Bound & Flogged

This week's best in literature from Updike's essays on art to Kern's infamous portraits

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The Last Days of Detroit by Mark Binelli

NEW BOOK OF THE WEEK: Y by Marjorie Celona (Faber)

Marjorie Celona’s debut presents another case in point for why Canadian women are at the top of their game right now, with Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be? paving the way thanks to its unbridled accounts of sex, love and relationships. is as thorough an exploration of the struggles faced by those possessing its namesake’s chromosome as we have read since then. In its rendition of protagonist Shannon’s life following her abandonment as a baby, left on the steps of a YMCA, it considers a dysfunctional childhood against the backdrop of a mother subject to her own mistreatment. 

NON-FICTION OF THE WEEK: The Last Days of Detroit by Mark Binelli (Bodley Head)

Who hasn’t gone mad for those photos of Detroit in ruin? Like Athens or Rome, the city stands as a warning to all metropolises of where they're headed once nature regains control. Here Binelli places all that within the context of a democracy that rose and fell in epic measure and considers whether or not the city can be revived during the twenty-first Century.

ART BOOK OF THE WEEK: Always Looking by John Updike (Random House)

You won’t find seapunk GIFs here, more the old guys no one seems to talk about anymore: Monet, Degas and everyone’s favourite American landscape oil painter, Freidrich Church. And while placing American modernism within a wider tradition originated by the European masters might not have you racing to Waterstones, Always Looking - much like its precursors, Just Looking and Still Looking - is an unmissable essay from one of the twentieth century's most dependable and best-loved writers.

POETRY BOOK OF THE WEEK: Philip Larkin Poems (paperback) (Faber)

Until now, Martin Amis’ hand picked Philip Larkin has been a treat best served indoors. Thanks to the paperback edition printed by Faber this week however, those al fresco poetry recitals you were planning for Spring have just got a whole lot better (I'm looking at you, in the velvet waistcoat and hat). Alternatively, those of us who just happen to like Larkin can now read this perfect collection, comprising the best-known and more atypical works, on the tube or you know, in Costa.

PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK OF THE WEEK: Action by Richard Kern (Taschen)        

Err… strictly this isn’t a new book (it was published in 2007) but with the arrival of his new one, Shot by Kern, just over a month away, we're finding it difficult to think about much else. We don’t know what it is about Kern’s work that has us gawping. Something about nudity mixed with overtones of submission, perhaps… If you’re into/not offended by that sort of thing then get your hands on this one - packed full of babes exhibiting god’s great artwork - and wait with bated breath for the arrival of Kern’s latest offering in March.

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