«337776?» +3“ ~24 .» f. -- ‘
Even those who year-round wrestle with Proust, the soul and its sundries slip in the summer. Eyes slide sideways at the bookshop counter to ensure that no-one‘s watching. Anonymous brown paper bags and then home-made dust-jackets conceal the ill-gotten gains. And later, in plane and on beach, row upon row of sunseekers are devouring the same bestsellers. blotting the pages with sun-tan oil, sand and beads ofsweat. The red foil lettering glints in the sun. Monosyllabic titles are slavered over. Grab, Hot, Puff, Pants. Or Lace, Knickers, Bazoombers and Burns. 0
Rock Star (Jackie Collins, £10.95 Heinemann) is, like its predecessors,
a nearly non-stop series ofsex scenes -
strung together with a gossamer-fine thread ofplot. Three mega-stars (one a male working-class Brit with streaked blonde hair, another a black. male, American. blind, soul singer and the last a female black/white blues chanteuse) have their torrid life stories told: an inordinate amount of clothes‘ tearing, nipple-biting and trouser-seam bursting. Inner pysches and deep selves are not probed. But there are king-sized beds and intellectual relationships (‘soon she was longing for him to rip her clothes off“) in abundance.
For the avid and eager. Bloomsbury has just produced a very civilized Good Reading Guide (£12.95) by Kenneth McLeish which includes Collins, Jackie as a ‘Read'On‘ (if you must) from Judith Kran’tz in the genre “novel of affairs‘. Sex is not given a category of its own , though presumably it is still counted as one of the balls in the canon of Literature. The Guide holds your hand through the ages and genres, and. ifyou managed to wade through the 3000-odd titles mentioned, you‘d probably end up well-rounded, well~read and broke.
Hammond lnnes's latest boy‘s own adventure Medusa (£10.95 Collins) charts thrills and spills on and under the ocean waves around Menorca. A secretive Navy Lieutenant Commander turns up and starts
asking questions ofthe narrator. a Brit abroad called Mike Steele, who is sailing-obsessed and has a temporarily pregnant wife. A gun-running half-brother. anarchic communist rebels. rioja and Petra and her melons make for wooden and incredible reading.
The Shell Seekers (£12.95 HB and £6.95 New English Library)-—say it without spitting—by romantic novelist Rosamunde Pilcher has scored a hit with sop-seekers. lt switches to and fro in time. telling the life-story ofone Penelope Keeling. initially (>4. latterly deceased. True-love passes her by as she lands herself with a pregnancy and an oafish husband. ()fher three children. two turn out bad eggs like their father. whilst the third becomes a fiercesome but admirable editor. Towards the end of her life. the old heart-strings are tugged once more. as she watches the progress of an idyllic young couple‘s new love. It‘s sickly but digestible for the sweet-toothed.
One that did manage to suck me in was Privileged Lives ((‘ollins £1 1.95) by Edward Stewart. More modern-day Jacobean drama - sex. power. corrupt society. murder. dirt. money — lurks between the pages. The higher echelons ofsociety go about snorting coke. getting into whipping, sleeping on jasmine pot-pourri pillows. watching soap-operas and going to kinky clubs. There is. however. a wholesome New York cop to being them all to book (and some of them to bed). The end of the reading-journey errs on the side of predictability. but the ride has some gormless attractions.
[HIE_ ARTIST IN PORTRAIT
The Truth About Lorin Jones Alison Luric (Michael Joseph £1 1 .95) Novelists have no reason to like biographers. and l’olly Altcr. biographer herione of Alison lurie‘s latest quicksilver novel is an uninspiring woman at the still. sad centre of a whirl of fascinating people; people she must trap. pin down and label in her attempt to present a coherent portrait of her subject. Lorin Jones. the tragic. talented painter.
Trapped in eighties‘ no man land in New York. and threatened by a sugary safe lesbian society. l’olly falls for Lorin Jones. the free spirit of the sixties. l’olly's progress. (half detective story. half romance). along the dead roots of l .orin's past is marked in the novel by transcripts of the interviews she has done with those who knew Lorin and those who bought and sold her beguiling. half-abstract paintings. l’rom these accounts. no rounded picture of the artist emerges. but a contradictory. cubist portrait. This unreconcilable. partial reflection. says l.urie. is the truth.
The exposition of the unreliable perspective is this book’s raison d'etre. btit l’olly"s doubts and filtered view become increasingly annoying. where they should be revealing and amusing. l)istancing herself from the narrative. l.urie makes her statement about art at the expense of her narrative. which. left in the hands of Polly Alter becomes sticky romantic fiction. (Julie Morrice)
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Love In The Time of Cholera (iabriel (iarcia Marquez ((‘ape £11.95)
This book is a hamper of delights. set to please anyone who exults in the language ofemotions. in succulent humour and in the magic words and ideas. A love-story set in a coastal South American city along the (‘arribean shore. it revolves around Fermina Daza and the two men who have loved her.
The book's overture portrays her marriage to Dr Urbino. a civilized partnership which tragically ends when Urbino. rescuing his Francophone parrot from a tree. falls fatally. uttering finally to Fermina: ‘()n|y (iod knows how much I loved you.‘
Florentino Ariza however is not so coy. Aware of Fermina's widowed status. he attempts to rekindle their youthful passion. Unwilling to ‘permit himself to grow old in a natural way". he woos Fermina with a blend of animal innocence and buckish bravado. and his picaresque life is recollected in prose which seems plain and innocent on the page. but which burgeons wonderfully once released into the imagination‘s ether.
Florentino is the novel‘s centre of
SKINNER 18 “me STORY OF A psvcnomm.
RICHARD DREW PUBLiSlllHO
, THE OFFICIAL GUIDE
The new fully illustrated OFFICIAL GUIDE TO GLASGOW has been designed for the visitor, the tourist and the resident. Full of helpful information with tours, routes, maps and colour photographs.
RICHARD DREW PUBLISHING LTD GLASGOW
'l‘he List 32 July 4 .-\ttgust 1988 51