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Hiding In the Light Dick I Iebdige (Routledge £8.95). Academic style pundit Ilebdige. currently at the Idiiversity ol'l.ondon. originates from \Volverhampton Poly's notorious (‘entre for ('ontemporary (‘ulttiral Studies. where research papers bear such pithy titles as “Ilie Motorcycle Deviant: A 'l'ransactional Analysis".

Hiding in I/It’ Lie/ii. his third book on popular style and culture. is a collection ol'essays and articles written over the last five years which. the author claims. have ‘the uneven consistency of writing on the run'. The articles. whose subject matter ranges from Italian scooters to Sid Vicious. are linked by their common goal of discovering the so-callcd ‘real' behind the image. 'I‘he problem. according to I Iebdige. is that this 'real' is nonexistent. despite which he insists on taking the reader on a journey through the origins of postmodernist style towards this unattainable end.

'I‘his journey might be fine if the ‘stibstantive echoes' (photographs to you and me) which illustrate the book were attractive. btit unfortunately they are as dull and unclear as the text. lIebdige's work is thus effectively disqualified from the natural habitat of the style book the coffee table leaving it to the pop theorists and social psychologists who will no doubt find it a useful source of reference for their own abstruse essays on modern popular culture. ((‘harles I Iolmes)


Freaky Deaky Iilmore Leonard (Viking £l 1.85). After the relative

disappointment of last year's Bandits. this new novel marks a return to the peak of his form for America's leading crime writer.

Robin and Skip are two ageing hippies who yearn for the good old days ofgetting stoned. going on demonstrations and blowing tip the odd building. ’I‘heir attempts to extort a million dollars from a rich acquaintance run into some difficulties when a Detroit policeman. newly transferred from the bomb sqtiad. gets onto their trail. ’I‘he police themselves. though. hardly have their own troubles to seek. as there appears to be an entirely unrelated gang ofcrazies on the loose who specialise in detonating armchairs and whoever is sitting in them at the time.

'l'he pacing of the plot is expertly handled: separate groups of characters are introduced. and slowly their paths come together. increasing the tension as the book progresses. While the novel is essentially serious. it contains a strong element of wry humour: Skip. a movie stuntman. explains about ‘a big epic called The Sack o/‘Rome. But what it was. it was a sack ofshit‘.

But above all it is the quality ofthe dialogue which makes I‘rt’uky Den/(y a joy to read. ()f novelists writing in Iinglish. perhaps only Martin Amis can match Leonard's ear for the rhythms of urban speech: from the white upper class to poor slum-dwelling blacks. from spaced otit ex-hippies to industrial workers. Leonard captures their speech patterns with an enviable accuracy.

A wholly admirable achievement. Freaky Den/(y rivals Sung. The Switch and The Hunted for the title of l .eonard‘s best novel to date. (Stuart Bathgate)

BELOW THE BELT I Journeys to the Underworld Fiona Pitt-Kethley ((‘hatto & Windus £lli) (‘hatto & Windtis benevolently endow Ms Pitt-Kethley with the description ‘(‘asanova-like‘. I never quite had the impression of (‘asanova roaming through the streetsof Italy in smelly espadrilles. nylon blouses (with bows on top) and gold ltirex dressing gowns. I imagine the similarities are thought to lie in Fiona‘s supposed expertise on the subject of Pricks (after which she entitles a chapter).

Linder the pretext of travelling through Italy searching for Sibyls (about which we learn remarkably little) Ms- Pitt-Kethley tells with relish of how she managed to extend her ‘expertise' considerably. Sex and Sibyls just don‘t mix. however. The most interesting description (ofa Sibyl‘s grotto) is lifted from Misson anyway and the juxtaposition ofsueh historic material with her ridiculous encounters and trite comments (on the tips and downs of her holey tights for instance) makes for incredibly tedious reading.

In a desparate attempt to be funny. mainly through childish shock tactics involving bad language. she sacrifices accuracy and it becomes impossible to take her seriously. The final product is totally bereft of any ‘(‘asanova-like' charm and we are left with the impression of the whole of Italy coming in handbags in buses. But what else can we expect froin a writer who sees Apollo's quiver as ‘a circumcised prick of mammoth proportions”? (Jacqueline Edgar)


In The Midday Sun (iuy Bellamy (Viking £1 I.95)'I'hree brothers find themselves languishing in the playground of Britain's ex-pat criminals in Spain. Daniel Ward is the spoilt youngest who has diddled £1 million from various British banks after some smart calculations. Matthew has evaded the tax man. until his wife shops him and he flees to the (‘osta del Sol. Mark is the sombre eldest. He is a legitimate piano-player in Jay's bar who is also penniless.

public-schoolboy silliness such as

this clangingly gauche re-working of an over-used quote: "I‘o have one son wanted by the police could be counted a misfortune: to have two looked very much like carelessness‘. (Kristina Woolnough)


The Seven Deadly Sins ed. Alison Fell (Serpent's 'I'ail £7) The seven deadly sins have traditionally been portrayed as male: women get the virtues and aren't supposed to be wicked. But this collection by seven well-known women writers is ftill of women who are angry at the frustrations of motherhood or envious ofother people's babies; slothfully not doing housework or proudly doing it: coveting an entry into the property market; being obsessive about food to the point of grotesqueness.

The exception is the lust story which. concerned with gay men. subverts the idea of the female temptress. It stands oddly iii this female-centred collection. failing to provide. as the other stories do. a recognisably female context of love. motherhood. the body. ambivalence about success - where the deadly sins which women have been disallowed are. of course. rampant. This is an exciting. imaginative mix ofstories. its only drawback being the price. which at £1 a sin. is wicked. (Elizabeth Burns)


I The House of Hospitalities Emma 'I'ennant (Penguin £3.99) Along weekend in the country at the Lovescombes‘ reveals for fourteen year-old Jenny that not only do the rich have more money than the rest of us. they‘re also as mad as hatters. Promising start to a Powellian sequence of novels.

I Modern Times (‘alman (Andre Deutsch £3.95) The Times cartoonist shows that barbed comment is not barred behind the barbed-wire of Wapping.

I The Wind Changes Olivia Manning (Virago £4.95) IIer "I’roubles’ novel set in Dublin in I921. Published originally more than 50 years ago it impresses through its perspicacity

' .- N" )" ii)" - 'w . . . . B O D Y & U L ffnfigflg‘gfijfififiij m1pgitrilctszn/i25:32;51:53:23?“ and its astute reading of Irish history. Tcl:0!t 2261066 . . . _. v I Return Journey I Ielen Flint (Black morals of the tale. Setting aside the \ _ I. . /' unlikely way in which events pan Pf‘i’” L395) man "‘9ch x / Out. Bellamy docs present I rask Award in I987 fora first . '/ convincing and concise cameos of mmi’m'c “Owl A "Ether and . each brother: Daniel the alcoholic daughter Whimm-‘hll‘ Shi‘rPl.‘ “Pd 3 /- \ sop who is still a whizz with Daily “'|11|l)'.(')l780f\’ctl but mcrlaid with ' '9'” 9‘ "i "W ‘l‘t’l’ - Telegraph crosswords; Matthew the Sadness- (in in \m t‘thl)(‘r 88 j .‘ hard-worker who distinguishes his I The Beaumm Room |s Empty at 7pm i l lritUd “0m that Of tht‘ criminal Edmund White (Picador £3.95) to t‘\l)l()rt‘ Drt'anmork figment; and Mark the hungry" Fun-blooded sequel t“ ‘A Boy‘s _ _ i chip-on-the shoulder brother who. ()wn Story" with the protagonist's mm ll'l‘m 5‘ ""“ l . when finally success (C/O'I'Om JOINS) obsessional hot pursuit ofgay sex l“ - doescome tohim. is too wise togloat and simultaneousattcmplg[odcny visit Us main to (rpm HOLISTIC imd Prccn. his orientation. Stirring stuff. Mona... a, Mum... SPIRITUAL Bellamy‘s wry humour- as he pokes I Beloved Toni Morrison (Picador m (m Wmhmd n C R E E N 21! the prelCnSKmSilnd £3.95) Pulitzer Prize Winning novel ( (IOUDIC-LICZIIIT'Ig 0f hIS CTCW. kCCpS II‘IC of black slavery 1n Kentucky whch “Wm”: “H (’P'" GROWTH plot afloat. It's a bizarre book. which even after abojiiion‘ the B O O K S Slumblcsfmm lime [OlimCimO repercussions ofwhite violence.

maltreatment and cruelty echo on in

60'I'he List I I 24 November 1988