The editors' blog
~ Posted by Simon Willis, April 23rd 2014
Earlier this month, more than 700 people packed into the Union Chapel in Islington to hear Eleanor Catton interviewed by Robert Macfarlane. Last year Catton, who is 28, became the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize, with her novel "The Luminaries". Macfarlane, who writes the Landscapes of the Mind column in Intelligent Life, was chairman of the judges who awarded it to her. It was, as the travel writer Colin Thubron said as he introduced Catton and Macfarlane, "a unique interview"—not least because Macfarlane must be the only person in the world to have read the novel's 800 pages four times. They began by talking about the coastal landscape of "The Luminaries" (which Macfarlane had just written about in his column), before moving on to the book's intricate astrological structure, the psychology of Jung, and how love and money are opposites.read more »
~ Posted by Samantha Ellis, April 18th 2014
I’ve long had a hunch that "Jamaica Inn" was Daphne du Maurier’s gift to "Wuthering Heights" fans who had got into trouble trying to find their own Heathcliffs. While Emily Brontë makes Cathy Earnshaw choose between bad, irresistible Heathcliff and milquetoast Edgar, du Maurier gives her heroine Mary Yellan a better choice. Just as it looks like Mary might fall for Joss Merlyn, who’s not just a hard-drinking, rotten-hearted ship-wrecker but also her uncle by marriage, along comes his brother Jem, a sexy horse thief, who is wild and wicked, but also hopeful and kind. So my first question about the BBC’s new adaptation is: are Joss and Jem sufficiently fanciable?read more »
~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, April 17th 2014
INTELLIGENT TUNES: six good songs for your iPod
Elbow: New York Morning. Subtle, stirring, excellent.read more »
Asgeir: Torrent. Rousing folk-pop from Iceland’s bright new star. His album, “In the Silence”, is outstanding.
Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots. Refreshingly odd.
Darlene Love: Lean on Me. One of many reasons why “20 Feet from Stardom”, the tale of Love and other backing singers, deserves its Oscar.
Joan As Police Woman: The Classic. Time for something we didn’t know we were waiting for: the doo-wop revival.
Neneh Cherry: Across the Water. Just voice, drums and a rap, which turns into a beautifully stark ballad.
~ Posted by Melanie Grant, April 16th 2014
For one week every spring, the usually slumberous Swiss town of Basel gets wound right up. Baselworld, the biggest watch and jewellery fair on earth, sets up its stalls: the Time Lords have come to town.read more »
~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, April 11th 2014
As journalists we are naturally fond of punctuation. Following our latest Big Question, we have discovered that readers of Intelligent Life are too. Our question was seemingly benign: what is the best punctuation mark? But those strange little squiggles kindled some high passions. We asked six writers to pen a plea for their favourite, and then invited readers to vote in our online poll. Each had its cheerleaders, but there was one champion: the semi-colon. It’s invaluable for “those of us whose thoughts digress”, said the novelist Claire Messud. 27% of voters also can’t live without it.read more »
~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, April 10th 2014
Some people like to do up a whole home in one go if they can; others just change the carpet one year and the bathroom the next. It’s much the same with magazines. Intelligent Life has not had a redesign since it went quarterly in 2007, but the look and feel have evolved quite a bit, along with the contents (and the frequency). For this issue we’ve made a change which may already have hit you between the eyes, because it involves our front door.
~ Posted by Anthony Gardner, April 7th 2014
A few months ago I reported on a talk about sleep at the How To Academy in London which suggested four basic rules. The subject obviously struck a chord—or perhaps a midnight chime—with readers, for it proved to be one of the most popular articles on the website in 2013. But the organisers, John Gordon and Frances Wilson, felt that speaker had "failed to engage" with the bleary-eyed attendees by not asking us about our own insomnia, so we were all recently invited back to hear another expert, Dr Guy Meadows, head of the Sleep School.read more »
~ Posted by Robert Butler, April 4th 2014
When Eleanor Catton gives talks in public, which she did at the Union Chapel in London on Thursday night (and which she's been doing much more often since winning the Man Booker prize), she doesn't mention her mum. She knows her mum would hate that sort of thing. But she does mention her dad—which is how we know that he gave her a theme and an all-important link.
Catton was talking to Robert Macfarlane, chair of the judges who last October awarded her the prize, in front of an audience of 750, plenty of whom were twice her age. During the time when she was writing "The Luminaries", she said, her dad, who was a lecturer in philosophy, was becoming increasingly dismayed by the "corporatisation" of his university (students were rebranded as "customers") and eventually he resigned. One of the major themes of her huge second novel—which depicts the gold rush in New Zealand in the 1860s—is "the capitalisation of the world".read more »
~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, April 2nd 2014
BBC2’s delightful sitcom, “Rev”, has just taken one of the biggest risks a sitcom can take. In its third series, it still focuses on an East London vicar’s struggles to fill his empty pews, but it has given the vicar and his wife a baby. What’s risky about this is that sitcom babies are so infuriatingly unconvincing. They tend to be magical beings, who, like Jeeves, materialise when they’re needed and vanish when they’re not. Their parents have as much free time as ever. Anyone who’s ever had, or met, or heard of a baby will know how unlike real life this is.read more »
~ Posted by Samantha Ellis, March 31st 2014
On my way to the Daunt Books Spring Festival to hear about The Bloomsbury Cookbook, I realised it was March 28th, the day Virginia Woolf took her own life in 1941. For a moment I felt ghoulish, but then I started thinking about all the food in Woolf’s books (the partridges with “their retinue of sauces and salads” in "A Room of One’s Own"; Bernard in "The Waves" “scoop[ing] out the bottom crumpet, that has absorbed all the butter”; Mrs Ramsay’s boeuf en daube in "To the Lighthouse") and how miserable Woolf was on the infamous “rest cure”, with its enforced consumption of raw beef soup and four pints of milk a day. And I thought that maybe March 28th might be a good day to find out about Woolf’s relish for food and life.read more »