Off the shelf
Book: The Pugilist at Rest by Thom Jones
A Boy's Own collection of short stories for the discerning youngster. These dark and humorous tales of boxing Marines, Vietnam recon missions, heroic deep-sea divers, the perils and wonders of temporal lobe epilepsy and the teachings of Schopenhauer are one of the first things I reach for. The first and best of Jones, from 1993, it is rock and roll writing at its very best.
Film: Chinatown, 1974
Cinematic perfection: Jack Nicholson at his peak as, stylishly dressed wise-cracking private eye Jake Gittes, an Oscar-winning script by Robert Towne, pre-scandal Roman Polanski behind the lens and the legendary John Huston sat like a spider at the centre of a web of power, corruption and incest in 1930s Los Angeles. Faye Dunaway is superb as the femme fatale opposite Gittes' quintessential noir detective.
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Album: Songs of Love and Hate Leonard Cohen, 1970
Rainy-day poetry set to music in the minor chord range by the peerless Canadian. Taut and atmospheric, it was mostly recorded live in Nashville, though Sing Another Song Boys was live at the Isle of Wight Festival. Desolate, melancholic, miserable and yet wonderfully life-affirming. Draw the curtains and enjoy the darkness.