Man And Boy Tony Parsons (HarperCollins £12.99)

No matter how many variations you i come up with when describing Tony Parsons' new novel Man And Boy, comparisons with his friend, neighbour and fellow Arsenal supporter Nick Hornby are all too inevitable - ’he often comes round

for a cup of sugar and to borrow my rattle for Highbury.’ It's a story of an almost thirtysomething coping with the raw essentials of metropolitan , life, his relationships with his wife, parents, son and work colleagues, trying all the while to work out what is it that makes men and women so incompatible. Mr Parsons: what do you have to say in your defence?

'What's different for me is that the people in Nick’s books are often waiting for their lives to take shape,’ begins Parsons. 'They tend to be unmarried, childless men in their 305 who are waiting for Cinderella to show up but it’s different for Harry in Man And Boy. He's not like that and I wasn't like that because I got married, became a father and divorced all when l was young. The circles I live in now in London, people wait 'til the evening of their 40th birthday before they start to give birth, trying to fit that into their lunch hour at Groucho’s and that's not my reality.’


Reconstructing Harry: Tony Parsons

The reality of Man And Boy’s narrator Harry Silver is of slow slippage into non-descript middle-age: his job as a TV producer is going nowhere and his marriage is running on the spot. Only his son's future seems to give Harry any cause for optimism. Unfortunately, he puts all that at risk with a one night stand. And all because he is an incurable romantic. 'It's about a man who can't tell * the difference between romance and love; he wants the honeymoon to go on forever,’ notes Parsons. ‘Women are much more practical and pragmatic in life - a honeymoon, by its own definition has to end but we men think that romance is a good thing and that can ultimately be really destructive. I've seen that in my

own life, I’ve caused a lot of misery and hurt by wanting the candlelights and roses and the Ferrero Rocher.’

For a man who has spent three decades writing and discussing other people's creative output through organs such as the NME, Arena and The Late Review, he is looking forward to being on the other side of the fence. ‘It’s probably good for me to be slapped round by the critics,’ he insists with relish. ‘I'd love to get a right kicking on The Late Review, but it's hard to be too vicious about someone you have to meet over the vol au vents in the green room.’ (Brian Donaldson)

I Man And Boy is published on Mon 5 Jul.

preview BOOKS

First writes

Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Galaxy

. Craze.

Who she? Galaxy Craze was born in London 28 years ago to Teddy Craze, the man who launched the famous King’s Road hairdressers vaeeney Todds but moved with her mother to

the USA when she was ten. While on a

creative writing programme, she appeared in Woody Allen’s Husbands And Wives in a bit role but got her teeth into her next movie, the vampiric flop Nadia. Around this time she was photographed by Bruce Weber for

Interview magazine, subsequently

performing in a string of independent films, including playing a recovering anorexrc opposite Rosanna Arquette in Pigeon Ho/ed.

Her debut It's called By The Shore and

f captures childhood in all its forms the embarrassment, the terror, the

The Pest Maiden's tale: Dilys Rose

SOCIAL TH RILLER Pest Maiden Dilys Rose (Review £9.99)

’Microbes are fast-moving,’ says Dilys Rose. ’They mutate and adapt very quickly to new environments.’ The same could be said for the author herself; after three critically acclaimed short story collections and two of poetry, she has now made her first foray into full-length fiction with Pest Maiden.

’It takes a different kind of energy,’ she explains of the transition between the formats. 'A novel takes a marathon runner’s strength rather than a sprinter’s.’ Now, after four years, the race is finally over, and the result is a precise, subtle and polished work of fiction.

The story focuses on Russell Fairley, a man whose life drifts into a space

somewhere between reality and fiction after he is dumped by his girlfriend and develops an unnamed virus. Death, pestilence and mystery, personified by the medieval Pest Maiden, dog his every move as he struggles to recover his mental and physical health.

Set in Edinburgh, the novel paints the city in a less than flattering light, seen as it is through the eyes of the depressed and diseased Fairley. It too, is portrayed as being riddled with disease, with age-old viruses lurking beneath its striking skyline. 'I think the fact that there is all this stuff just underneath the surface should be remembered,’ Rose emphasises. 'I mean, apparently Bruntsfield Links used to be a plague pit, and now there’s all these people playing pitch and putt on top of it.’ (Kirsty Knaggs) I Pest Maiden is published on Tue 6 Jul.

loneliness and the hopes.

Basically Basically, it’s the tale of twelve-year-old May who lives in a big house by the sea with her mum Lucy and her younger brother Eden. Lucy has turned it into a guest house and in the weeks before Christmas, May’s dad turns up to threaten their cosy lifestyle. First line test ’It can be dangerous to live by the shore. In the winter, after a storm, things wash up on it: rusty pieces of sharp metal, glass, jellyfish. You must be careful where you tread.’ To whom the book is credited ’For my grandmother Polly Smith, my mother Sophy Craze and in loving memOry of my grandmother Hannah Craze.’

High praise, indeed Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes insists that it is a ’bittersweet coming of age story that will linger long after you have turned the last page,’ while Fay Weldon plumps for ’completely delightful’. (Brian Donaldson)

I By The Shore is published by Jonathan Cape on Thu 8 Jul priced £70.


the shore


24 Jun—8 Jul 1999 THE "81' 105