Book news

  • Spinning by Tillie Walden review – portrait of adolescence on ice
    Rachel Cooke

    An intimate graphic memoir of competitive skating feels like a coming-of-age classic

    Spinning, the fourth book in two years by the Ignatz award-winning cartoonist Tillie Walden, is surely her best to date. A memoir of the decade Walden spent as a competitive skater – having taken to the ice as a small girl, she did not abandon it until shortly before she graduated from high school – it conveys brilliantly not only the dedication involved in mid-level competitive sport, but also the occasional (and sometimes more-than-occasional) loathing. In a longish afterword, Walden, the acclaimed author of The End of Summer, insists that her latest comic “ended up not being about ice-skating at all”. But I disagree. Yes, Spinning touches on bullying, her complex relationship with her parents, and her sexuality (for which reason it would, I think, make a brilliant Christmas present for a teenage girl). Nevertheless, the rink is always centre stage. How could it be anywhere else when it’s the place she goes both to lose and to find herself?

    Related: Tillie Walden: young graphic novelist breaks the ice with memoir Spinning

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  • The Box of Delights review – festive treat lifts the lid on a world of wonders
    Michael Billington

    Wilton’s Music Hall, London
    Matthew Kelly plays good and evil spirits in a magical, visually arresting adaptation of John Masefield’s classic children’s book

    Related: Long before Harry Potter, The Box of Delights remade children’s fantasy

    After two seasons of homespun Roy Hudd panto, this Victorian gem of a theatre brings us a relatively neglected children’s classic: a 1935 novel by John Masefield that, although seen on BBC TV in the 1980s, was new to me. In Piers Torday’s adaptation it provides an unexpected treat in its ability to combine ancient rituals with futuristic fantasy.

    Related: Five Little Christmas Monkeys review – maths plus music equals magic

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  • The Story of the Face by Paul Gorman review – the original purveyor of cool
    Ekow Eshun

    Revolutionary style bible the Face deserves a more spirited history

    In September 1988, the style magazine the Face celebrated its 100th issue in triumphal fashion. There was an elaborate fold-out cover, essays by star writers such as Nick Kent and Julie Burchill and fashion stories by leading photographers including Mario Testino and Nick Knight, their contributions all testament to the magazine’s dazzling international profile. “Every art director in New York and Tokyo has to have the Face now,” declared cultural commentator Peter York. “Magazine of the decade,” the publication itself trumpeted on the cover.

    Behind the scenes the mood was less bullish. The magazine’s founder and editor, Nick Logan, was considering ceasing publication, out of concern that a second 100 issues might not match the quality of the first. Logan eventually relented. But the fact that he contemplated closing down the title at the height of its fortunes is a telling insight into his high standards. It’s also an indication of why, 13 years after its eventual demise in 2004, the Face retains a reputation as one of the most influential magazines in British publishing history.

    Related: How we made the Face

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