The Blonde On The Street Corner
David Goodis (Serpent's Tail £6.99)
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You’d be hard pushed to find anything, outside an actual film script, as Cinematic as this classic piece of pulp trash written in 1956. Caoodis uses the natural flow and ebb of conversation and the spiky rhythm of his language like an editing scalpel It's as sparse and lean as the book's downtrodden hero Ralph, an unemployed loser in 1936 Philadelphia.
Ralph |0iters on the street Without hope One woman, a dim-Witted friend’s sister-in-law, wants to use him for lust Another yearns after him for love, as he does for her. But, Without hope, his ending is ineVItable. This is film norr, Without the redemption or cash otherWise it would have made it onto the silver screen long ago, Instead, it leaves the bitter taste of reality in the mouth and the skin creeping, goose-fleshed, With the sort of cold and crude calculation bred by real poverty (TD)
Notebooks Of A Naked
Billy Childish (Codex £7.95) With around 70 LPs (many under the name Thee ’i-leadcoats) and 30 books of poetry to his credit, Billy Childish has amassed a modest but not inconsiderable cult fol?ow:ng on both sides of the Atlantic. After the harroWing, autobiographical My Fault, this is only his second novel, told through the dlstorting lens of a self- important, paranoid young waster who believes himself to be a great writer lust waiting to be discovered
The narrator seems familiar to us already from Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books, but Mole's diaries were never this pus-encrusted and boil- infestecl, not so brimming over With a self-disgust that makes the very pages seem stic ky As hzs "‘ad less takes over, the distance between reaérty and delirium become nc reasingiy blurred until it is impossible to distingush between them It .sc;ro1;r‘ci that's been trodden before, but Ch.Ic:':sh's vrsceral style has a way o‘ keepz'tg its hooks in (All;
Mrs Einstein Anna lvchraiI (Doubiedav £l5.99) N s' ‘2‘: I Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the greatest thinker of our t'fne, the sl‘oc k-haired pa: 'f'st \.‘.“o heralded the age of the atomic bomb, harboured a skeleton in the fa'nriy c Loset
McGrail's second novel seeks to add fictional fiesn to the factual bones of Lieserl, Einstein's iilegitimate first born who was given up for adoption Within months of her birth and left to a fate of whzc h history can tell us I:ttle Rat ing through the tumult of the 20th century, from rural anonymity in the Austiian-Hungarian empire through racketeering in 20s Vienna to stalking her father in post-Weimar Berlin and
weapons testing in 40s New lvleXico, Lieserl is single minded in her aim -- to haunt her father.
This is an absorbing 10urney around the man who described the beauty of life in an equation and who insisted god wasn’t playing dice With the universe when his own life Suggested otherWIse, (RE)
The Pardon of Saint
William Palmer (Vintage £6.99)
Nurturing a passion for photography while grOWing up in pre-war Germany, Walther Klinger is blissfully unaware that cruel circumstance Will eventually deliver him to the Nazis as a society photographer. His sense of unease grows as the war looms. Drawing in facets of several genres, Palmer's prose is economic and atmospheric With unsettling undertones. (SM)
Empire State Colin Bateman (HarperCollins £6.99)
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Bateman's fourth novel, this is another slice of high-speed buffoonery returning to his familiar Irish-American connection Nathan Jones is an Irishman in New York. As a security guard at the Empire State Building, he is facing his toughest task yet: a presidential Visit. Cue political mayhem in the shape of a White supremacist With assassmation on his mind, (Slvl)
The Raven Peter Landesman (Flamingo £6.99)
Extrapolating his debut novel from a real-life tragedy, Landesman ponders the curious circumstances Surrounding the sinking of American pleasure boat, The Raven, :n 1941 Only the bodies of the captain, naked and lashed to a keg, and the women were recovered What happened to the men7 Spanning four decades of speCUIation and trauma, this is an engrossing read. (SM)
A Short Series of Discrete Problems
Steven Jacobi (Vintage £6.99) s a Bullied by his father, Wislon Needy has grown up pig ugly With nae pals, a non-eXistent sex life and a dead-end ;ob Something's got to give, and gu:ckly In theory, it's a tempting plot but the main problem With this novel is an irritating, self-obsessed protagonist who fails to spark ‘he reader's
:rnag: ration (SM)
REVIEWERS THIS ISSUE:
Thom Dibdin, Brian Donaldson, Rodger Evans, Susan Mackenzie, Alastair lvlabbott
The Sunday Rhymes: Spoken Word Sun 28 Dec. 3-5pm. Brel. 3‘) Ashton Lane. 342 4966. Viv (iee hosts an afternoon of' poetry with special guests Jill Peacock and Paul Welsh.
The Near Room
(18) 86 mins as it as s
The rancid, seedy underbelly of Glasgow is torn open in DaVid Hayman's thri!ler Adrian Dunbar plays a hac k iournalist who takes on the Job of tracking down a girl tied into a sex and drugs scandal — only to discover that she is the daughter he had to give away when he was a teenager Dark SUDJC’CI matter is perfectly matched With atmospheric lighting and design, making this the single most unsung creative triumph in Scotland's film renaissance (Fox Pathe)
The Fifth Element
(PG) 121 mins a is was
Director Luc Besson spends so much time getting the details exactly right that he loses sight of the overall picture, and the result is a sloppy piece of storytelling that's hiin On effects, low on genuine excitement Bruce Willis is the futuristic cab driver who accidentally finds himself protecting an alien girl who might JUSI be able to save the world. As for Gary Oldman’s weird-accented bad guy — why7 (Fox Pathe)
(12) 104 mins 2s- at
Hollywood didn’t get either of its lava moVies right in 1997 Dante’s Peak plays it straighter than Volcano, but gets itself tangled amongst all sorts of cliches Will the lost pet come bounding out of the dust at the last minute7 Take a guess Pierce Brosnan fills in time between Bond adventures as an expert called in to check out tremors in a small American town The arguments he has With local bigvvigs are far too rerriiniscent of Jaws and the love angle With Linda Hamilton never starts to simmer, far less erupt (CIC)
(15) 90 mins tr 15’ a
If you can tune your mind into the black coiriedy that laces this satire on the hypocrisies of English reserve, there are some rewards to be found In the 50s, mode' housewife lvlariorie (Julie Walters) takes in a new lodger :Rupert Caravesi and, to her atterripts to seduce him, uses soriie not-tor:~subtie sexual and ernot-onai b'ackmazl Waiters is on good form and the claustrophobic atmosphere hints at what really goes on behind those nice net curtains (Fox Pathe)
Men, Women: A User's Manual
(12) 122 mins tar
The spurned lover of a wonianismg businessman gets a chance for revenge, when she swaps his medical results for those of an undercover cop With a terminal illness. The two men bond and the sick one gets healthy while the healthy one reassesses his capitalistic ways. Claude Lelouch's contemporary moral satire is stylishly shot, but long set-piece conversations and spurious sub-plots increase the boredom factor. Former politiCian and disgraced Marseille football club chairman Bernard Tapie is a real discovery, however, and his strong personality dominates the fllm, (Tartan £15.99)
Alien Box Set
(18) 360 mins * i it 1r
If you want to get the best from the recently released Alien Reswrection, make sure you're boned up on the previous three instalments. Each is marked by its director's individual style: Ridley Scott’s suspenseful character piece is followed by James Cameron's shoot-'em-up and DaVid Fincher’s expensive art mowe in space. But it's Ridley's developing relationship with the alien species and Sigourney Weaver’s rounded performance that really draws interest once the scares and screams are taken care off.
(Fox £34.99 fullscreen/f3999 Widescreen)
(PG) 115 mins air ﬁr ir 1k
Two teenagers are separated by the Berlin Wall when SOphie escapes through the sewers but Konrad stays behind. Director Margarethe von Trotta has the material for a truly great love story, but her goals are Wider than tear-sodden hankies. She depicts the East as a cold, regulated place Where human feelings are subserVient to Moscow's desires, but also suggests that Konrad’s deCision not to JO”) his lover in a daring break is more personal than political. Epic in historical scope, The Promi’se's open ending hints that the collapse of the Wall may have come too late for a certain generation.
(ArtifICIal Eye £15.99)
F ; I D 9 "t
Huh-huh-huh, he said column: our badly drawn cartoon heroes visit Washingon DC in Beavis And Butthead Do America (12, 79 mins, tit). Available to rent and buy
at £10.99 from Mon 29 Dec. 19 Dec 1997—8 Jan 1998 THE lIST 107