In 4 Books, we ask an author to answer 4 questions on the books that made them — on those books that made a significant impact at distinct junctures of their lives.
It might be the book that guided them through a break up, the one that they press urgently into a friends’ hand, the book that best articulates love, or the book that opened up the world in a startling new way.
‘The thing to remember about this story is that every word is true. If I never told it to a soul, and this book did not exist, it would not cease to be true. I don’t mind at all if you forget this. The important thing is that I don’t.’
On a hot still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead’s life changed for ever.
‘I hope that it adds up to a new way of thinking about who we have been, and who we are now’
Andrew Marr’s new book, We British: The Poetry of a People is out now, published by 4th Estate Books. The British have never had a musical tradition to rival that of Russia or Germany; or the gloriously exuberant architecture of Paris or Rome; or the coherent worldview of classical China. What they have had is the richest and most remarkable tradition of poetry of any major culture. This book is an attempt to use British poetry as the framework for a kind of alternative epic, the story of what it was like to be British, told through poetry, and sometimes through the stories of the poets.
Bruce Robinson’s new book, They All Love Jack: Busting The Ripper is out now, published by 4th Estate Books. For over a hundred years, ‘the mystery of Jack the Ripper’ has been a source of unparalleled fascination and horror, spawning an army of obsessive theorists, and endless volumes purporting finally to reveal the identity of the brutal murderer who terrorised Victorian England. But what if there was never really any ‘mystery’ at all? What if the Ripper was always hiding in plain sight, deliberately leaving a trail of clues to his identity for anyone who cared to look, while cynically mocking those who were supposedly attempting to bring him to justice?