The Winds of Winter
George R.R. Martin
Harper Voyager, 1806 pp.
After seven long years of waiting, we finally have George R.R. Martin’s new instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. American fantasy author Martin shocked his fans by killing off all characters in the very first chapter, and devoting the rest of the book to essays on the female anatomy and manuals on facial hair grooming.
The ORB says: Not for the squeamish, 4/10.
Don Quixote – 80th Anniversary Edition
Penguin, 883 pp.
This splendid anniversary version of Menard’s famous picaresque novel comes bound in horse fur, with a miniature steel lance for holding open the hefty pages. Menard is a peerlessly original and inventive writer, but unfortunately the critical apparatus surrounding the text here is mixed in quality – in particular, the introduction by one J.L.B. leaves much to be desired.
The ORB says: ¡Dios mío!, 2/10.
8 7 6 5
Faber & Faber, 4352 pp.
The highly anticipated sequel to Auster’s 4 3 2 1 (2017), this novel delves into the metafiction for which the Brooklyn-dwelling Auster is so famous. Each chapter is divided into four parts, and each follows the many possible worlds of novelist Aul Pauster as he writes four different books: 4, 3, 2 and 1. Critics who complain that this is simply a reprint of 4 3 2 1 may be missing the sublime subtlety of Auster’s literary magic.
The ORB says: Never have we regretted more that the integers are infinite, 8/10.
Against Universal Grammar
Penguin, 311 pp.
A surprising volte-face from the octogenarian linguist-turned-political activist. Here, Chomsky argues that universal grammar is ‘a farce’ and ‘nonsense’, denouncing its proponents as ‘cultish’. Written with Chomsky’s characteristic panache, an added bonus of this handsome tome from Penguin its paper made from the sustainable tree species syntaxicus arboris.
The ORB says: Be on the lookout for April’s hotly anticipated follow-up from Pope Francis, ‘The Problem with Catholicism’, 7/10.
Hodder, 674 pp.
It has long been reported that Byron’s diaries were burned by John Murray in 1824. However, the manuscript was discovered in a wall cavity in Chelsea last year, and this edited edition makes surprising revelations about the libertine poet. For example, we learn that Byron’s “club foot” was in fact caused by being overfond of golf, and that during his time at Trinity College, his pet bear ate no fewer than 14 scouts.
The ORB says: Best read lying on the beach at Messolonghi, 9/10.
Love’s Labour’s Won
The Oxford Shakespeare, 246 pp.
Shakespeare’s “lost” play was discovered in the attic of a Hebridean lighthouse last November, and bardolaters have been in a frenzy ever since. In the comedy, the young Hamthello discovers that his donkey has been transmuted into a tyrannical king. The witches responsible force Hamthello to undergo several trials, including a blind tasting of Donkey hairs from three caskets, and modelling in a stocking fashion show, before his beloved ass is returned to his natural form.
The ORB says: Not quite the comeback we hoped for, 3/10.