Fit Like, New York?
Peter Innes (Evening Express £10.95)
it ‘k 1: In writing his 'irreverent history of rock
music in Aberdeen and North East Scotland', Peter Innes makes no attempt to convince anyone that the North East has really made an invaluable contribution to rock 'n' roll (bar, perhaps, Annie Lennox, Billy Bremner and Big Jim Paterson from Dexy's). This allows his tongue freedom to wander in and out of cheek at will.
This is the tale of the enthusiasm whipped up by the arrival of rock 'n' roll in a provincial, rural area from the SOs onwards — a story which has analogues in every country outside the USA - but this one is distinguished by an extra dollop of couthiness. For proof, look no further than the drummer who, finally tracked down after having a drum kit out on approval from a shop for three whole years, blithely announced, ‘it's nae for me, I'll bring it back on Monday'. (AM)
Geoff Dyer (Abacus £9.99) * *t
In Paris, two non-Parisian, twenty- something couples — Luke and Nicole, Alex and Sahra — meet and develop a relationship of a special, serene and intense intimacy. And thereby hangs a tale. Or rather, thereby hangs no tale at all, for in Paris Trance Dyer has fashioned a book which disappears in the very process of its reading.
Still, this is in keeping with its title — the book sketches an extended moment, one of endless potential, of people living within a haze within a bubble, within the city of dreams. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the pressing aftermath waiting beyond the fragile skin.
That Dyer can write is beyond question, but there is a wilfully unsatisfactory quality to the book, and perhaps a disingenuity to Dyer's early suggestion that 'the events recorded here concerned only a handful of people and, quite probably, are of interest only to those people . . .' (DL)
Nicholas Blincoe (Picador £9.99)
* it * at
kw write contemporaneous fiction of the underground with any literary credibility. Blincoe is one of the few who know how to use drugs to drive the plot, rather than have their characters use drugs purely for shock effect.
On the surface, this is a hard-bitten noir thriller — having been away from Manchester for fifteen years, a casino bouncer returns to the scenes of his depraved youth to hunt down the killer of an old friend. Even though Blincoe makes his lead character act on emotionless noir-autOpilot, he writes with twists so deft that, underneath the posing and screwing, snorting and cruising of Manchester's gay village, there's a story with teeth sharp enough to draw blood.
Towards the end those twists slip through the credibility gap into the territory of contrivance. Yet even then, you need to keep turning those pages to discover where the hedonism will end and the real pain begin. (TD)
Scipio Ross Leckie (Canongate £15.99) ****
A NOVEL BY
Let us be empirical for a moment. Empires are built on trade, trade relies on capital, and capital with an ism is, as any good Marxist will tell you, riddled with contradictions. The great contradiction and yet also the strength of the Roman Empire was that, according to Leckie, it was built upon both reason and superstition.
But what, in the comedic rhetoric of Monty Python, have the Romans ever done for us? Scipio was a patriarch and warrior who would have obliged with a cogent, nae euphonic answer. This fictional account of the saviour of Rome, conqueror of Africa, and nemesis of Hannibal - the subject of the author's preceding novel - is brightly evocative, drawing on history, language, philosophy, the art of war, and good old supposition. It is an erudite and immensely human story of fate, family and friendship from within a warped civilisation to which, like it or not, we owe much today. (RE)
Simon Conway (Canongate £9.99) ** 1r
Families are built on manipulation. But while most of us leave it at borrowing money, here it is taken to its extreme. Forming an astoundineg brutal trio, Calum finds himself led astray by lust for his cousin Madelene, and by loyalty to Seb, her hard-nut brother.
Seb plans to screw over anyone who ever let him down and while Madelene’s just in it for badness, it's a question of honour for Cal. But it's a scheme of much greater proportions than Cal realises and ultimately, conned and betrayed, he must learn to just say no.
Flashbacks punctuate the action which switches across Chechnya, post- ceasefire Northern Ireland and a remote island off Scotland, as Conway gradually draws us into a dark menacing unden~orld where violence knows no bounds. Quite visibly a first novel which is at times too self- concious and cliched, but succeeds in painting a portrait of a world at once attractive and repellent. (C P)
STAR RATINGS t i * st * Outstandin t t * * Recommen * *ir Worth a try * it $0.50 1h Poor
WILL BE COMING
TO GLASGOW and will be Signing
“A Widow For One Year”
(Bloomsbury - £16. 99)
on Friday 24th April 1998 at 1.00 pm in
JOHN SMITH 8i SON
57 St Vincent Street Glasgow G2 5TB Tel: 0141 221 7472 Fax: 0141 248 4412 e-mail: email@example.com http://www.johnsmith.co.uk
*One of only three UK Signing Sessions.
16-30 Apr 1998 TIIE usr 101