I Snow Townsend Kemp (Barrie and Jenkins. £12.99) Townsend Kemp‘s first novel is one of those thrillers which. once you‘ve begun. you just find impossible to pick up. From the hideous graphics on the ﬂy-leafto the stilted prose and tortuously dull plot. 5mm- does not exactly fit the bill ofa gripping action packed debut. Scenes switch routinely from one set of characterless names to another. with Kemp mundancly emphasising the link between the occasional Alpine setting and the cocaine dealing of the title. The plot revolves around various IRA fanatics who say things like. ‘You‘re a hard man to do business with. to be sure.‘ and eventually destroy each other in an act ofinternecine manoeuvering. while the police tidy everything up at the end and attempt to explain what the book's actually been about. I can only repeat the words ofGeorgie. the gay detective. as advice; ‘All this wretched snow unhinges the mind. Very boring stuff. snow.‘ (Richard Goslan)
I The Gate of Angels Penelope Fitzgerald (Collins £12.95) Why do people still write books about turn of the century quirky eccentric Oxbridge dons and their students? Why are these angular intellectuals always falling for plump long-suffering working-class girls who smell of Pears soap and are worth their weight in gold? Why. if we need more of these books, are they so tediously written?
I can honestly say that I found The Gate ofAngels one of the most stolid and wearisome books I have ever read. In fact it was infuriatineg dull. I would happily have put it down at any point. And this writer a Booker Prize winner! (Miranda France) .
BIOGRAPHY FAMILY MISFORTUNES
I Thomas Mann and his Family Marcel Reich-Ranicki (Fontana £9.99). Ofall great literary figures.
Since her death two decades ago, American photographer Diane Arbus’s international reputation, her status as a trash icon, has continued to increase. Bloomsbury’s welcome reissue of this anthology named after her offers a new generation oi sickies the chance to familiarise themselves with the leading portraitist oi the weirdness that is modern America.
Transvestites, nudists, dwarfs, Republicans: by capturing them in mundane situations, Arbus showed how, in much of US society, the abnormal has become the norm. If you're not all your head, there must be something wrong with you. On occasion, as represented here by her ‘Untitled‘ series of Downs Syndrome women at play, she shares that sickness, and seems unpleasantly voyeuristic. More frequently, however, there is a cosy homeliness about her work— literally so in the case of the illustration shown here, ‘A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, NY 1970.’
The great thing about this book is that
all the photos are the same size. Get the book, get a frame to fit, cut out your twelve favourites, and you can have a different illustration on yourwall every
month. Dead arty, eh? (Stuart Bathgate)
Diane Arbus is published by Bloomsbury at £14.
there was a wider difference between the experiences Thomas Mann wrote about and those he lived than anyone else. As an author who lived inside his own head. he presents major difficulties to new recruits signing up to join the ever-growing army of biographers. Reich—Ranicki attempts to get round this obstacle by expanding the battlefield to include Mann's ghastly family. Thomas himself was egotistic and cold. as was his brother Heinrich. but Heinrich was as bad a writer as his brother was good. Mann‘s eldest son Klaus. another bad novelist. achieved his most creative act when he committed suicide. His harridan of a daughter had a worse fate — she married W.H. Auden. 6010. His dutiful wife Katia suffered at length. at one point having to return her husband‘s love letters so that he
THE NEW BOOK BY
could w rite then. up into a novel.
Fans of Mann would do better to re-read his books. but this biography is. all the same. better than your average footnoted academic tome. (David M. Bennie)
SIX OF THE BEST
I Makers of the Twentieth Century: Martin Luther King Adam Fairclough: Charles De Gaulle Julian Jackson; Kwame Nlrrumah David Birmingham; Willy Brandt Barbara Marshall; Franklin D. Roosevelt Fiona Venn: Deng Xiaoping David Goodman (Cardinal. £4.99 each) These six books are the first in a new series of short political biographies which should prove handy for those wishing to master the subject quickly in reasonable enough depth for most purposes. Standarised, with attractive covers and clear layout.
they are for the most part devoted to broad analysis rather than detailed charts, figures and acronyms; Goodman on Deng Xiaoping is a perhaps understandable exception, given the difficulty of getting testimony from those around him and the unfamiliarity of the Chinese political system. but a picture does emerge of a leader chillingly loyal to the party. rather than the people, the state or even the ideology. Fairclough on Luther King is excellent too. constantly and convincingly explaining the motives behind King's advocacy of non-violence. One complaint about this series though: in the six released here and the titles to follow, not one focuses on a female leader. What of Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, or even our own Mrs Thatcher? (Andrea Baxter)
132 UNION ST. GLASGOW Gi
DESMOND MORRIS . ..
It does for the other species THURSDAY 13th SEPTEMBER what MANWATCHING did 7.30pm for Humans .................. .. To reserve copies Tel: 041 221 0890 We are delighted to welcome the author to our stores to 3:52:21; goggggii talk abo t h's latest book. ° U I FRIDAY 14th SEPTEMBER 7.30pm
To reserve copies Tel: 031-556 3034/5
The List 31 August— 13 September 1990 83