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New non–fiction for May 2014

Written by · Published Apr 28, 2014

An encyclopaedia of myself by Jonathan Meades

An encyclopaedia of myself by Jonathan Meades

The fifties are not grey in Jonathan Meades’s memoir – they’re luridly polychromatic. They were peopled by embittered grotesques, bogus majors, reckless bohos, pompous boors, suicides.

Death went dogging everywhere. Salisbury, where he was brought up, had two industries: God and the Cold War, both of which provided a cast of adults for the child to scrutinise with wonder and fear.

A curious career by Lynn Barber

Lynn Barber, by her own admission, has always suffered from a compelling sense of nosiness. An exceptionally inquisitive child she constantly questioned everyone she knew about intimate details of their lives. This talent for nosiness, coupled with her unusual lack of the very English fear of social embarrassment, is the perfect blend for a celebrity interviewer.

Barber takes us through her early career at Penthouse where she started out interviewing foot fetishists, voyeurs, dominatrices and worse, through her later more eminent career at the Telegraph, Sunday Times, Vanity Fair, Observer and Sunday Times.

The skeleton cupboard: A memoir by Tanya Byron

Professor Tanya Byron’s account of her final years of training as a clinical psychologist, when trainees find themselves in the toughest placements of their careers. Through the eyes of her naive and inexperienced younger self, Tanya shares the remarkable cases of key patients and their treatment.

Dirty Bertie: An English king made in France by Stephen Clarke

A biography of Edward VII and his playboy lifestyle. Despite fierce opposition from his mother, Queen Victoria, Edward VII was always passionately in love with France.

He had affairs with the most famous Parisian actresses, courtesans and can-can dancers. He spoke French more elegantly than English. He was the first ever guest to climb the Eiffel Tower with Gustave Eiffel, in defiance of an official English ban on his visit. He turned his French seduction skills into the diplomatic prowess that sealed the Entente Cordiale.

A quintessentially English king? Pas du tout! Stephen Clarke argues that as ‘Dirty Bertie’, Edward learned all the essentials in life from the French.

The fly trap by Fredrik Sjoberg

Warm, funny and insightful, a meditation on collecting; be it hoverflies or fine art.

It begins with Sjoberg’s own tranquil experience as an entomologist on a remote island in Sweden, and takes in heroic historical expeditions to Burma and the wilderness of Kamchatka. Along the way, Sjoberg pauses to reflect on a range of ideas – slowness, art, freedom – drawing great writers, like D.H Lawrence and Bruce Chatwin, into dialogue.

From the everyday to the exotic, The Fly Trap revels in the wonder of the natural world and leaves a trail of memorable images and stories.

Hippy dinners: A memoir of a rural childhood by Abbie Ross

In 1972 Abbie Ross’s cosmopolitan parents move the family from London to rural North Wales, exchanging a town house in Islington for a remote farmhouse on a hill. Abbie’s Liverpudlian grandparents – dedicated followers of Liberace, sleek in scented mohair and patent leather – are sure they’ve lost their minds. For Abbie, though, the only cloud on the horizon is the nearby hippy commune and its inhabitants.

Brandon King

I work in the Suffolk Libraries Stock Team