In Brief: A Year With Swollen Appendices; The Octopus Man; The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master – reviews

Brian Eno’s diary gets an anniversary reissue, Jasper Gibson’s new novel asks what normal really is, and Chris Clarke tells the modern left some home truths

A Year With Swollen Appendices
Brian Eno

Faber, £20, pp441

Brian Eno’s long out-of-print collection of essays taken from his diary for the year 1995 is rightly regarded as one of the seminal books about music. This 25th-anniversary reissue, complete with new introduction and up-to-date notes by Eno, is an invaluable insight into the mind and working practices of one of the industry’s undeniable geniuses, even if the ostentatious self-regard that he displays (“I have a wonderful life,” he boasts early on) seems harder to swallow now than it might have done in his heyday.

The Octopus Man
Jasper Gibson

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £14.99, pp269

At a time when society is concerned about issues of drug safety, Jasper Gibson’s bravura new novel is timely and revelatory. It concerns Tom, a once-promising law student who has become lost in the maze of the mental health system and the increasingly vivid hallucinations – or visions – that are plaguing his return to reality. If, of course, he ever wants to go back to the status quo. Gibson skilfully combines black comedy with a compassionate and searching examination of what madness is and whether “normal” life is itself a state of mind.

The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master
Chris Clarke

Penguin, £9.99, pp327

As Britain pats itself on the back in the belief that Trumpism, or a leftwing equivalent, couldn’t happen here, Chris Clarke’s thought-provoking examination of the populist issues that have bedevilled the modern left is a bracing corrective to such complacency. This dismantling of myths and memes alike, along with dispelling the belief that the left has any kind of monopoly on decency or morality, is an essential read and a reminder that Keir Starmer has quite a job on his hands.

• To order A Year With Swollen Appendices, The Octopus Man, or The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master go to Delivery charges may apply


Alexander Larman

The GuardianTramp

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