, in 1993, only a load of B-listers had turned up. “It’s just like I was afraid of,” the radio star Howard Stern would tell a reporter. “I’m the biggest name here.” Now, though, Trump looked around and saw among those gathered at the Episcopal church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea not only Billy Joel, Barbara Walters and Simon Cowell, but also, infamously, Hillary and Bill Clinton. No wonder that once the vows had been exchanged he was moved enthusiastically to kiss his new wife three times in a row (the doomed Maples ...

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson – review

A terrorist and a president vie for supremacy in Bill Clinton’s daft fiction debut

In Martin Amis’s 1995 novel of literary enmity, The Information, Richard Tull, failing writer, walks the entire length of the plane that’s taking him to the US, from economy, where he is ignominiously marooned, to first class, where his super-successful rival, Gwyn Barry, lies “practically horizontal on a crimson barge”. During this perambulation, he somewhat loftily observes the books his fellow passengers are reading and thus is able to boost his increasingly wobbly amour propre. In economy, you see, it’s all Daniel Deronda and the first world war. Move towards the front of the plane, though, and the guys in “prestige stockings and celebrity slippers” are majoring exclusively in “chunky chillers and tub-like tinglers”: Cartel and Avarice and The Usurers; Magenta Rhapsody and Of Kingly Blood.

The much-hyped fictional “collaboration” between Bill Clinton, the ...

Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour Hersh – review

US journalist Seymour Hersh recounts in fine detail the stories that made him, from the My Lai massacre to Abu Ghraib

Ten years ago, not long before the election that put Barack Obama in the White House, I went to Washington to interview Seymour Hersh, the reporter who, in 1969, single-handedly uncovered the atrocities that had been committed by an American platoon in My Lai, South Vietnam, 12 months before: a story that hastened the end of the Vietnam war and for which, in 1970, he won a Pulitzer prize. I remember our encounter vividly: the chaos of his office, with its filthy walls and toppling piles of notebooks; the unstoppable flow of his conversation; the wolfish greed with which he scoffed his eggs at breakfast. Above all, what has stayed with me was his almost total lack of interest in anything other than his reporting (by his own ...

Making Oscar Wilde by Michèle Mendelssohn – review

A sinister response to Oscar Wilde’s image is revealed in a new account of his early tour of the US

In January 1882, Oscar Wilde, an ambitious and highly educated young man with one terrible book of poems and a pretty much unstageable tragedy to his name, landed in America for a 50-date lecture tour. Sponsored by Richard D’Oyly Carte, whose production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera Patience was shortly to embark on a similarly long journey across the US, it would take in not only the smartest universities, but the midwest and the deep south, too: Americans everywhere would have the chance to see a real-life fop ahead of the production’s spirited send-up of the species (the opera ridiculed the cult of aestheticism with which Wilde was strongly associated). “Anything is better than virtuous obscurity,” Wilde noted on accepting this unlikely gig. Anything? It wouldn’t be long before ...

Girl With Dove: A Life Built By Books review – lost in the fog of childhood trauma

Literature helped the young Sally Bayley survive, but there is a yawning gap at the heart of her book

Sally Bayley, a writer who teaches at Oxford University, grew up in a filthy and dilapidated house in a Sussex seaside town (Worthing, I think, though I can’t be wholly sure; as she notes herself, facts are thin on the ground in her book) with her mother, several younger siblings, an aunt, and her grandmother, Edna May Turner, AKA Maze. Men were not really permitted to enter this realm, though occasionally one might visit. A bloke called Laurie, for instance, who seems to have been Bayley’s father, once briefly appeared on the horizon; the family trooped out to the Beach hotel with him, where they had grapefruit as a starter. In the end, though, her mother, Ange, sent him packing, furious not only at his failure to provide financially for ...

The New World: Comics from Mauretania by Chris Reynolds – review

These unsettling sci‑fi stories by a cult Welsh artist deserve wider attention

Strictly speaking, The New World is not new. All the comics included in it have been published before; the earliest date from the 1980s. But in another, more important way, it is entirely novel. Designed and edited by Seth of Palookaville fame, and luxuriously published by New York Review Books, it gathers together between hard covers a variety of work by Chris Reynolds, the cult Welsh-born artist who remains both underrated and too little known. The result is a collection that isn’t only beautiful to look at and to hold; turning its pages, it strikes you that though these ineffably strange strips were written in another time, they work better in ours. Here, after all, is a world where technology must be treated with suspicion, workers perform random jobs whose nature is essentially pointless, and loneliness ...

Nick Drnaso, the graphic novelist behind the ‘masterpiece’ Sabrina

Praised by Zadie Smith, Drnaso’s powerful graphic novel Sabrina tackles the most pressing questions of our age. Here, he talks about the book’s debt to film, and to his own paranoia

Read a two-page extract from Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina

Where is Sabrina? Nick Drnaso’s second graphic novel begins as a mystery: a woman is missing, and no one is able to find her. Pretty soon, though, it becomes clear that his interest doesn’t lie so much with Sabrina’s fate as with the impact her death will have on those close to her: in particular, on Sandra, her sister, and on Teddy, her boyfriend. What happens, Drnaso wants to know, when the victim of a highly publicised violent crime is someone you love?

Teddy, all at sea, moves west to stay with a guy he knew in childhood, Calvin Wrobel, a serviceman, newly separated from his wife and child, ...

Modernists & Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters by Martin Gayford – review

A superb biography of the postwar painters whose fresh techniques and ideas energised art captures their resolve – and the bond between them

In 1942, which is roughly when Martin Gayford’s capacious new survey of postwar art begins, London was partially in ruins, many of its streets reduced to piles of rubble and buckled iron. “The silence, the absolute dead silence,” remembered Graham Sutherland of his first encounter with such desolation (commissioned by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee to record the devastation of the blitz, he had travelled into the city from his house in Kent). Its buildings seemed to him to resemble living, suffering creatures; a lift shaft, twisted and yet still clearly visible in the remains of one structure, looked like “a wounded tiger in a painting by Delacroix”. Where, though, did art fit among all this? Even as Sutherland sketched, this must have seemed an impossible, not ...

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean – review

Dean’s group biography of female writers who dared speak their mind is a great and worthy project

In recent years, the group biography has become a spirited mainstay of the publishing landscape: a means both of revisiting and reinterpreting already familiar times, people and places, and of bringing together between hard covers lives that might not be deserving of an individual doorstop. In Sharp, though, Michelle Dean has assembled not so much a group as a small crowd: her book, with its title that brings to mind suddenly puckered lips, has the feeling of a cocktail party at which several people drink too much, nearly everyone talks too loudly, and no one really likes anyone else. Through this gathering, she wanders, ashtray in one hand, dishcloth in the other. Dean relishes her guests’ bad behaviour – you might call her a little starstruck – but only to a degree. ...

The Drunken Sailor by Nick Hayes review – intense beauty

A wondrous visual narrative based on the translation of a seafaring poem by a teenage Arthur Rimbaud

It is now seven years since Nick Hayes published The Rime of the Modern Mariner, his amazing recasting of Coleridge’s poem about an old sea-dog who kills an albatross, and thus causes a terrible curse to fall upon his ship (in Hayes’s version – a kind of environmental cautionary tale – the bird is strangled by the fine nylon of a fishing net). At the time, stunned by its accomplishment, I remember thinking: how on earth will he follow this? Dreamily, I pictured a graphic version of Wordsworth’s The Prelude, all looming mountains and tiny boats – and, perhaps for this reason, I wasn’t remotely surprised when the time began slowly to tick by without any sign of a sequel (although he did publish the wordless Cormorance in 2016).

But, no. ...

The Drunken Sailor by Nick Hayes review – intense beauty

A wondrous visual narrative based on the translation of a seafaring poem by a teenage Arthur Rimbaud

It is now seven years since Nick Hayes published The Rime of the Modern Mariner, his amazing recasting of Coleridge’s poem about an old sea-dog who kills an albatross, and thus causes a terrible curse to fall upon his ship (in Hayes’s version – a kind of environmental cautionary tale – the bird is strangled by the fine nylon of a fishing net). At the time, stunned by its accomplishment, I remember thinking: how on earth will he follow this? Dreamily, I pictured a graphic version of Wordsworth’s The Prelude, all looming mountains and tiny boats – and, perhaps for this reason, I wasn’t remotely surprised when the time began slowly to tick by without any sign of a sequel (although he did publish the wordless Cormorance in 2016).

But, no. ...

Leslie Jamison: ‘Why was life such a barren tundra if I wasn’t drinking?’

As her memoir about her years as a high-functioning alcoholic is published, the author talks about drinking, writing and why she finally chose sobriety

• Read an extract from Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering

The American writer Leslie Jamison is the bestselling author of the acclaimed essay collection The Empathy Exams (2014). She grew up in Los Angeles, read English at Harvard, studied for her MFA in creative writing at the Iowa Workshop, and has a PhD from Yale, where her thesis looked at addiction and sincerity in 20th-century American literature. She now lives in New York, where she teaches at Columbia University, with her husband, the writer Charles Bock, her stepdaughter, and their three-month-old baby daughter.

Her new book, The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, describes her struggle with alcoholism, as well as that of key literary figures such as Elizabeth Bishop and John Cheever. But its main focus ...

Lionel Shriver: ‘Few writers are willing to put themselves on the line for free speech’

The US novelist talks about her new property-themed collection of stories and the danger of bandwagons

Lionel Shriver is a US writer and journalist whose novels include So Much For That, The Post-Birthday World, The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 and the bestselling We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange prize and was turned into a film by Lynne Ramsay, starring Tilda Swinton. In 2014, she won the BBC national short story award. She lives in London and Brooklyn. Her latest book is Property, a themed collection of stories and two novellas.

Were the stories in your new book written by design to be read alongside one another or did they just accrue over time?
I’d written the novella, The Subletter, and wanted to give it a home. So you could say they were accrued by design: every time I got a commission, ...

Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain review – fascinating and frustrating

Rose Tremain’s account of her unhappy upper-class childhood, from postwar London to Swiss finishing school, is more intriguing than revealing

Memoir is a peculiar thing: better than a second martini when it’s good – like that cocktail, it can make you feel at once slightly jittery and all-seeing, all-knowing – and absolutely rotten when it’s bad; as synthetic as a can of Red Bull, as pointless as a pint of cheap lager. Writers, though, seem more and more to be unable to resist it – a side-effect, perhaps, of our culture’s increasingly stubborn conflation of thought and feeling. Some devote themselves to it right from the beginning of their careers, to the exclusion of every other form (you wonder at the size of the trunk in which they lug about all these memories). Others, valuing wisdom and perspective over simple sensation, leave it until much later.

Rose Tremain, who ...

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke review – an appetite for destruction

Kristen Radtke’s restless memoir of her search for abandoned places is like Planet of the Apes as told by Shelley

At the end of Planet of the Apes (accept no imitations: I mean the 1968 version), Charlton Heston, who plays an astronaut called Taylor, rides off into the distance. “What will he find out there?” wonders one ape. “His destiny,” replies another. In the next moment, we see the actor in shadow, on a bleak-looking shoreline. “Oh my God,” he says, recognition clouding his face. “I’m back. I’m home.” His voice cracks. He falls to his knees. The planet of the apes, he has realised, is Earth, destroyed in a nuclear war while he was off in space – and he is one of the last humans to walk its surface.

I thought of this scene more than once as I read Kristen Radtke’s graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This...

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke review – an appetite for destruction

Kristen Radtke’s restless memoir of her search for abandoned places is like Planet of the Apes as told by Shelley

At the end of Planet of the Apes (accept no imitations: I mean the 1968 version), Charlton Heston, who plays an astronaut called Taylor, rides off into the distance. “What will he find out there?” wonders one ape. “His destiny,” replies another. In the next moment, we see the actor in shadow, on a bleak-looking shoreline. “Oh my God,” he says, recognition clouding his face. “I’m back. I’m home.” His voice cracks. He falls to his knees. The planet of the apes, he has realised, is Earth, destroyed in a nuclear war while he was off in space – and he is one of the last humans to walk its surface.

I thought of this scene more than once as I read Kristen Radtke’s graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This...

Ian Buruma: ‘Fascist rhetoric is creeping back into the mainstream’

The editor of the New York Review of Books on Trump, Brexit – and A Tokyo Romance, his memoir of life in Japan where he once went on stage as Hitler in a jockstrap

People are often precisely who you imagine them to be. Just think of Donald Trump. But sometimes, more rarely, they are not. What did I know of the writer Ian Buruma before I met him? Well, I knew that he was half Dutch and half British. I had read some of his books, which I’d admired for their meticulousness and intelligence – particularly the unnervingly prescient Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance – without ever quite loving them, perhaps because, on the page, he gives so little of himself. I had also noticed that in the relatively short space of time since he succeeded Robert B Silvers as ...

In Byron’s Wake by Miranda Seymour – the Lord’s ladies

Byron’s wife and daughter - Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace – can’t escape the shadow of the great libertine in this in-depth account of their lives

On 18 September 1814, Lord Byron was dining at his house, Newstead Abbey, with his apothecary and Augusta Leigh, the half-sister with whom he had recently had a baby daughter, when a gardener brought in his late mother’s wedding ring, disinterred from a nearby flowerbed. The man’s timing was eerie. Also delivered to the breakfast table that fateful morning was a letter from a clever and impetuous heiress called Annabella Milbanke in which she accepted his (somewhat grudging) proposal of marriage. Seeing both, the superstitious Byron turned a little white – though his shivery mood seems to have had no effect on his acerbity. “It never rains but it pours,” he is reported to have said, on reading Milbanke’s note.

Thus was a doomed marriage sealed – though ...