cease to amaze
I’ve seen the Berlin Wall come tumblin’ down. Clapped eyes on Rilkind’s nose when it wasn’t brown. I’ve seen the British economy look really strong. Heard Andrew Lloyd Webber write a pretty good song. I’ve bet nothing but winners down the betting shop, But I’ve never met a lriendly neighbourhood cop!
I’ve read a good sentence by Jeffrey Archer,
(It was an obituary tor Margaret Thatcher.)
I’ve dreamt Neil Kinnock won a general election.
I’ve run into a Sun reader without an erection.
Mike Tyson has finally come a cropper,
But I’ve yet to meet a Iriendly neighbourhood copper!
The Pope’s formed a union with PastorJack Glass. Ian Paisley’s had communion at ten o’clock mass. Maxwell an’ Murdoch have done an honest day’stoil.
Mark Philips has been spotted with the Princess Royal.
Mandela’s long sentence has come to a stop, But I still haven’t met a Iriendly neighbourhood cop!
I’ve tound parallel lines that come to a point.
George Bush and Mary Whitehouse sharin’ a joint. I’ve seen the SDP take a Iirm decision.
And Liverpool slip from the first division.
I know some working teenagers who are not yoppers,
They’re yourtriendly, neighbourhood, crime-stoppers.
FICTION SALTY GRASS
Spartina John Casey (Bodley Head £12.95) Spartina is that increasingly common post-modernist luxury. a straightforward narrative with a highly serious purpose: tightly constructed. closely organised. economic in both its language and its use of locale and character.
Spartina is also a kind of tough marsh grass and. as it happens. the name ofthe fishing boat being built by the protagonist in his backyard. Dick Pierce is a fisherman. living and working in the salt marshes and inlets ofsouthern Rhode Island (it appears you can get no saltier). His family have lived there for generations. their fortunes declining and rich outsiders buying up their land. The boat (and the grass) reﬂect Dick‘s tenacity in the face of the encroaching tide.
It is a deceptively simple story: Dick resents the rich. but gradually finds himselfbecoming involved with them in a number ofways. An initial clear polarity between rich and poor. native and interloper. becomes progressively and subtly blurred as Dick‘s relationships both with his family and those about him develop and overlap.
This is a richly-textured and evocative novel. deliberately
Michael Gill's Image of the Body (The Bodley Head, £15.95) is a highly personal, discriminating study at the human image in art, drawing almost exclusively on the author’s experience. He moves lelicitously lrom the Paleolithic hand oI a cave painter through classical sculpture, Renaissance nudes and Matisse’s ultimate abstracts — ’pure patterns of pleasure' -to Robert Mapplethorpe's choreographed stills. DI the
harking back in its manner to earlier American models. Hemingway. perhaps and Thomas Wolfe? Loyalty. unfaithfulness. self-destructiveness and hope race through narrow inlets and spread into the lagoon. It invokes the only question really worth asking — l low may our lives best be lived'.’ — and ends equivocally on an image of a brimming salt pool. (Robin Davidson)
The World of Nagaraj R. K. Narayan (Heinemann £12.‘)5)'I'his is the latest in R. K. Narayan's series of novels about the imaginary Indian town of Malgudi and its inhabitants. Wealthy Nagaraj‘s life-long ambition is to write a book about Narada. a mythological sage who was forced by a curse to spread a piece of gossip a day or have his head explode. However Nagaraj's writing is frustrated. not only by a dearth of reference material. but by the wild antics ofhis nephew. Tim. and the noisy harmoniuni-playing of'l‘im‘s wife. Saroj a.
A charmingly timid man. Nagaraj will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid confrontation and this is the source of much gentle humour in the novel. In fact. the substance ofthe book is concerned not so much with
photograph above Mapplethorpe told Gill, ‘I chose it because the guy’s Ieet are in perlect alignment.‘ Gill commented, ‘The Iigures might have been carved out of marble.‘ ‘You see the dark patch below their hands,’ said Mapplethorpe. ‘They're not completely covering her pubic hair. Do you think that matters?’ ‘It was a strong image,’ writes Gill, ‘very controlled, but, because of that central Irontal ligure, bursting with energy.‘
82 'l'hc List ‘) - 22 March l‘)‘)ll