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Monday, October 3, 2022

In brief: Every Good Boy Does Fine; Islanders; Sentient – review | Autobiography and memoir

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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.

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.

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.

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