In brief: Every Good Boy Does Fine; Islanders; Sentient – review

Pianist Jeremy Denk’s insightful memoir, tales of Guernsey life by Cathy Thomas and Jackie Higgins’s vivid exploration of the senses

Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Love Story, in Music Lessons

Jeremy Denk
Picador, £20, pp384

Denk is one of America’s most celebrated classical pianists. In this illuminating and wise memoir, he charts his journey from schoolboy prodigy through years of gruelling study to his eventual success. He is perceptive about the unique relationship between teacher and pupil and candid about the realities of intense practice. Bringing intelligence and insight to aspects of music, the memoir is shot through with humanity and wit. It’s a joy to read.

Islanders

Cathy Thomas
Virago, £14.99, pp224

Thomas’s assured debut story collection follows a dozen closely linked characters on Guernsey over the course of 20 years. This is not the Guernsey of picturesque seaside holidays, but, rather, the grimy underside of island life, with its social and economic deprivation: teenage girls have sex with inappropriate partners, drugs are dealt, young men struggle to explore their sexuality. And yet, underpinning all this is a deep human desire to connect with others and Thomas writes with compassion and humanity.

Sentient: What Animals Reveal About Our Senses

Jackie Higgins
Picador, £9.99, pp352 (paperback)

In a fascinating exploration of human and animal senses, film-maker Higgins investigates the zoological world to reveal extraordinary tales of evolution that have enabled creatures to develop remarkably complex senses, such as the star-nosed mole, which can barely see and yet has an incredible sense of touch that makes it a fearsome hunter. Like the best popular science writing, Sentient is enlightening and accessible, rewarding the reader with a sense of awe at the natural world.

• To order Every Good Boy Does Fine, Islanders or Sentient go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

Contributor

Hannah Beckerman

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
In brief: Stay With Me; Eat the Apple; Trajectory – review
Nigerian novelist Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s vivid debut, an inventive Iraq memoir from Matt Young and an introduction to the genius of Richard Russo

Ben East

18, Feb, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
In brief: Splinters: A Memoir; Fervour; Elderflora: A Modern History of Ancient Trees – review
A jolting memoir of motherhood, a gripping debut novel about family politics and faith, and a fascinating study of our relationship with ancient trees

Hephzibah Anderson

11, Feb, 2024 @3:00 PM

Article image
In brief: The Details; Uprooting; Ponies at the Edge of the World – review
A feverish novel about memory and relationships; a gardener’s attempt to put down roots; and how Shetland reshaped a researcher’s view of nature and community

Hephzibah Anderson

27, Aug, 2023 @4:00 PM

Article image
In brief: Whale Fall; The Beauty of Falling; My Friend Anne Frank – review
An impressive coming of age novel set on a Welsh island; a physicist’s lifelong obsession with gravity; and the harrowing story of a Holocaust survivor

Hannah Beckerman

21, Apr, 2024 @9:00 AM

Article image
In brief: States of Passion; Unnatural Causes; Devil’s Day – reviews
A story of passion in Syria’s golden age; a compassionate memoir by a leading pathologist; and a tension-filled gothic horror

Hannah Beckerman

16, Sep, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
In brief: Games and Rituals; Friendaholic; The Women Who Saved the English Countryside – reviews
Katherine Heiny’s sparky, bittersweet tales of love; Elizabeth Day’s generous memoir about friendship; and a fastidious study of four nature campaigners

Hephzibah Anderson

09, Apr, 2023 @3:00 PM

Article image
In brief: Good Intentions, Tickets for the Ark, Crying in H Mart – review
Racial tensions as a romance falters; an ecologist asks hard questions about extinction; and a woman reconnects to her Korean heritage through food

Hannah Beckerman

27, Feb, 2022 @4:00 PM

Article image
In brief: The Seduction; Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls; James and Nora – review
A brave memoir on love and addiction

Hannah Beckerman

21, Jun, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
In brief: A Good Enough Mother; Character Breakdown; Take Nothing With You – review
A thoughtful novel from Bev Thomas, a keenly observed memoir from Zawe Ashton and a poignant coming-of-age tale from Patrick Gale

Hannah Beckerman

28, Apr, 2019 @12:00 PM

Article image
In brief: Five Tuesdays in Winter; The Treeline; Islands of Abandonment – review
A short story collection full of emotional epiphanies, an investigation into trees on the move, and an exploration of abandoned places

Hannah Beckerman

02, Jan, 2022 @3:00 PM