The novel. written in 1929 and translated now by Michael Hofmann. gives an intriguing insight into the recession-stricken Berlin of the 2()s. Roth‘s steely. tin-soldier cynicism is reminiscent ofa Kurt Weill song. or a piece ofBreeht. with clockwork characters and minimalist. though evocative. prose.
But halfway through Rightand Left the tone changes: it seems that more is expected of the characters — and 0f the reader - as Paul Bernheim and Brandeis both begin to question their own and each other‘s motives. Maybe Roth is simply illustrating their (and his) lack ofconsistency.1 found that it was too late to start changing direction. and fast lost interest. (Miranda France)
I Paradise of Fools Jane Rawlinson (Andre Deutsch £13.99) The Victorian painter Richard Dadd almost made it big until he went insane and murdered his father. Incarcerated for life in Broadmoor. Dadd was unable to marry Elizabeth Carter. his childhood sweetheart. In Paradise ufFools Jane Rawlinson uses the facts to re-create the story from the disappointed fiance'e's viewpoint. John Fowles it isn‘t.
Reader. I speak in particular ofthe falseness of narrative and of discourse. The usage ofeounterfeit 19th-century idiom together with the inclusion of latter-day parlance proves most irksome. Unhappily. this attempt at Victorian melodrama is devoid of both interest and wit. As if the spurious Victorian dialogue wasn‘t sufficient. the plot is thin enough to rival poor-house gruel. (Wendy Robertson)
I Oi No Country: An Anthology ol the Works of Sir Richard Burton ed. Frank McLynn (Scribners £14.95) Drawing on over 201) sources. Frank McLynn pays fitting tribute to one of this country‘s greatest ever explorers. Sir Richard Burton ( 1821-90) was a character of epic stature who managed to pack several careers. as well as numerous expeditions into his life.
In the extracts from the explorer's writings. McLynn reﬂects Burton‘s wonders at the sights he saw on his travels through the great continents. Always a traveller. never a tourist. Burton‘s involvement with the locals he met provides a fascinating record
ofcultures then unadulterated by
Even when ill health finally prevented him from travelling. Burton devoted himself to writing poetry based on his travels. He also
translated such works as The
Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra. extracts from which are also included in this anthology. (Wendy Robertson)
POETRY MAD MAHON
I Selected Poems Derek Mahon (Viking £14.99). These poems are not emotive enough to impress immediately. Poems about Ireland. its religious strife subtly shifting between foreground and background. are not necessarily memorable. Nor are the products of swallowing a departmental library too quickly. Reworkings of Beckett. Heaney and Joyce are all very well. but sound too much like academics addressing one another. Indeed the book is even guilty of a smattering of your actual Greek.
The translations- ifthat is what they are — of Ovid. are another matter though. both erotic and controlled. Enigmatic accounts of loving and lusting.
The poem that really knocked me over was ‘An Unborn Child‘. Written from the perspective of the womb,’the structure implies a tract in support of ProLife. but seems really to be a positive affirmation of living. such as that other Irishman was famous for. And death too. of course.
Mahon is possibly a very good poet. But then they said that ofJim Morrison. (Thomas Quinn)
The recent motley selection at paperbacks is dominated by a pungent and not altogether pleasing American llavour, writes Charlie Llewellyn. Larry McMurtry. of Terms of Endearment fame. returns with Some Can Whistle (Arrow £4.99). The peace of absurdly-named writer Danny Deck is shattered by the reappearance of his vibrant daughter. complete with a comical menagerie ofchildren and friends. There‘s no doubt that McMurtry can spin a yarn in the John Irving tradition — with a similar cloying bitter-sweetness and the predictable heap ofcorpses. This would be excellent for a long journey. although frankly I blushed at the cover. which sports a pair of raunchy female legs astride a highway.
My only embarrassment with John Fergus Ryan’s The Redneck Wedding (Delta £4.99) was my insuppressible laughter. With his passion for detail and his ﬂorid Southern language. Ryan conducts a crescendo ofgrim humour. providing an almost
I sacrilegious antidote to Carson
McCullers. Trouble‘s afoot in the Bible-bashing. backwooods town of Bloat. Mississippi. Reprobate Rafe
Junior is in jail. unable to marry the
resolute and minuscule Sue Davy Merkle when a chain gang duo save this hapless redneck wedding by proxy.
From the fetid swamps of Mississippi to the steamy tangle of the notorious von Bulow case. Alan M. Dershowitz continues to
it. your pants off with
‘lrresistibly funny.’ The Listener
(Olllllli llP ROSES
His sparkling new novel
Out now in Black Swan paperback
The List 25 January - 7 February 1991 73