' 3.3145"- " .
£33335." ' - ' 7 ' ' ‘
way. Branson comes over as curiously one-dimensional — perhaps a fault of the author. perhaps due to the strictures ofsuch an ‘authorised‘ biography.
Someone describes Branson. the great self-promoter. as having ‘a lot ofballs but no bloody skill‘. The business deals and lucky breaks in records. film. publishing. the airline. Britain‘s best known gay disco Heaven. Mates condoms and the PR successes of Branson's transatlantic exploits by balloon and boat make for fascinating reading. And it‘s disappointingly reasuring to learn that. hippie hair-do notwithstanding. Mr Pickles is a rotten old capitalist like all the rest.
‘ SCI-Fl & FANTASY
SMALL TOWN TERROR
Valley of Lights Stephen Gallagher (NEL £1.95) With this short novel Gallagher establishes himself as one ofthe leading lights ofthe British horror school. Tightly written and plotted. it avoids lapsing into extraneous detail and events. unlike —say— the worst ofStephen King. and it fairly gallops along. The story itself revolves around the terror that strikes a small town and one man's fight against an ancient and insidious evil (at times it is reminiscent of Fallen Angel. filmed recently as Angel Heart). There is a good mixture of light horror in the form of a fairly traditional thriller. laced throughout with a smattering (or should that be a splattering'.’) of sardonic black humour. l lighly recommended. (Alasdair Boyd)
RETURN OF THE CYBERPUNKS
Vacuum Flower Michael Swanwick (Gollancz £1 1.95) Swanwick follows up the promising In the Drift with what is the first of a second generation of ‘cyberpunk‘ novels (new books are also expected by all the founding fathers ofthe school Gibson. Sterling. Shirleyetc. ). After a somewhat bewildering start we crash headlong into a helter skelter story as Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark ﬂees through space in an attenth to avoid those out to kill her (for reasons not obvious until the end) and her former self. who takes over more and more of her personality as the story proceeds. This is truly the world of the cyberpunks and the book is jammed full of personality constructs (the leading character is one herself). wetware. shyapples. groupminds and almost too many other concepts hingeing on the interaction between machines and the human personality. Along the way Swanwick throws in his tuppence worth on such matters as communism. sexuality. uniformity and commerce. coming down resolutely on the side of individualism as the solution to all the world‘s ills (or maybe just this world‘s ills). But ifyou like Bester or Gibson you‘ll enjoy this book enormously. (Kenny Penman)
I Descrl Islands Walter de la Marc (Faber £5.95) A ‘rambling commmentary‘ on islands. loosely organised and beautifully written with decorations by Rex Whistler. I Sex and Shopping and Fame and Fortune David Thomas & lan Irvine (Fontana £3.5(leach) ‘It‘s a game... it‘s a book . . . it‘s hilarious‘ puffthe publishers. These items— it‘s difficult to be more specific - are the literary equivalents ofa game show. Stick to Safeways on Friday night. I Ireland: In All Her Sins and In Some of HerGracesJ.P. Donleavy (Penguin £6.95) A la recherche du Guinness perdu as the Ginger Man seeks out the land ofhis fathers and comes to the conclusion that gossip‘s good for you. too. I An Unfinished Journey Shiva Naipaul (Abacus £3.50) Last words from the wonderfully talented younger brother of VS. in which he hoped to discover why those in proximity to Australia — the Chinese. Japanese. Indians. Indonesians, Malaysians etc — did not find their way to Australia before Captain Cook. I Skinner Hugh C. Rae (Richard Drew £3.95) Back to front thriller in which police pursue the eponymous psychopath from page one for the killing ofa young girl. Set in Glasgow and environs it crackles like a lit fuse to its last angry sentence. I Write 0n: Occasional Essays, 1965—1985 David Lodge (Penguin £3.95) Fluent ﬂows the don in this sparkling collection which includes pieces on topics as diverse as catholicism. Shakin‘ Stevens, Joyce (James not Grenfell). Poland and why he writes. I Sunset Song Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Canongate £2.95) At last a ‘clean‘ and modestly priced copy of the classic whose serialisation on the small screen was recently repeated. I Einstein’s Monsters Martin Amis (Penguin £3.50) Thoughts of Armageddon preoccupy Amisfils in this gallimaufry. an introductory essay and five stories. When Amis pére heard his son was writing about nuclear weapons he said: ‘Ah. I suppose you‘re. . . “against them“, are you'?‘ I The Americans Daniel J. Boorstin (Cardinal £7.95) A Pulitzer Prize winning tour de force finale to an impressive trilogy. Boorstin. the Librarian of Congress. mobilising more facts than any brain should have to cope with. discovers what made — makes — a disparate host of immigrants into Americans. It was not McDonald‘s. I Little Wilson and Big God Anthony Burgess (Penguin £5.95) Hefty starter to the great man‘s autobiog. taking him from humble origins in a Lancashire pub to the shores of death — and the beginning of his career as a writer— in Malaysia. Garrulous. preposterous. brilliant.
NEW FICTION FROM CANONGATE
REVISITING EMPTY HOUSES Una Flett On the surface, Revisiting Empty Houses, a first novel by Una Flett, is the story of the break-up of a marriage, but on a deeper level it represents a moving account of a woman’s courageous struggle to establish her own identity and break out of the mould created by her sex and circumstances.
JUST DUFFY Robin Jenkins Robin Jenkins displays an uncanny ability to bring to
' light the frustrations and hopelessness of today’s youth.
His feel for the bleakness of urban life is masterly. It is a novel which can leave no reader feeling complacent about the modern world.
Canongate Publishing Ltd Edinburgh
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The List 10— 23 June 1988 57