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; Ste hen King (Hodder $.Stmgh


He's one of . writers In the world, and every ; , ,1; book is a bestseller optioned, by

Hollywood; but now Stephen King has written his first serious novel. A”; patronising statement that may be. I

but this is how Hearts in Atlantis is being marketed. There are no supernatural elements. nor ' psychotic criminals anywhere. f. ' _. ,. instead. King takes a long. hard , . look at America over the past four decades. Actually, that‘s not a great leap for King: his stories have progressively focused less on the supernatural thrills and more on character and setting. The ghost story of his recent gag Of Bones

takes a backseat to the twin plots of a writer coming to terms withthe_ _,


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death of his wife and a child custody case. Even way back when in

Salem’s Lot. the town that the vampires over-ran was as important as, ' ' '

the undead themselves.

Opening in 1960 during Bobby Garfield's school years in Connecticut. - j - Hearts In Atlantis works its way through college years in the late 60s * 1

and the drudgery of working life in the early 80s - with the spectre of Vietnam looming ever-large - via numerous characters before finally returning to a grown-up and reflective Garfield in 1999.

Unsurprisingly. King's main preoccupations - childhood and pop culture‘

- figure powerfully in a novel more ambitious than its soc-page length suggests. Traditionally. it’s King's non-supernatural stories - Stand By Me. The Shawshank Redemption ~ that transfer best to the big screen.

. That being so, speed the plow. Hollywood. Let‘s see this one on film. '

(Miles Fielder)

with the revelations about his father. We meet the scheming tabloid journalist, dredging up Moody’s past for her expose novel, Moody’s bewildered band members, and even the undertaker who discovers Moody’s gender deception.

Despite the peculiar premise, this is a fantastic tale, beautifully and delicately expressed, never once resorting to sloppy heart-string plucking to gain a reaction. A sad, but ultimately uplifting narrative which reflects on life, death, honesty and the bonds that can build between people. (MR)


A Star Called Henry

Roddy Doyle (Jonathan Cape £16.99) *inhk‘k

A Star Cal/ed Henry should not be quite the cultural shocker to Roddy Doyle’s fans that it is being trumpeted as. He has always played around with the big issues while directing the bulk of his attention towards the reader's funnybone.

This majestic tale is the first of a trilogy, or perhaps more, which aims to capture moments of lreland's 20th century not picked up in the academic syllabus or daily dispatches. Henry is born into Dublin impoverishment at the top of the century. inevitably, life is less than sweet but made palatable

STAR RATINGS _ . - ***** Outstanding ~ Mnht . . - Recommended;E iii-3129' it ,

through crime - petty theft in the inhospitable streets leads to his graduation as one of Michael Collins’ key henchmen.

Written in unstintingly beautiful prose, Doyle’s sixth novel is as much about place as it is abdut period - the descriptions of Dublin express both love and loathing. However far this drama runs it is clear that, for both Henry and Roddy, the sky's the limit. (80)


Simone Baird, Brian Donaldson, Miles Fielder, Dawn Kofie, Hannah McGilI, Alan Morrison, Mark Robertson, Minnie Scott

A Slar

Called Henry

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\Ieei (:Iiu‘ I’mrhcr M The (iiii/ens 'I'heaire, Glasgow (ill \Veilnesih} 22 September. 6.33pm Contact: CHI 42‘) 55M

Out in paperback, £6.99 20 September

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9-23 Sep 1999 THE LIST 89