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Spectator books of the year: Molly Guinness on the inspiring Oliver Sacks

24 November 2015

3:40 PM

24 November 2015

3:40 PM

Oliver Sacks’s autobiography On the Move (Picador, £20) is full of surprising details —for example, the eminent neurologist was a weightlifting champion in his youth who hung out with Hells Angels. Sacks — who died in August — was an inspiring person with an extraordinary breadth of interests and enthusiasms. I also enjoyed Anne Tyler’s family portrait A Spool of Blue Thread (Vintage, £7.99). People have criticised Tyler for being too gentle, but actually she has the rapier wit of a true satirist. You know exactly how awful one character is because she has soft shoes and insists on calling her mother-in-law Mother Whitshank.

Monsters by Emerald Fennell (Hot Key Books, £7.99) is absolutely great. It’s about two appalling children, a sinister seaside holiday and a spate of murders. It’s gripping and astonishingly, gleefully dark.

This year everyone seems to be mad about Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. I disliked the narrator and her unlikely emotions, but worse still, the author sets up a mystery at the beginning and then never bothers to give a satisfactory explanation: totally unacceptable.


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