£20) Gordon Burn’s sudden death last year was both a shock and an immense loss to British letters. Over the course of a wide and varied career he wrote novels about old age and nostalgia, non-fiction works about the Yorkshire Ripper and Fred West and a host of crossgenre books using subjects such as the rise of snooker to look into the changing face of Britain.
This collection of essays about modern art was the last thing he worked on and, for better or worse, it will stand as a testimony to this great writer.
What comes across in these essays, which include interviews with everyone from Andy Warhol to Peter Blake to Damien Hirst (who was a big fan of Burn), is Burn’s scathing intelligence, his dry wit and estimable way with language. This is a fine tribute to a writer whose work will radiate far beyond his own life.