Shadows On The
Isaac Bashevis Singer (Hamish Hamilton £16.99) at i' 1: 1r
“Lima” . c "A.
Although he died in 1991, Singer’s body of work grows apace. Shadows On The Hudson —- serialised in The Jewrsh Daily Forward between 1957 and 1958 — is his fourth posthumous book and it’s cracking stuff.
Widely regarded as one of our blood- stained century's greatest novelists, Singer deals here With SUbJQCIS which echo through his work — the difficulty of religious belief in the face of the Holocaust, the corruption of Western society, man's basic inhumanity, But he Winds these themes around a framework more reminiscent of soap opera or farce than the philosophical novel
Centring on the main character of Hertz Grein, a JeWish businessman entangled in torrid extra-marital affairs, Singer explores the loves and cares of a huge cast, mixmg up faith and unfaithfulness, Mickey Rooney and Gehenna, This weighty novel can be Viewed as a blueprint for Singer's masterpiece, Enemies: A Love Story, but offers many pleasures in its own right (PR)
Julie Burchill (Weidenfeld & Nicolson £20) at t
The queen of the Opinionated rant has let us down. Our Jules, known for her venomous pen and sure-handed put- me-downs, has gone as soft as an orange fondant creme.
Burchill, who first dubbed Diana the ’People's Princess’, gave us column inches in The Guardian where she took a well-welded knife to the deification of Diana and the lumbering monolith that is the House of Windsor. Yet, here, in this glossy pic-punctuated tome, she leaves out the analysis and goes for full-on fawning. She may bad-mouth the philandering Charles and come up With some sharp lines on the Queen — her upper-lip is ’stiffer than her mother's preprandial G&T .’ but Burchill has clearly been seduced by Diana.
The epilogue poem says it all. Titled ’unfinished sympathy,’ Burchill's saccharine pen is unpalatable, closing With ’We won't forget her. Goodnight, sweet princess' (SB)
A Flat Man
Ivor Cutler (Arc £4) x t at If you have never heard Cutler's clipped
Glaswegian liIt, you cannot fully appreciate his poetry. Understated, faux naive and absurdist, his Wilfully simplistic verses work best when the reader hears — or imagines -- his distinctive delivery The obvrous reference point for newcomers is John Hegley
First published in 1977, this pocket- sized collection of 45 poems and three ’fillers’ contains a familiar range of SUDJOCI matter. Gently articulated are feelings of alienation, social deprivation, weird conversations With animals, haiku-like contemplations of essence and relationship, and out-and- out surrealism disgtiised as Wisdom (or is it the other way around7) Most pages are illustrated With Cutler's childisth scrawled draWings
lvor Cutler's finest work features sudden turns of sharp, bathetic humour — a tWist in the final line that throws solemnity on its head, but only a few examples are included here Some of the more solemn pieces have a spiritual resonance but many are Simply twee. (A8) I The audio version of A Flat Man is
released on Creation Records on Mon
Laurence O’Toole (Serpent's Tail £13.99) suntan:
One of James Ferman’s last acts as BBFC director was granting two hardcore movres the controversial R-18 certificate. Meanwhile, those working in the porn industry get on With their JObS, abiding by the law but always
, aware that today’s row over full-frontal
erotica c0uld turn into tomorrow's redundancy cheque.
Based on interViews and extensive research covering Britain and the US, this timely study of modern porn and its evolution is a revelation. Opening With well-argued deconstructions of
' obscenity, indecency and the notion of
'sex objects’, the subsequent analysis of Britain's tame soft-core business and America's more diverse market has even greater impact. Internet porn and cybersex are also placed in a cultural framework but the book is no academic treatise. O'Toole has a way With anecdotes, knows a good Joke and takes no prisoners when it comes to censorship. His agenda is freedom of sexual expression but because he’s done his homework, the stOry tells itself (DM)
Continued over page
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