The Restraint Of Beasts Magnus Mills (Flamingo £6.99) ***
Magnus Mills made more than a name for himself last year when he went from working on the buses and straight onto the Booker shortlist with his debut novel. The Restraint Of Beasts, a slight tale of working men, their rituals and routine, became the maverick leftfield entry among the usual suspects of the Bainbridges, McEwans et al. The title, of course, is more than it appears on the surface - both the practical task at hand and the symbolic cycle of existence (largely revolving around denial and petty oppression).
Tam and Ritchie are two Scottish high-tensile agricultural fencers with long hair and short fuses who are dragged across the border for work, led by their new English gaffer doubling as our narrator. He too. is under command from higher forces, some seen, many unseen. The story is intercut with some bizarre. frequent and quickly forgotten deaths as the trio go about their largely inefficient way, leaving the reader shaking their head in baffled bemusement.
The sense of misplaced surreality is stamped too firmly on the pages and not aided by the speech patterns of the Scottish labourers — more Queen's English than Irvine Welsh. Most disappointing of all is the abruptness of the ending. just at the point when the undercurrent of menace which lifts the book in the final third is at its most threatening. (Brian Donaldson)
intensely idiomatic and lurid dialogue is
i smelling possessions, terrible memories
and fears for the future. Neither adjusts well: Matthew is excluded from his new school while Lin is almost engulfed by loneliness. And then a romance with her Jamaican neighbour begins to change everything, though not in the way you might expect.
Jill Dawson is excellent on the tragic details of life, steering her story through the many potential cliches and predictabilities, to something compelling, honest and unputdownable. Magpie is funny too, and well-observed, on single parenthood, class and what you have to do to survive those inner- city blues. (EM)
some poignant reflections of that hoary old chestnut the human condition, the plot struggles to sustain 326 pages of purple prose. The
cast into relief only by some brief poetical moments.
DeSpite their talent in the singing department, the girls are unlikely to have a musical appreciation that stretches beyond the simplest pop song. Warner has written some extremely human characters, but midway through the narrative you find yourself urging the girls to get a life. By the novel’s close, the tequila's left a distinctly bitter aftertaste. (DLP)
INNER-CITY FICTION Magpie
Jill Dawson (Sceptre £6.99) at t ‘k * One for sorrow, two for joy, so the song goes. And that's the shape of this slight, unlikely gem of a novel. Lily, a newly single parent, moves from . , _ _- claustrophobically familiar Yorkshire to a l STAR RATINGS
CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE:
Steve Cramer, Thom Dibdin, Brian Donaldson, Rodger Evans, Miles Fielder, Kirsty Knaggs, Elisabeth Mahoney, Alan Morrison, Denyse Lyon Presley
hard North London estate with her five- ***** Outstanding
Year-old son Matthew. 5633????“ After a fire at their home, all they have H; 50-50
left are two carrier bags of smoky- i * Poor
PAISLEY BOOK FESTIVAL
. . . including a Children’s Book Festival
Saturday 12 - Wednesday 23 June
The very best in Scottish writers celebrate the diversity of Scottish voice!
With Liz Lochhead, Roddy Lumsden, Candia McWilliam, Janice Galloway,
Aiay Close, Val McDermid, Gordon Burn, Beatrix Campbell . . . and many more! 963 'PAISlEY/ fm
0141 887 1010
Crime @ Borders
Join the hottest authors from the Hodder crime list: Paul Johnston, Nicholas Blincoe, Morag Joss and Frederic Lindsay who will be reading from their latest work and discussing death between the covers
Wednesday 16th June
98 BUCHANAN STREET, GLASGOW Gl 3BA 0141 222 7700
Libby Purves and Antonia Swinson
will be reading from their new novels and discussing writing as a career
Thursday 17th June
98 BUCHANAN STREET, GLASGOW G1 3BA 0141 222 7700
10—24 Jun 1999 “Elm”