Sandy lamieson (Ringwood £7.99)
*** sir In 1988 the then Prime Minister,
Margaret Thatcher, attended the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden to be met by a sea of red cards held up by the fans to let her know their opinion on the Poll Tax and her party’s apparent apathy towards Scotland. Celtic won the final 2-1 but that’s another story. In Own Goal, Sandy Jamieson takes this Tory PR disaster as his inspiration but shoves it along a little further by imagining a plot to assassinate That Bloody Woman. The reasons behind the lone sniper's goal are simultaneously ludicrous and logical. Sympathy, or the lack of, will mainly be down to the reader’s choice of team or party affiliation. For a detailed and entertaining look at the ironies and inconsistencies inherent in Scottish football and politics, there is no need to look any further than Jamieson's latest novel. Simply riveting. (BD)
The Big Picture
Dou las Kennedy (Abacus £16.99 hard ack, £9.99 paperback) *** Any genre-hoppers up for the great American noir shopping novel? Perhaps you’d prefer an existential black comedy romantic thriller? Not necessarily a dilemma when London- based New Yorker Kennedy has penned a ballyhoo tale that takes in soulless suburbia, murder, the male menopause, and half the plot from The Fugitive. Aptly enough, the film rights have been sold for a cool million (when is a million anything but cool?), netting the author nearly as much mullah as his characters fritter on designer wear/photographic equipment/DIY materials/colonial antiques. All prices helpfully supplied in brackets. Excluding tax. It all makes for a frothy read and Kennedy has a gift for acerbic dialogue and deconstruction of personality stereotypes. But the perfect crime is perhaps too perfect, the loose ends maybe too neat, and the plot twists arguably too well signposted. No doubt it will make for a cracking Harrison Ford movie. (RE)
Esther Freud (Viking £16.99) *1” Apparently the only time Esther Freud could get the chance to really talk to her dad was when she modelled for him. Lucian Freud, the painter of blotchy, pinkish nudes slunk across sofas in London flats, is not it seems, the most chatty of fathers.
Freud draws on this relationship in her third novel, Gag/ow. Sarah, a pregnant actress, poses for her father. As he paints, she asks question and he slowly reveals the life and World War II times of their German forebears, the Belgard family.
Interspersed with present day narrative, are throwbacks to Germany: the three Belgard sisters growing up, the only son going off to war and the officious governess Fraulein Schulze, all set against the backdrop of the family estate, Gaglow.
Ultimately, the novel traces a family's evolution that is punctuated with familial upsets and tortured love, yet at times the tracery is not so much feint but fails to engage. (SB)
Boys Like Us
Edited by Patrick Merla (Fourth Estate
£14.99) sunk . It is inevitable that most stories in any
collection about coming out are going to be painful and difficult — but as Boys Like Us shows, they don't all have to be that way. This American anthology brings together memories punctuated just as much with laughs and jokes as tears and anger. Well known gay writers like Edmund White and Samuel Delaney are br0ught together with less famous authors to recount their own tales of coming out to friends, siblings, colleagues — and of course parents. The stories are arranged in chronological order from the years after World War ll, when restrictions on gay life were much greater, to the 90s, illustrating how life for gay men has in some ways become easier and in others, remained frustratingly the same. Each writer approaches the subject in his own way but the themes of courage and love are constant. A rewarding collection for those looking back — or forward — to coming out. (MS)
are pleased to welcome
to the Princes Street Megostore ot lpm on Tuesday 27th May. FISH will be signing copies of his new album Sunsets on Empire
and will appear at The Venue, Colton Rood that night.
asrnsusr 16—29 May 1997
Terry Southern (Bloomsbury £6.99 each title)
Voices that roar against the stars-and- stripes values of modern America are few and far between. Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks used microphones to project their anger at consumer greed, moral hypocrisy and the country's obsession with sex. Terry Southern pre-dates them both and, as the prime satirist of hip America, prefers to push the limits of biting humour and sexual explicitness on the printed page. Because of the general unavailability of his books until now, Southern is perhaps best known for his screenwriting credits on the likes of Doctor Strange/ave and Easy Rider. l-lis novels. however, have been praised by
William Burroughs, Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer - but condemned and
censored by others.
Decades on. Southern's prose still shocks. Candy (***), co-written with Mason Hoffenberg. has its female protagonist falling innocently into the sex~starved, sweaty paws of every man she meets; Blue Movie (****) brilliantly sends up the obsessions of the film industry as the world’s greatest director makes a multi-million dollar, hardcore porn blockbuster. Southern’s first novel, Flash & Filigree (1r *) has the feel of a world of grotesques just slightly out of alignment with our own; while The Magic Christian (****) features a billionaire who uses his wealth to play practical jokes on all and sundry. In Southern's universe, those who have the power of gods tend to act instead like mischievous devils. (Alan Morrison)
Tales From Ovid
Ted Hughes (Faber and Faber £7.99) ****
The School Bag
Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes (Faber and Faber £12.99) fr it
For many, the Poet Laureate’s obsessive subject matter and leering style gets in the way of his masterful command of language. These reworkings of OVid's tales of the good, bad and godly find him mowng forward by looking back. The same cannot be said for the anthology The Schoo/ Bag. Its reliance on difficult classics, anonymous Celts and its lack of anything much contemporary will fail to charm the children at whom it is aimed. Ovid, a contemporary of Christ and a rival to Shakespeare as bard of bards, retold the meatiest of the Myths With pace and passion, and Hughes deftly captures this revelling in the gore and goo of the transformations, as men turn into stags and women turn into (and from) stone, A glossary helps the reader follow familiar tales, 'Pygmalion' and ’Midas’, alongside minor epics to delight those who relish the thought of two Sisters ripping ltys’ 'hot little body into pulsating gobbets’. (RL)
A Perfect Execution
Tim Binding (Picador £5.99) at ‘k at * Spanning the 30s to the 60s, Binding’s second novel tells the tangled tale of Jeremiah Bembo, a market gardener leading a double life as Solomon Straw, State Executioner. Carrying out his duties flawlessly, the societal sea change of the 60s cOincides With a murder which shakes his integrity, Surprisingly compulsive and morally challenging. (SM)
The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
Roddy Doyle (Minerva £6.99) *****
Written With a greater gravitas than previous novels but equally warm and Witty, Doyle does a marvellous job of unfolding the mind of Paula Spencer. Young and hopelessly in love she marries charismatic Charlo, a petty criminal and wife-beater. Years later, and free, she must rebUIld her life whilst fighting alcoholism, poverty and self doubt. (SM)
Ben Elton (Pocket Books £5.99) * at it Less moralising than has been suggested, Elton’s stab at Hollywood Violence is also a satire of the Hollywood novel. Cult killer movie director, the wonderfully-named, cinematic style guru Bruce Delamitri is at the peak of his career, an Oscar beckoning. On his trail are the Mall Murderers, the aim of their gun frenzy to turn fiction into fact. (SM)
My Silver Shoes
Nell Dunn (Bloomsbury £6.99)
tr t ‘k *
An underrated writer, Dunn epitomised the 60s With classic novels such as Up The Junction and Poor Cow which, 30 years on, is revwed in this sequel. Now middle-aged, Joy is experiencing a second youth, her son havmg joined the army, by taking a new lover and movmg into the council flat next to mother, (SM)
REVIEWERS THIS ISSUE:
Susanna Beaumont, Brian Donaldson, Rodger Evans, Damien Love,
Roddy Lumsden, Susan Mackenzie, Mark Smith.
STAR RATINGS i it it ii iii Outstanding in” * Recommended i sir i Worth a try * it 50-50 at Poor