And thereby hangs a tail…

Cal Revely-Calder has just the book for a hor­ri­ble and in­evitable fes­tive hang­over

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - CONTENTS -

o be­gin with a se­ries and sub­ject that ap­par­ently have no end, the La­dy­bird “story of ” books are back. Their lat­est,

(La­dy­bird, £7.99) is im­pec­ca­bly demo­cratic: it puts the boot into all sides with equal vim. From snooty Re­mainer He­len to pipe-smok­ing Leaver Ver­non, you’ll prob­a­bly recog­nise ev­ery car­i­ca­ture from the ta­ble you have just es­caped.

Less bit­ing and more cere­bral is John Suther­land’s

(Reak­tion, £12). Suther­land brings the en­tire lit­er­ary canon into or­bit around the po­lit­i­cal black hole. Is Blake’s “Jerusalem” Brex­ity? (Sort of.) Is Ki­pling? (Not quite.) “Brexit” it­self is an ugly word, es­pe­cially when you hear it sev­eral times on ev­ery page, but since the rest of pub­lic life is lost in its vor­tex, why not lit­er­a­ture too?

Al­ter­na­tively, es­cape this green and pleas­ant land for a while with

(White Lion, £20). Travis El­bor­ough and map­maker Marvin Brown guide us across a se­ries of geo­graph­i­cal odd­i­ties, from an Aus­tralian lake the colour of straw­berry milk­shake to a Ja­panese is­land over­run by cats. The pho­tog­ra­phy is lus­cious and the text fas­ci­nat­ing.

More dis­tant yet, in both spa­tial and cul­tural terms, is Mar­tin Amis’s

(Jonathan Cape, £14.99). Out of print since the Eight­ies, it is a quirky guide to ar­cade games from Space In­vaders to Gorf. Amis’s style is loopy – “PacMan player, be not too proud nor too ma­cho, and you will pros­per on the dot­ted screen”.

If you can’t face 11 days of turkey sand­wiches, you could go se­ri­ously off-piste with

(Sum­mers­dale, £10.99) Our book of the year – and maybe of On­daatje’s ca­reer – this is both a ter­rif­i­cally tense spy thriller and a del­i­cate com­ing-ofage tale. (Jonathan Cape) by Alix Carey. Armed with only a ton of sugar and some fish-themed moulds, you can make all kinds of oceanic snacks, from “oc­to­pus arm” chur­ros to a “mer­tas­tic” milk­shake (be­low). You can even learn your own

“mer­maid name”, which is guar­an­teed to sound il­licit.

By con­trast, there’s noth­ing but in­no­cence in Josh Sut­ton’s

(Seven Di­als, £9.99), in­spired by the pic­nics in Enid Bly­ton’s Fa­mous Five tales. There are jam tarts, gin­ger bis­cuits, rab­bit stew and (the great­est great) an unironic use of the words “slap-up” and “scrummy”.

Bly­ton died in 1968, the same year that Clint East­wood and Richard Bur­ton starred in Where

Ea­gles Dare. Ge­off Dyer’s

(Pen­guin, £7.99) is a lov­ing lit­tle trib­ute to a film that, Dyer ad­mits, makes “no claims to be­ing a work of art”, but its “ob­du­rate power and age­less magic” are so pri­mally sat­is­fy­ing, that he can’t help but chat about it for 100 snappy pages.

If you poured your­self a drink at the start of this list, here’s one more for the next day. In (535, £16.99), Shaugh­nessy Bishop-Stall sets out in search of the drinker’s holy grail: a hang­over cure. It’s a tale of mis­ad­ven­ture, wild liv­ing and sick­ness, as well as a piece of se­ri­ous, ex­per­i­men­tal re­search. Bishop-Stall proudly de­clares “at the time of this note, I am still alive”. You can raise a glass to that, and then – since it’s Christ­mas – raise a cou­ple more.

The Story of Brexit The Good Brex­i­teer’s Guide to English Lit At­las of the Un­ex­pected In­va­sion of the Space In­vaders Cook­book The Mer­maid by Michael On­daatje Five Go Feast­ing “Broadsword Call­ing Danny Boy” Hun­gover

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