SOCIO-POLITICALTHRILLER Blast From The Past
Ben Elton (Bantam £15.99) * it t t
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BLAST FROM THE PAST
Readrng lrke a treatrse on gender polrtrcs at some trmes, and at others lrke the scrrpt for the next Gold Blend campargn, Ben Elton's latest offering rs a brt of a queer one
Blast From The Past rs basrcally a love story, albert a slrghtly twrsted one. It explores love rn all rts many forms ~ couples, srblrngs, a stalker and hrs prey, a man and hrs career, and a woman and her beliefs. No matter how hard they try, none of them can do anything to avert the rnevrtable destructron to which thrs powerful emotron leads them.
As always, Ben Elton rs toprcal to the pornt of clarrvoyancy, Illustrated rn thrs case by the rnclusron of the US Presrdent embrOrled rn an unfortunate rncrdent wrth a female member of hrs staff who doesn’t take TGJQCIIOI‘) Irghtly.
Fast, funny and thought-provoking, thrs Will no doubt be frftlt In a lrne of best-sellers from the man With the razor-sharp pen. IKK)
Personal Delivery Duncan McLaren (Quartet £12) if at
When rt came to handrng out ratrons of nerve and verve, Duncan McLaren was not short-changed. Much lrke that other modern age ponderer, Alarn de Botton, McLaren muses on lrfe and rts
94 THELIST 24 Sen 8 Oct 1998
attendant baggage - and has the wherewithal to get it published.
In theory, this should work. McLaren ambles around the country from London’s ICA to Glasgow’s CCA, talking art and encounters. All rs liberally dosed wrth domestrc asrdes and ruminations on life — how Richard Long's show at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery rnsprred McLaren to take a long walk; how Joanna (an often mentroned character) teaches hrm to use a soup spoon, how the hunt for the exact locatron of a photograph by Davrd Shrigley rn Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park leads to bizarre dealings with local youths.
Yet fallrng short of berng erther amusrng or rnsrghtful, Personal Delivery is exactly what the trtle says. McLaren has gone publrc wrth the personal and sadly rt has not translated that well. (SB)
NEW FICTION Leading The Cheers
Justin Cartwright (Sceptre £16.99) ***A
A trrp down memory lane turns into a sprrrtual Journey for redundant advertrsrng exec Dan Silas when he returns home for hrs hrgh-school reunron. Hrs romantrcrsed rmages of small-town Amerrca are challenged as he encounters hrs past head on, and realrses that thrngs weren’t quite the way he remembers them.
Leading The Cheers rs an exploratron rnto rnterpersonal relationships with the message that you are never really fully aware of the impact yOur presence has on other lrves. Silas rs forced to confront thrs rssue, and begrns to question the motrves for hrs past behavrour. In turns both tragrc and cornrc, Iustrn Cartwrrght's srxth novel has the drstrnctrve brttersweet style whrch has prevrously put hrm on both the Booker and Whrtbread shortlrsts. Here, he has created a frctronal world whrch lrves on rn the mrnd even when the cover rs closed. Easy to read, hard to put down. (KK)
POETRY Chasing Rainbows
Carly Rab (Wild Hamster Press £2.99) 4r 3*
Books lrke thrs are made possrble by wrrters’ workshops, poems and prnts sessrons and cheap desktop-publishrng software. Grven these resources, you
can begin writing poetry, gain enough confidence to read it in public, and eventually put together your own slim volume of verse.
Carly Rab’s poems are not bad. They cover subjects like family and sexual relatronshrps, disabrlrty, a vrsrt to Poland, writers’ workshops and poems and pints sessrons. Their tone rs whimsical, humorous and occasronally rnsightful. A few are farrly good, but none are really strong enough to merrt publishrng by the bookful.
The page layouts, by the poet herself, are the work of someone wrth a curiosity about fonts but no desrgr. sense.
Most people would agree that people should have the means to publrsh therr work lrke thrs. But rf you’re lookrng for poetry of real quality, buy something from an established publrsher and taste the drfference. (AB)
Happy Like Murderers
Gordon Burn (Faber £16.99) *****
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Soon there Will be no Brrtrsh serral krllers left for Gordon Burn to wrrte about. Going beyond the tab10rd headlrnes he analyses the sordrd lrves and brutal murders of Peter Sutcliffe, Myra Hrndley and now the Wests (Fred and Rosemary) — and has earned condemnatron and commrssrons aplenty.
Four years of metrculous research, intervrews and starrng rnto the spaces where evrl rergns has led to thrs remarkable book, followmg the paths of both victims and tormentors. Reasons as to why these horrors happened are hrnted at but thankfully fall short of srmplrstrc ratronalrsatron.
Puttrng hrmself behrnd the eyes of the ’characters’, Burn sweeps us along rn everyday colloquralrsms, the flurd rhythms concealrng the depravrty about to be unleashed upon the reader. Images and phrases are repeated. hrghlrghtrng the compulsrve and rrratronal lrves led wrthrn the many walls of 25 Cromwell Street. Whether we really need thrs book or not, the end result rs nothrng short of stunnrng. (BD)
DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY Rasa
Suran Goonatilake (£9.99 from Beyond Words Bookshop, Cockburn Street, Edinburgh) t t a:
Thrs small square-shaped book of
photographs presents a challenge to those who rely on easy adjectrves lrke
'colourful’ to descrrbe the merrts of Indian dance. Shot rn black and whrte wrth sensrtrve use of blue and sepra tones, Goonatrlake's pictures reveal a far more sOphistrcated and subtle art form than one that trades srmply on bells and brrghtly-coloured dyes. Expect no pretty portrarts erther, as Goonatrlake eschews the bigger picture, focusing rnstead on seemrngly obscure detarl such as the pure-whrte narl-trps of the dancer’s outstretched hand or eyes lowered rn serene expressron. There rs little text, but these striking rmages need lrttle explanatron. The packagrng, however, leaves something to be desired, lookrng too much lrke a fancy exhrbrtron brochure. Whilst unlikely to wrthstand repeated handling, thrs book could be become a coveted rtem at the rrght prrce. Just keep rt away from those who may be tempted to use rt as a drrnks mat. (EC)
The Magrcran's ere Brian Moore (Flamingo £6.99)
* 1k it it
Has Brian Moore wrrtten a thrrller wrth a powerful moral argument or literary fictron wrth a suspense-packed plot? However you look at rt, thrs deceptrvely srmple story of Napoleon Ill's mangran pitting skrlls agarnst a lvluslrm Holy Man to avert a 'Irhad’ envelops an intellrgent investroatron of one woman’s drsrlluSronment wrth provrncral bourgeOrs lrfe.
As rn most of Moore’s novels, the female character stands out and her awakenrng amongst a rrch Arabrc background grves the book rts power. (GD)
MUSIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY Light My Fire
Ray Manzarek (Century £16.99) it i t
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As one of the foundrng members of The Doors, Ray Manzarek rs well placed to throw an rnsrder perspectrve on one of the most loved and loathed bands (and frontmen) from rock musrc’s golden decade.
Manzarek metrculously records hrs Journey through frlm school, hrs frrst encounters wrth Jim Morrison, and the formatron and rrse of The Doors but then starts to gallop through the late 603 and early 7OS — re. the Jurcy brl " wrthout addrng much to what Doors fans already know.