values ‘Poet in New York‘ has considerable relevance for our present dilemmas. It is also the deeply personal document of a complex young man and his astonishing cry of protest. (Ken Morrice)
Good Intentions Joy Fielding (MacDonald, £12.95). Joy Fielding‘s budding best seller is set in Delray Beach, Florida -— a suburban paradise where the sun always shines, where career women put in long hours and their men sneak home at lunch-time to sleep with clients and secretaries.
In long summers of such discontent, divorce is rife. This book is littered with discarded wives and spurned husbands.
Lynn Schuster, a social worker, (in this Florida, social workers have schedules, secretaries and the occasional posh lunch in town) is one such cheated woman. Distraught and confused, she embarks on an affair with the handsome Marc. Their liaison is, however, complex: her husband and his wife have just run off together.
Meanwhile, Lynn‘s high-flying divorce lawyer, Renee, has a weight problem, an unfaithful husband problem, a wicked step-daughter and a suicidal sister — not to mention cruel and unloving parents.
Fielding‘s attempt to incorporate the stifling nature of family ties and issues such as child abuse into the fast pace of the working woman’s best seller, is‘trite to say the least. As a pulp novel this book hasn‘t enough thrills; as an attempt to deal with the trauma and pressures of women’s family lives, it is merely ridiculous. (Moira Jeffrey)
Soul/Mate Rosamond Smith (Andre Deutsch, £11.95). To a stereotypical community of dinner parties and charitable work comes a mysterious Adonis, Colin Asch, automatically smothered with attention from his wealthy aunt — a woman eager to score Brownie points and retain her social standing.
It is quickly established, however. that the idyllic Asch is a psychopathic killer.
With an appropriately tragic childhood under his belt, Asch‘s twisted mind turns its attentions to Dorothea Deverell, widowed and with a strong identity within the community. Indeed he is in love. but, more importantly he feels the need to be loved and believes Deverell will be able to sate this desire. And so each of Deverell‘s enemies, those who stiﬂe her ambitions, is exterminated, until the situation explodes with a climatic. if unavoidable showdown.
Overlong, and lacking bite. Soul/Mate is as frustratingly disappointing as — when it is coherent — it is intriguing, accompanied by a delicate splash of romance and an ending of the old-fashioned happy type. Full ofpotential but ultimately stale. (Susan Mackenzie)
SHORT STORIES TAIL ENDS
The People and Uncollected Stories Bernard Malamud (Chatto and Windus, £12.95). The People is a 100-page first draft ofthe late Bernard Malamud’s unfinished novel about the fate of the American
Indian. If this seems unusual territory for a novelist whose work has always been steeped in American Jewish life, the book is nonetheless quintessential Malamud, complete with an unlikely hero in the shape ofone Jozip, a Jewish immigrant who finds himself appointed chiefof the threatened tribe, and leads their epic but doomed flight for Canada, an expedition which clearly echoes the famous episode involving chief Joseph and his Navajo people.
The mordantly comic treatment of life’s unfathomable cruelties is as deliciously barbed as ever, but Malamud‘s distinctive liberal humanism does not allow him to succumb to the darker reaches of his vision, while Jozip‘s assumption of moral responsibility places him firmly in a long line of protagonists who must endure that often painful process in his fiction. The People would certainly have undergone
considerable changes had the writer lived. but ifit cannot be numbered among his major achievements in its present form, it remains a fascinating coda to the work of one of the century’s great novelists. The sixteen Uncollected stories which ﬂesh out the volume include six previously unpublished works recovered from his posthumous papers. (Kenny Mathieson)
The Way You Tell Them Alan Brownjohn (Deutsch £1 1 .95) The ghastly vision of a fifth Conservative government in Britain is the axis of poet Alan Brownjohn’s debut novel which does to 1999 what Orwell did to 1984. A futuristic projection of Thatcher‘s policies and their consequences is the scarcely veiled moral.
The story itself is concerned (in passing) with the fate ofChris Lexham, out-spoken critic of the government and spikey satirist. Business tycoon, media magnate and satirical target Sir Clive Deanley strangely courts Lexham, urging him to entertain him with abysmal, sordid jokes. Lexham, despite noble intentions, becomes Deanley‘s jester, bought with his own lurid fantasies of sex with policewomen and sex in a car-wash.
Brownjohn‘s vision is a disturbing one: Britain is almost a police state, and has been infiltrated by informers. Unions are wrestling with management, and breakaway unions set down their own dubious laws. One can only assume that the series of unfunny jokes which toil through the text are supposed to highlight the problems of humour in a totalitarian state. As a parable of the artist under siege from society’s megalomaniacs, the book works well enough and just about manages to skirt round the potential pot-hole of artistic self-absorption. (Kristina Woolnough)
I A Decade oi I-Deas compiled by i-D magazine (Penguin £7.99) An excellent youth culture A to Z of the
Eighties, with largely witty entries, plus a few dead ducks.
I chkens Fred Kaplan (Sceptre £6.99) Fat biog of the man and his works, with dense and learned footnotes.
I In Trouble Again Redmond O’Hanlon (Penguin £3.99) Celebrated writer‘s celebrated book about a notoriously and wonderfully awful jaunt into Amazonian forests with Simon.
I Misalliance Edward Abelson (Macdonald £5.95) Slim guide to the disastrous love lives, the whys and the wherefores, of literary folk.
I The Caged Lion William Manchester (Cardinal £6.99) Meticulous, door-stopping labour of love charts the life of Churchill in miniscule print.
I Journeys to the Underworld Fiona Pitt-Kethley (Abacus £3.99) Raunchy, sex-obsessed poet turns her hand to travel-writing about Italy, where she hotly pursues casual sex and sibyls in the same torrid breath.
I Djuna Barnes’s New York D juna Barnes (Virago £8.99) The deceased American literary mingler‘s musings and essays of 1913-1919 on her home town and the quirky doings of its inhabitants.
I Heart Songs and Other Stories E. Annie Proulx (Flamingo £3.99) Gravelly tales from the rougher corners of New England. Good wholesome, gruesome, sorry stuff. I Kisses oi the Enemy Rodney Hall
(Faber £5.99) Flushed, heated language works around a futuristic portrait of Australia, post-colony. I The Greenlanders Jane Smiley (Fontana £4.50) Whopping great epic deals with 14th-century Greenland and the harsh conditions endured by its dying population. Unusual but intriguing.
I Dialectlcs at nature A paper presented by N. Bissell at RSAMD, 100 Renfrew Street, 332 5057, on Tue 16 Jan. One of a series of meetings ofOpen World Poetics, a new discussion group based in Glasgow. Open to anyone interested.
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY MONTH
In conjunction with Penguin, Grafton, Corgi, Dragon’s World, Unwin Hyman, Mandarin, Fontana, Futura, Sphere, Hodder & Stoughton and Arrow
63-65 Queen Street, Glasgow tel: 041-226-5762
The List 12 — 25 January 1990 69