Bloomsbury, £20, pp464
Alan Moore’s first short story collection covers 35 years of what The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s author calls his “ludicrous imaginings”. Across these nine stories, some of which can barely be called short, there’s a wonderful commitment to fantastical events in mundane towns. His old comic fans might enjoy What We Can Know About Thunderman the most, a spectacular tirade against a superhero industry corrupted from such lofty, inventive beginnings.
The World: A Family History
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Orion, £35, pp1,392
To tell a history of the world through its most influential families is a clever way to marshal thousands of years of humanity into some kind of sense and order. It’s also an incredible undertaking to treat the Nubian pharaohs or the Cromwells, the Bonapartes or the Trumps just the same, teasing out human tales amid the naked power and politics. Montefiore finds enduring resonances and offers new perspectives in these door-stopping 1,392 pages. Because these are family stories, he adeptly eschews traditionally male histories to find greater texture and diversity. A remarkable achievement.
From Manchester With Love
Faber, £12.99, pp624 (paperback)
There’s probably no better person to write a biography of “TV talking head, pop culture conceptualist, entrepreneur and bullshitter” Tony Wilson than Paul Morley, a man who formed an esoteric writing career in his Manchester orbit. Still, Morley immediately understands the pitfalls of this enterprise: he calls Wilson “beautiful, foolish, dogmatic, charming. Impossible.” This moving portrait of Manchester from the late 1970s onwards is richer, more complicated and thoughtful than mere biography; a history, of sorts, of a city long since passed into memory.
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