SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Matt Thorne

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November 15, 2018
The End by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Harvill Secker, 1,153pp, £25/$49.95 The English translation of The End, the final volume of the celebrated Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s epic six-novel sequence My Struggle, confirms something Norwegian critics and readers have told us for some time but British and American critics have struggled to believe: the scope
November 08, 2018
Matt Thorne finds some insight amid the waffle T&T Clark Companion to the Bible and Film Edited by Richard Walsh, Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 465pp, £89 According to Richard Walsh, the editor of this book, we are living through a golden age of biblical film. Alongside the films themselves – and the examples he gives in his
September 27, 2018
Just going back to typewriters isn’t enough, says Matt Thorne Democracy Hacked by Martin Moore, Oneworld, 336pp, £16.99 On June 29, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI joined the social media micro-blogging site Twitter. For Martin Moore, author of new book, Democracy Hacked: Political Turmoil and Information Warfare in the Digital Age, this was a significant moment,
September 06, 2018
Dante’s Divine Comedy by Ian Thomson, Head of Zeus, 280pp, £18.99 The notion of a literary canon is an unfashionable one. On English courses throughout the country long-forgotten books are being reconsidered alongside previously unassailable classics. Broadly speaking, I’m in favour of this, and can see the value in challenging how and why certain books
August 30, 2018
Dopesick by Beth Macy, Apollo, 384pp, £20 In 1895, heroin was readily available at any American drug store or by mail order. Babies were frequently prescribed medicine containing morphine, codeine, opium, cannabis indica and heroin, a mixture advertised as “containing nothing injurious to the youngest babe”. Most physicians were perfectly happy with this, but after
August 09, 2018
Martin Scorsese’s Divine Comedy by Catherine O’Brien, Bloomsbury, 224pp, £50 Of all living film directors whose work lends itself to a theological reading, four in particular immediately come to mind: Bruno Dumont, Terrence Malick, Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese. In her new book, film studies academic Catherine O’Brien looks at the last of these four
July 26, 2018
Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna, Canongate, 592pp, £25 While promoting his new book, the American film director David Lynch told the Guardian that Donald Trump “could go down as one of the greatest presidents in history”. This wasn’t the first time Lynch had spoken positively about a Republican leader, and in
July 05, 2018
Flannery O’Connor and Robert Giroux: a Publishing Partnership by Patrick Samway SJ, University of Notre Dame Press, 322pp, £38 In my academic position, I’m occasionally called upon to offer comments about my students’ novels and short stories to editors and agents. To my shame, I have yet to manage a summary as brilliant as that
May 17, 2018
The Devil’s Music by Randall Stephens, Harvard, 344pp, £22 Catholic priests emerge with honour from Randall Stephens’s new book, subtitled “How Christians Inspired, Condemned and Embraced Rock and Roll”. The Pentecostals and Evangelicals he writes about seem to be forever overreacting to music, torn between seeing it as the key to converting millions of the
April 12, 2018
Hitler and Film: the Führer’s Hidden Passion by Bill Niven, Yale, 312pp, £25 Bill Niven, the author of this new book on Hitler, is aware that his subject’s interest in the arts has been exhaustively documented. There have been books about what Hitler liked to read, his interest in architecture, and his passion for Wagnerian
February 01, 2018
Writer’s Luck: A Memoir 1976-199 by David Lodge, Harvill Secker, 400pp, £25 One afternoon when I was an undergraduate reading English at university, I showed up for a supervision and the academic I was meeting confessed he’d forgotten to read my essay. Rather than send me away, he suggested a game. We would take it
January 11, 2018
As a God Might Be by Neil Griffiths, Dodo Ink, 700pp, £12.99 Thirteen years ago, I received a proof copy of a debut novel entitled Betrayal in Naples by Neil Griffiths. Enclosed was a note saying his editor had moved on but had left instructions to get a copy to me before he went. Uh-oh,