BOOKS new titles


Truman Capote

George Plimpton (Picador, £20)

it fr * 3%

Born in New Orleans and died in New York: the prefix of both cities suits

; Truman Capote, a man who was

irresistiny novel. He gatecrashed literature aged 22 With first novel

Other Voices, Other Rooms. By the

time he drank and doped himself to death at the age of 60 in 1984 he was a superstar socialite who could count Sinatra among his friends, and Mailer

among his enemies. People so famous

they don’t have first names.

Plimpton's 'oral biography’ is aptly subtitled: 'In which various friends, enemies, acquaintances and detractors recall his turbulent career'. Through a series of interViews, he blends the voices of those who knew Capote at various times of his life. The reader becomes a priVileged eavesdropper at one of Capote’s Jet-set shindigs where the only topic of conversation is the jUicy life of the host. This makes for poor literary appraisal but the best BOO-page gossip column money can buy. (PR)


Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Arabella Weir (Hodder and Stoughton £5.99) ht 1k

An incestuoust close relation to last year's (in Cosmo-speak) 'must-have' read, Bridget Jones’ Diary, this is the altogether less pretentious, if no less neurotic, diary of Jacqueline M. Pane. Familiar to Viewers of The Fast Show,

j worries are iomed by the trials of

innocents tumbling out in a manic

story, in the form of a letter, diary,

Truman Capote

the single thirtysomething’s weight

family, sex and social life. Female empathy guaranteed (SM)


John Seabrook (Faber and Faber £6.99) rt it it

On one level, this is deeply disturbing book, but step back and take stock and a different picture emerges Documenting Seabrook's two-year love affair with the Internet, this is the world of ’cyber-sex', flame wars and Bill Gates, the big banana. Is the Internet fundamentally altering human nature, or is it all overkill, promoted by social misfits? (SM)

Human Croquet

Kate Atkinson (Black Swan £6.99) *****

NON-FICTION The Encyclopaedia Of ' Ps choactive

Su stances

Richard Rudgley (Little, Brown

£18.99) * * *

While your average combatant in

the War on Drugs is convinced they are fighting a modern

phenomenon, the fact is that recreational and other uses of psychoactive substances go to prehistoric times.

In this overtly academic work, Rudgley has perused ancient and modern literature to find evidence for drug-use. On modern substances such as Ecstasy his approach is delightfully naive, but for more ancient plants such as mandrake, henbane and belladonna, he is in his element and is consequently fascinating.

Unsurprisingly the entheogens mind-altering substances used for religious or shamanistic purposes - have left the greatest mark on literature and provided evidence in archaeological finds. Some are enticingly arcane. Witch’s flying ointments, made from a variety of hallucinogenic and other substances, were spread topically, possibly into the vagina with a broomstick, and caused the user to ’experience' flying and other out-of. body effects.

Encyclopaedia is, however, a misnomer for this book. Rudgley has deliberater omitted alcohol on the grounds that ‘it requires a work to be dedicated to it alone’. Yet his entries for other widely used substances are far from complete. No mention is made of Rastafarianism under cannabis (a prime entheogenic use if ever there was one) and coffee gets a solitary page. For such an academic work, the index is woefully inadequate - although the bibliography will provide many hours of happy library research.

A useful and fascinating, if flawed, addition to the debate on contemporary drug use. (Thom Dibdin)

A glorious Successor to the Whitbread winning Behind The Scenes At The Museum. Returning to, but expanding upon, the theme of famin dysfunction, the story of the suburban Fairfaxes is related through the eyes of daughter Isobel, the fate and fOibIes of estranged parents, eccentrics and

stream of consciousness, (SM)

Stalking Fiona NigelWilliams (Granta £5.99) as aw

In something of a departure for Granta, Williams, author of The Wimbledon POisoner, gives us this thriller comedy. Unfortunately, it’s not funny. Fiona McMillan is a workaday secretary, until the day she receives a package containing versions of her life

Journal and disk. Which is true and

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i murderer? (SM)


An interesting character, Berg is best ; known as a children's author, but can

I barking is a fairly safe bet. Question is, was there method in the madness?

i Facing his ultimate trip, death, Leary

; decided to put his thoughts on the big one in print, his ethos being that we should control our deaths and the associated circus. And yes, he talks about drugs. (SM)

which makes one of her colleagues a

Leila Berg (Granta £6.99) t* at

claim fame as a defence Witness in the Oz trial. Here, she reVisits her own childhood and adolescence, spent amidst Salford's staunch JeWish community in the 20s and 30s, ending With the outbreak of war. Snatched


Brian Donaldson, Rodger Evans, Damien Love, Alison Maxwell, Susan Mackenzie, Stephen Naysmith, Peter

fragments of memory are drawn into a Ross coherent Whole With charm. (SM) 3 Desrgn For Llfe ; STAR RATINGS Timothy Leary with RU. Sirius : ggmhgfle W V (Thornsons £8.99) 1H: it h” Won 3 shot i That Timothy Leary IS dead is i it * Below average f undeniable That Timothy Leary was ! You V9 been Warned

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