MEIE— THE COMEBACK KIDS
I Clinton Martin Walker (Fourth Estate £20) and New Britain Tony Blair (Fourth Estate £8.99) in less than two weeks‘ time the American elections are sure to return Bill Clinton. aka ‘The Comeback Kid‘. to the Whitehouse for a second term. In just a year he has turned the tables on the Republicans, leaving his challenger Robert Dole looking like the burnt-out septuagenarian he is.
Not for nothing has Clinton also been dubbed ‘Slick Willy‘. Martin Walker‘s political biography. the fruit ofeight years‘ experience as head of The Guardian‘s Washington ofﬁce. and ominously sub-titled ‘The President They Deserve‘. takes a detailed look at Bill and Hillary as consummate political operators. plagued by scandal and yet able to remain relatively untouched. But Walker is also particularly good on the mechanics of the American system itself. which, as he puts it, is ‘the best democracy money can buy‘.
Meanwhile across the pond. Tony Blair will be casting envious eyes at Clinton‘s achievement in occupying the middle ground. In New Britain: My Vision Oj'A Young Country, he sets out a wide-ranging agenda for national rejuvenation. covering issues from the abolition of the House of Lords to devolution for Scotland. and making plain his passionate desire to become Labour‘s comeback kid.
However. as the book is made up of selections culled from his recent speeches. it doesn‘t really tell us anything new. Rather. what emerges from the collection. is Blair‘s undoubted ﬂair as a motivator — for ‘the vision thing‘ over the nitty gritty of policy detail. Still. after seventeen moribund years of unrelieved dogmatism. hrrrnourlessness and greed. this can be no bad thing. (Marc
‘The President they deserve’: Slick Willy Clinton
I Junk Mail Will Self (Penguin £7.99) A brave title from the genius/tedious (delete as preferred) Self. this adds to a seemingly swelling trend for writers publishing anthologies of their published journalistic excursions. Split into two sections — Part One: On Drugs and Part Two: On Other Things — it is, with the exception of some rather lame cartoons. slick and immensely readable.
I The Underworld Duncan Campbell (Penguin £6.99) The latest snack to be thrown to the feeding frenzy which is the public‘s fascination with villains. this publication is a spin-off of the eponymous BBC series. Campbell. crime correspondent for The (hum/inn combines original material and extensive research. the result virtually an overview of the
IZOth century with obvious emphasis on
the ()()s. Solid.
I The First Man Albert Camus (Penguin £6.99) l.e Premier Horn/Ire is Camus' obligatory contribution to the library of great writers‘ unfinished novels. a work truncated by his death in a road accident in [960 and originally published 35 years later. Translated from the French. it is a semi-autobiographical account of a fatherless childhood in Algeria. footnoted. filled in. appendiced and suggested.
I The Beatles: Unseen John Howard (Penguin £9.99) Celebrity photojournalist Howard‘s ‘never seen before. previously unpublished Beatles photographs‘ is a smart enough. mainly black and white coffee-table montage of the 60s. Focused on the admittedly impressive Lennon shots from the set of Howl Won The War but particularly strong on the respective love interests of the band. With kangaroos.
I Mama Black Widow and The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim both iceberg Slim (Payback Press £5.99) Payback's latest revivals of black American writing demonstrate two sides to the psyche of a pimp extraordinaire. Munru Blue/r ll’irlow, the third of six inveigling ghetto novels. is a portrait of a bitter old woman as seen by her schizophrenic. drag queen son and The Naked Soul. . . a collection of hard- to-swallow observations from a life on the edge and in the gutter. (Susan Mackenzie)
I Esau Philip Kerr (Chatto 8: Windtrs £l5.99) Moving firmly into Boys‘ Own Adventure mode. Kerr sets his latest thriller in the glaciated valleys of the upper Himalayas. A team of scientists led by Swift. a palaeo-anthr'opologist. and Jack. a mountaineer. believe they have found a Yeti skull and are searching for a live one. Meanwhile. india and Pakistan are moving to the brink of nuclear war.
Kerr is nothing if not thorough and spends a large part of the book setting up the necessary scientific and mountaineering details to make the plot work. He is skilled enough to make the science sexy and. apart from a silly ‘guess the CIA agent‘ sub-plot. this is gripping stuff with some particularly stomach churning passages on the mountainside and a nice twist on the nuclear holocaust scenario. But while it is ripe for movie adaptation. you can't help feeling he is practising a craft. not an art. (Thom Dibdin)
trying to kick the habit.
But if he doesn’t want a Cigarette
what does he really want?
‘It’s addictive’, HARRY MATTHEWS, author of
The List l-l4 Nov l996 87