new titles


The Talk Of The Town Ardal D'llanlon (Sceptre f, IO)

If you were asked to descrrbe tfrrs novel by way of a colour sc herrre, you'd have to say rt was predorrrrrrarrtly black Blacker than a plrorrebox frllecl wrth shadows drearrrt up by the last Show's exrsterrtral water colorrrrst Blacker, even, than the robes sported by O'llanlorr's rrrore farrrrlrar alter ego, [)ougal Magtrrre, the loveable prrest who put the rd rn rdrot rn Father Ted Okay, there are other hues envy green, rage red, brurse-easy yellow, brrt rt srrre rs a dark world rrrfrabrted by srrrall-town boy l’atrrc k Sc trlly lle steals, he drrnks, he lusts Regrets, he's had a few, but then again he rs a (harmless loser wrth a c harn of Harry Rarrrsden’s on erther shoulder ()‘Hanlon's debut rs a well told tale of ernotrorral atrophy and descent rnto madness, brrt there's lrttle room for errrpatlry or corrrpassrorr or even rederrrptrorr (archer In The Rye wrthorrt the laughs, anyone? (RE)

The Safe House Nicci French (Michael Joseph £10)

Sarrr Lascherr, prorreerrng specralrst rn post-traumatrc stress, leaves London for the bleak Essex fenlarrds Wrth her young daughter l'lsre, lravrng secured the Job of her dreams Vrsrons of rural rdyll corrvrrrce her that, not only er| she have rrrore trrne to spend wrth Elsre, she'll complete her book, sort out her relationship wrth lover Danny, go for long walks rn the country and plant bulbs

When the savage rrrurders of a local busrnessrrran and hrs wrle leave therr daughter Frnn severely traurnatrsed, the polrce, percervrng a contrnued threat to her lrfe, prevail upon Sam to provrde a safe-house, agarnst her better rudgement. Naturally, things go horrrbly wrong and Sam has to frglrt for her very survrval

The Safe House rs certarnly readable Sam and Elsie are nicely observed, although at trrnes the dralogue rs laboured and unconvrncrng, If not a seat-edge thriller -- rt’s pretty obvrous who's up to what rt's enjoyable, nonetheless (AS)

Manchester United Ruined My Life

Colin Shindlernleadlrne {1.199)

Manchester United ruinerl my life Ullth SHINDIEP.

Prty the Manchester ( rty supporter Recently relegated, outshone by then Old Trafford rivals and beset by one managerial frasco after another, rt‘s not easy on the heart and sprrrt followrng the Sky Blues Colrn Shrndler has done Just that for most of hrs lrfe and the resultrng mernorr rs a brttersweet rerrrerrrbrarrce of teams past and an rnvestrgatron rnto the parallels between hrs club's varyrrrg fortunes and the often traurnatrc events of hrs Jewrsh upbrrrrgrng and adult lrfe

Shrndler’s arrrrable and arrrblrng style burns wrth a phosphorescerrc e of love for Crty and hatred for rrrodern Unrted's ’subservrence of God to Mammon' Whrle rerrrarrrrng ernrrrently readable throughout, the presence of Shrndler's pseudo-Proustran personal moments often drstrac ts from the sportrng hrstory and one ends up wrth the feelrng that hrs lootballrng knowledge rrrrglrt have been better served as an obrec trve record of ( rty's hrghs and lows In the end, rt's a rrrrldly drstractrng Fever Prtch for your dad's generatron (CD)

The Old Religion David Mamet (Faber 8r Faber (9.99)

As if in rebellron agarnst the drarnatrc forms that made hrs name, Marrret sets hrs second novel almost exclusrvely rnsrde the head of rts central character The SlJl)](’(l of thrs true story rs Leo Frank, a Jewrsh busrnessrnan rn Georgra, who was falsely convrc ted of the rape and rrrurder of an employee rn I915

Comparrsons are rnevrtable Wrth Mamet's play O/eanna, rn whrc h a man rrrrpotently faces rurn over false allegations of sexual rnrscorrdrrct But here, the drarnatrc events a((usatron, arrest, trial, sentence and the (hrllrng conc Iusron form a ha/y, drspassronately told background Both Frank's metaphysical 'rurrrrnatrons' on race, status, farth and socrety and the rnrnutrae of everyday lrfe are brought to the fore

The strands of Frank’s consc rousness

more rranral debatrng chamber than rnterror monologue are complex and the dralogue (such as rt rs) rs as hrghly vernacular, rdrosyrrcratrc and (erJOIrrletl as Mamet's scripts But the reward for perseverance rs a subtle and compassronate account of Jewrsh rdentrty rn (rrsrs (AB)


Russell Banks (Secker I5. Warburg £l6.99)

Having seen his novel, The Sweet Hereafter, become an acclaimed movie, Russell Banks has turned his gaze to the American anti- slavery movement of the 18405 and 505.

Cloudsplitter is the tale of legendary radical abolitionist John Brown, whose doomed raid of 1859 on the Federal arsenal arguably kick-started the Civil War. It's narrated by his troubled son Owen at the turn of the century.

Like recent efforts from the heavyweight likes of Roth, Pynchon and DeLillo, Cloudsplitter is an attempt to fill out the impressionist panorama of American history with individual detail. Hugh Brogan's authoritative History Of The United States Of

and an America riven by them.


America dismisses Brown as a ’half-crazy, horse-stealing fanatic', but Banks takes 758 pages to do justice to an American driven by his beliefs

Cloudsplitter is the story of both a man and an entire nation. The nation at war with itself is reflected in Owen, whom we see grow from boyhood

to infirmity, irrevocably split between following his God-like father and

following the dream of American selfhood. Above all, this is Owen's tale, and it is as a Bildungsroman that Cloudsplitter works best. A big, thumping heart of a book. (Peter Ross)

Everlasting Story Of Nory

Nicholson Baker (Clratto & Wirrdus tugmssss ere Baker's debut, The Me/xanrne, thrs novel revels rn the rrrrnrrtrae of rrrodern lrfe Thrs trrne around, v.e're treated to an rnsrde vrew of the rnrrrd of an Amerrc an (hrld spendrng a term at an finglrsh publrc school

Nory tells stones to her dolls about plucky lrerorrres called Marrana or Amne/ra who cope wrth house frres and burnrng rarn rn the desert She wonders why you get seedy parts rn crtres, why Ac hrlles' ankle drdn’t rust fall off, and how a straw could break a camel's bac k Wouldn't rt JtlSl kneel down7

The book sparkles with hundreds of srrnrlar meanderrng trarns of thought but Nory rs so engagrng, you can't help but be drawn rnto her world Outsrcle her head, the bullying of a school frrend rs a way for Nory, frnally, to becorrre jllSl as much a herorne as Marrarra, Amne/ra and the rest A delrglrtful novel (DL)


The Benefits of Passion Catherine Fox (Penguin £6.99) v s «-

Ho, hum Here's another angsty, semr- theologrc al tale of a mrddle-c lass clerrc But, though far from orrgrrral, Fox, herself a vrcar's ere, brrngs a sense of humour and lack of pomposrty to the trrals of Annre Brown, a frustrated ordrnand who dec rdes to wrrte a bunk buster and, perhaps, act rt out (SM)

Closing Ranks Dirk Bogarde (Penguin £5.99)


Often overlooked as a frc tron wrrter, Bogarde's srxth novel rs subtly

subversrve Thr- Srayles of Hartleap, | Sussex, an up: -"~class farrrrly With an

rrnpressrve history, gather at the deathbed of therr Nanny But a can of worms rs opened when she proclarrns therr war hero father as 'wrcked' and son Rufus as 'tarnted' Cornbrnrng classrc story-tellrng Wrth surprrsrng modernrty, thrs rs the most satisfyrng read rn a long trrrre (SM)

The Dancing Face Mike Phillips (HarperCollins £6.99)


A multr-layered tlrrrller Wllft a pleasrneg pulpy edge, Phrllrps' latest prvots round Brrtarn’s acgursrtron of a Benrnorse mask known as Danc rng Face. Drrverr by personal garn, polrtrcrans, crrmrnals and collectors all have therr own reasons for covetrng the mask as lecturer Gus and his brother Danny drscover when they are draws rnto the artefac t's unpleasant web (SM)

The God Of Small Things Arundhati Roy (Flamingo £6.99)


A colourful srmrle-rrch Jrgsaw of fragmented narratrve tells the sensual rmage-Iaden story of twrns Rahel and Estha and therr lndran chrldhoods. Last year’s Booker wrnner starts off like an ancient colonral steam trarn, chuggrng along for the frrst two thrrds of the novel, burldrrrg up a head of steam, untrl rt careers uncontrollany to a devastating denouernent (GS)


Andrew Burnet, Thom Drbdrn, Brran Donaldson, Clark Dunn, Rodger Evans, Dawn Lrndsey, Susan Mackenzre, Peter Ross, Gabe Stewart, Alrson Stroak


i t a k v: Unmissable

« w i it Very 00d

. 1: It Wort a shot

a * Below average

* You've been warned

r4 28 May r998 rrr: usr 101