new titles


Love Is A Racket

John Ridley (Bantam Press £9.99) ** if *



Best known for adapting his own debut crime novel, Stray Dogs, for Oliver Stone's U-Turn, John Ridley’s CV includes stand—up comedy and writing for television most notably Beverly Hills 90270. That considered, you’d expect Ridley's fiction to be funny and fast-paced and, while Love Is A Racket is the latter, the humour falls foul of a tough sensibility that breeds deeply pessimistic storytelling. Which is no bad thing.

The plot is nothing new a failed screenwriter attempts to extricate himself from gambling debt, alcoholism and the attentions of a loan shark and a corrupt cop. Also, the dramatic device of using social conditions ghetto life in modern L.A. in place of the traditional ’web of intrigue’ is hardly stretching the boundaries of originality.

However, it remains a great read. What more should one expect from what would have been called a ’dime store novel' 50 years ago? (MF)

MUSIC BIOGRAPHY Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley

Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown £19.99) * * * *

Elvis Presley

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The King of Oriental Cooking

Ken Ham

demonstrates how to cook





98 BUCHANAN STREET, GLASGOW G1 3BA 0141 222 7700

With the support of Thai Fountain 2 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow G3 7UL

94 TIIEUfl 4—18 Feb 1999

Veteran rock biographer Peter

? Guralnick's weighty second volume of

Elvis is an exhaustive biography far removed from the sensational exposes by former girlfriends and associates. This well-researched and detailed work charts the King’s larger than life existence from his Army days in 1958

i to his demise in 1977, and reaches the { heart of its subject, particularly Elvis’ i relationship with Colonel Tom Parker.

Presley’s music and film careers are

well charted, and there are revealing

.3 insights into his married life and health problems. Want to know his stage

, clothes for any given concert, or what ; pills he was on at the time? This is the

place to find out.

Guralnick humanises the singer and strips away the mythology that too often surrounds him in books such as Greil Marcus’ Dead Elvis. Guralnick’s Presley is vain, easily manipulated and

a world-class talent, but that's what makes him a worthy subject for this Q outstanding biography. (DL)



. Phil Strongman (Abacus £6.99) *

Phil Strongman's appalling debut novel has the most inapprOpriate name since Titanic was dubbed ’unsinkable’. Cocaine is neither addictive nor compulsive, and is highly unlikely to induce euphoria in the user. Hopefully, Strongman will continue to take after

: his nautical counterpart and have the

good grace to sink on his maiden

voyage, so Sparing innocent reviewers

the sickly prospect of embarking on

further literary excursions with this

chancer of a hack.

A jaded pop journo, Strongman has penned the tale of a jaded pop journo exposing the corrupt music biz while

: coping with girl trouble and a

burgeoning coke addiction. He has ended up with little more than the nauseating narcissism of a writer who might once have been half-decent, staring at his own sneering reflection in a powder-dusted mirror.

From the ’shocking’ title down to the last ill-chosen word, Strongman craves

' the unique high of your attention. Just

say no. (PR)


Inside - Outside Regi Claire (Scottish Cultural Press

£5.95) *ink

Inside ~

Regi Claire is not so much a teller of short stories, but a creator of moods. Hers is an empathic style which tangles the reader in a sticky web of concern for fragile characters who are dangled as tantalising bait for the emotions. The problem is that, more often than not, she leaves you there, trapped in a cocoon of denial, self-loathing or

primal fear.

At her best, as in the taut control of

a the title story or in the atmospheric

childhood nightmare, ’Getting Rid or The Gods’, Claire moves the narrative ' along with subtle hints and gentle

nudges which make you willing to

work your own way into the story.

These two highlights make you realise her full ability and wonder why, in the

other fragments of stories, she has not i picked up those delicately created

' emotions and given her characters the space to develop and breathe. (TD)


Hero Of The ; Underworld Jimmy Boyle (Serpent’s Tail £8.99)



.i 1' M My B O Y LE


Critics seem determined to stop Jimmy Boyle putting the past behind him. The man himself, however, has a sterner

resolve and, in his first novel, emerges

as a boldly imaginative writer who finds steel toe-capped humour in the lives of those discarded by society. When Hero is released from The Institution after years of mistreatment, he starts work in a slaughterhouse and then in a mortuary, noting the well- practised violence and perversions of

those around him. His is a world

reminded hourly of the promise of death, where hierarchies of power, from the workplace and up through society, are maintained by vicious acts

V born out of fear.

The grotesque charactels who

surround Hero a good-hearted

prostitute, a midget, a huge-jawed heavy would feel at home chez Fellini

I or Lynch. Boyle’s style is truly

international, full of wild, ab5urdist invention, but his underlying tale of survival and redemption has roots

much closer to home. (AM)


Selected Poems

Langston Hughes (Serpent’s Tail

H9%***** Langston Hughes has been described

as the 'Negro Poet Laureate', but he is