script reveals it to be turgid as it was when I saw the movie. even if it has perfectly captured the heat and political excitement of black soul and white punk in London. 1977, during the Queen‘s Silver Jubilee. All in all a fascinating complement to the movie. (Thom Dibdin)
l The Money Culture Michael Lewis (Hodder and Stoughton £14.99) The financia.l free-for-all ofthe 1980s coughed up memorable characters and some very funny journalism. This collection of articles published everywhere from The New York ' Times to The Spectator is stuffed with both.
As a former trader at Salomon Brothers. Lewis knows the ropes and the people who pull them. The book is an incisive and light-hearted guide to the mechanics. mores and parlance of the financial ivory tower. Everything you always wanted to know about junk bonds and leveraged buyouts is here in plain English.
But what really makes it such a good read is the colourful. pungent wit. There are wonderful sketches of cocksure investment bankers. seedy corporate raiders and ﬂamboyant billionaires. The piece on the flight of Oxbridge graduates to Wall Street is unforgettable.
Free of the overwriting and the self-indulgent guesswork that weigh down many ofTom Wolfe‘s musings. the book is a splendid introduction to the charms ofAmerican journalism. (Carl Honoré)
Philip Parr reviews the recent releases. New. ‘bright young talents‘ can‘t be given an entire novel to play with so give them a book of short stories on which to polish their art. If the great reading public don‘t like one of the yarns they‘ll appreciate the next, won‘t they? Unfortunately. the scheme seldom works that smoothly.
The Veteran Perils (Methuen £599) is the first book by New Zealander Damien Wilkins and. in true introductory fashion. is a collection ofshort (often very short) stories. New Zealand being a country of sparse inspiration, Wilkins ﬂits around the globe. adopting various
Colin Thubron is best known for his travel writing - giving life and reality to what are, for most people, names on a map. in Turning Back The Sun, his fifth novel, he takes the opportunity to escape the constrictions of geography to explore the subjective relationship between person and place.
Rayner is a young doctor exiled by an intransigent bureaucracy to a harsh frontier town in the desert, although he longs to return to the capital city by the sea where he was brought up. To the reader used to fixing things in time and place, Thubron’s refusal to name the book’s locale is at first a challenge. The town is vividly described - a colonial stronghold carved out from the wilderness— but could be in Australia, South Africa or any other imperialist outpost where redneck farmers war with dark-skinned natives. The accuracy of the description suggests that the town is based on an actual place, but as the book progresses this ceases to matter as it becomes clear that the place is as much influenced by Rayner's state of mind as he is influenced by it. The rawness and immediacy of the frontier are part of adult life and it is not until Rayner gains his wish of returning to the gentler environs of the capital that he realises
that it is not the place he bankers after but his lost childhood.
Thubron excels in description and also in conveying the power that people and place have over one another. The climax of the book is a brilliant set-piece in which the natives, watched by an astonished white army unit, attempt to exert ultimate control over their environment by ‘turning back the sun'.
This is an absorbing delineation of complex and intangible relationships which impresses particularly by its understatement. Thubron never opts for the obvious denouement but instead lets dangerous situations fizzle out, as in life, leaving an atmosphere of faint menace behind. (Frances Cornford) Turning Back The Sun is published by Heinemann priced £13.99.
personas as he goes. from a teenage schoolgirl footballer to a particularly demented man named Noah. A vivid imagination is in evidence but there is no literary talent to sustain the flow. Wilkins‘ grammar is so appalling that large chunks of this book are virtually impossible to read and whilst he has a vast vocabulary. most of us haven‘t the time to sit reading a dull book with a thesaurus at our fingertips.
Publishers‘ gambles do occasionally come off though. Pauline Melville‘s collection of stories Shape-Shifter (Picador £4.99) has not only given critics a lazy option when writing their copy (“stories as various as the legendary magician ofthe title‘ - The Guardian). it also shines out as a hugely impressive debut. When in Guyana, Melville rejects the romantic image of sunset on a palm-fringed beach and evokes a world of broken drains. poverty, and. most hauntingly, magic. In London. the characters become harder-edged but no less sympathetic as they indulge in petty crime in order to survive. When Melville gives these authentic voices a peculiarly Caribbean wit, the talent ofthis colonial far outshines that of her pretentious antipodean coHeague.
Justin Cartwright has done the early career leg-work and is now up to his fourth novel. Look At It This Way (Picador £5.99). Cartwright
i i l l l
certainly does look at contemporary London life slightly askance and the novel reads like one long. literary ‘Alex‘ strip. But the life of excruciatingly rich merchant bankers. ad-exee girlfiends and chirpy cockney dealers called Jacci is already sounding a little dated in these recession-blighted times. However. as period pieces go. this is entertaining fare — especially the scene in which the merchant banker meets his maker at the paws of a marauding lion. One can see why a poverty-stricken author deemed it essential that this book just had to be written. With a little luck. it may inspire some other lions.
Rootle Kazootie (Flamingo £4.99) is written by a middle-aged North Carolinan and concerns the life of a middle-aged North Carolinan. Fortunately for author Lawrence Naumoff but tragically for our hero Richard. Carolina. unlike London. has a rank shortage of lions parading up and down its high-streets. This leaves Richard with a manically jealous wife left free and unfettered to wreak havoc on smalltown America. As she wanders around. jerry can ofpetrol in hand. the reader is not only given a vivid account ofone woman's descent into madness but also some hilarious set-pieces. As surreal comedies go. it just about has the edge on Cartwright's. but. of course. without the satisfaction ofthe dismemberment of the capitalist.
BOOKS EVENTS GLASGOW
I JOHN SMITH AND SON 57 Vincent Street. 221 7472. Thurs 12 6.30pm. Maeve Binchy reads from and signs copies of her book Circle of Friends (Coronet £4.99). Fri 13 7pm. Body Shop pioneer. Anita Roddick presents an illustrated talk about her autobiography. Body & Soul(Ebury £12.99). Tue 17 6pm. As seen on TV — real life outrageous chef. Keith Floyd. touches down to talk about his latest culinary guide. Floyd on ()2 (Michael Joseph £15.99). I WATERSTONE’S 45/50 Princes Square 226 9650. Thurs 26 7—9pm. Soon to retire. SDP leader David Owen will talk (sermonise'P). answer questions and sign copies of his autobiography. Time to Declare (Michael Joseph £20). I WATERSTONE'S Union Street. 221 0890. Fri 13 l—2pm. There will be alunchtime reading by horsey thriller-writer. Dick Francis. whose new book. Comeback is published by Michael Joseph at £14.99. Those unable to attend can telephone to reserve a signed copy.
I COLLECTIVE GALLERY 166 High Street. 220 1260. Tickets £2 (£1 .50).
Mon16 7pm. CA W5 ofA rt Revue presents Poetry's not for Me!. featuring Rodney Relax. Janet Paisley. Liz Campbell and others.
I NETHEHBOW ARTS CENTRE 43-45 High Street. 556 9579/2647. Tickets £3 (£2). Fri 13 8pm. As part of the BBC‘s Poetry Festival. there will be readings by lain Crichton Smith. Valerie Gillies and Tom Pow. You can hear the readings on Radio 4.Sun 15. 8pm.
Sat 14 8pm. More BBC poetry readings. this time from Norman MacCaig. Deborah Randall and Robert Crawford.
I JAMES THIN 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743.
Thurs 12 7pm. Howard Denton talks about his Jewish childhood - recently immortalised on Radio Scotland ~ and signs copies of his autobiography. The Happy Land ( Ramsay Head Press £12.95).
$3121 2—4pm. Graphologist lsla Davy will analyse customers' hand-writing and answer any queries in a special event. organised by James Thin in conjunction with Thorsons Books.
I JAMES THIN 57 George Street. 225 4495. Fri 13 12.30—1.30pm. Maeve Binchywili read from her book Circle of Friends (Coronet £4.99) and sign copies.
I WATERSTONE'S 13/14 Princes Street. 556 3034.
Sat 14 1—2pm. Anita Roddick signs copies of her autobiography. Body & Soul ( Ebury £12.99).
Tue 17 2—3pm. TV chef Keith Floyd signs Floyd on ()2 (over 300 recipes!) (Michael Joseph£15.99).
Sat 21 llam—noon. Latest in line ofa
plethora of political memoirs — RoyJenIrins will sign copies of his autobiography. A
Life in the Centre (Macmillan. £20). Tue 24 6—7pm. Rugby commentator and
journalist. Bill McLaren signs his
autobiography. Talking ofRughy (Stanley
Thurs 26 7.30pm. Naomi Wolland journalist Joyce McMillan discuss the tyranny of The Beauty Myth. Naomi Wolf‘s polemical book of last year. mm
I out in paperback (Vintage £5.99).
The List 13 — 26 September 199173