Dark Waters: The Expedition Trilogy, Book 1, by Jason Lewis, Billyfish Books, RRP£12, 224 pages
When Jason Lewis set off on the first human-powered circumnavigation of the earth he thought it would take three years. It took 13. In that time he almost died several times: by drowning, car crash, crocodile attack. But he never gave up and we are lucky he survived to write Dark Waters.
He rode a bicycle across Europe to Portugal, pedalled a specially made small boat across the Atlantic – sweating so much that maggots took up residence in his seat – and rollerbladed across half of the US, where he was badly injured by a hit-and-run driver on a remote road and left for dead with two broken legs.
This tightly-written tale is the first of a trilogy of Lewis’s impecunious adventures in one of the last great human endeavours and it rollicks along at a great pace. The other books tell of his pedalling across the Pacific, riding across Asia, cycling across Africa and his return to a rapturous welcome at Greenwich.
Review by Martin Brice
Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein, by Jonathan Cott, OUP USA, RRP£16.99, 192 pages
According to Jonathan Cott, a reporter for Rolling Stone, as Leonard Bernstein’s funeral procession wound its way through Manhattan in October 1990, construction workers doffed their hard hats shouting, “Goodbye, Lenny!”
Rarely has a composer or conductor enjoyed such public adulation and this lovely little book goes some way towards explaining why Bernstein did. A transcription of the “last long interview” with him, conducted in the year before his death, it captures Bernstein on sparkling form. He’s just as happy talking about Keats and The Beatles as he is Mahler and Beethoven. There’s always another record to play and another memory to revisit (including the time he smuggled 21 friends into a White House gala). And whenever there’s a lull, Bernstein’s refrain is unfailing: “Let’s have another glass of wine!”
Dinner with Lenny is an evocative tribute, not just to Bernstein’s musical gifts but to his ever-active mind.
Review by Orlando Bird
Nordic Noir, by Barry Forshaw, Pocket Essentials, RRP£7.99, 160 pages
Readers wanting to get into Scandinavian crime fiction should start with Forshaw’s pocket guide to the genre, Nordic Noir. Forshaw, a crime fiction and film writer, includes both books and recent popular Scandi detective series and film in his analysis.
Many new to Nordic noir begin with Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck books, then move on to Stieg Larsson. Forshaw explores the legacy of Lisbeth Salander, especially the paradoxical scenes of graphic sexual violence from an author of unquestionable feminist credentials. He also looks at Larsson’s rivals and successors, and the dark power of Nordic prose. If you want to be kept awake at night, I’d recommend Yrsa Sigurdardóttir’s I Remember You.
With Wallander TV star Krister Henriksson now starring in the West End, the trend for dark doings in bleak landscapes is set to continue beyond Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo.
Review by Christopher Fowler