POSTHUMOUS ROMANCE Being Dead Jim Crace (Viking £16.99) AAA
Jim Crace's solemn prose suits bleak, grandiose themes; having tackled the life of Christ in the brilliant Quarantine, he now takes a steady, penetrating look at death.
The story is modest; an elderly couple meet their sticky end on a deserted beach, and Crace takes stock of the lives that led them there. Their courtship is revisited with tender curiosity, and the tragedy that blighted their early love is seen to have cast a shadow that darkens the life of their wild daughter Syl.
Crace is a fastidious technician whose every phrase is polished to a high gloss; such heightened language is somewhat distancing in a novel that strives for claustrophobic intimacy. Being Dead's strength is the intriguing confrontation it forces between the physical realities of the body and the idea of the soul; its weakness is the finicky, careful arrangement of words that can rob Crace’s work of spontaneity. (HM)
BEAT BIOGRAPHY Screaming With Joy: The Life Of Allen Ginsberg
Graham Caveney (Bloomsbury £20) A A A A
SCREAMING WITH JOY
lhoLHoo! AI fen Ginsberk
" 'Hold back the edges of your gowns, ladies, we are going through hell'. So wrote William Carlos Williams in his introduction to ’Howl', Allen Ginsberg's best known poem. It remains a classic text of post-war American writing, up there with On The Road and Naked Lunch.
But where Kerouac was the cosmic hitchhiker and Burroughs the man they called Priest, it was their somewhat less self-destructive friend and supporter who made it all possible. For Ginsberg was a consummate networker and champion of the underground, ’a human telegraph’ in Graham Caveney’s words.
Writing, gigging and hustling for half a century, he travelled from the beat and beaten voice of 'Howl’ to become an icon of the counter-culture, beatific in his Buddhist robes and old testament beard. A mystic poet who saw himself in the tradition of Blake and Whitman, Ginsberg is certainly deserving of a book of such insight and intelligence. (RE)
HERITAGE SATIRE England, England
Julian Barnes (Picador £6.99) A A A A
Written in four parts, Julian Barnes’ Booker-nominated England, England sketches its way around the life of Martha Cochrane. As a young girl, she grows up in a cosy England of jigsaws and village flower shows before her story jumps from the childhood of a girl abandoned by her father to a time when she is 40.
Originally merely a tool to expound Barnes' apparent disgust for corporate greed, Martha proves herself feisty and intelligent. But she fails in love and her reasons for feeling empty are clearly spelled out. So much so that it felt as if some personal agenda was being directed towards the book's dedicatee.
Despite being bogged down with essay-like theories on the workings of avaricious slimeballs, England, England is an astounding and provocative read. In the end England becomes Anglia and happily returns to the simplicity that is true to the force of life. (AH)
FAMILY SAGA The Blackwater Lightship
Colm Toibin (Picador £15) AAAA
Estranged is a word usually reserved for describing a partner ejected from the warm bosom of their marriage. But it’s the only term that adequately characterises Helen’s relationship with her mother, Lily. Such is the ill-feeling between the two that Lily is denied an invitation to her daughter's wedding and prevented from seeing her grandchildren.
Then it’s revealed that Declan, Helen's brother, is dying of AIDS. His illness and their return to their grandmother’s house, where they spent much of their childhood, force Helen to dissect and reassess the incidents which fostered the bitter resentment of her mother.
Emotive without being schmaltzy, Colm TOibi’n's gently paced tale of fractured relationships doesn’t see the family metamorphose from the Simpsons into the Waltons; neither does it shy away from dealing with the everyday indignities caused by a ravaged immune system. This, coupled with occasional dashes of black humour, makes this downbeat novel a satisfying read. (DK)
MORAL ADVENTURE The German Numbers
Alan Sillitoe (Flamingo £16.99) AA A A
Prolific British novelist and poet Alan Sillitoe — perhaps best known for early classics such as Saturday Night And Sunday Morning - has, at the age of 71, written a rollercoaster ride of an adventure story.
Divided into three sections, the novel
Continued over page
STAR RATINGS AAAAA Outstanding AA A 1% Recommended AAA Worth a try AA 50-50 A Poor
WAT E R S'I‘ON E's
Sauehiehall Street in September and October
SAT FACE PAINTING with 2 5 METAMORFACES SEP Bring in the children for more crazy, m wonderful faces SUN SUNDAY SESSION w1th COSTA-COFFEE SEP Listen to our resident ﬂute trio m DOLCE ARGENTO TUE SAUCHIEHALL STREET READING GROUP Tonight the group will discuss i STEPHEN KING’S novel 7'30 PM THE SHINING THU JIM GRACE 3 0 “Being Dead” Booker prize shortlisted author of ____SEP QUARANTINE 7'00 PM reads from his new novel. THU TEACHERS 8c 3 O LIBRARIANS PERSONAL 7%M SHOPPING EVENING o We invite all teachers 8: librarians. On presentation of a school ID badge or union card you will recieve 10% discount on personal purchases — conditions apply. Call 0141 353 1920 for more information TUE STEVE JONES “Almost Like A Whale” Professor of genetics at University College _OC_T London, discusses the follow up to 7-00 PM LANGUAGE OF GENES and IN THE BLOOD. WED WILLIAM GIBSON “All Tomorrow’s Parties” His ﬁrst novel for three years completes a % stunning trilogy about the post Net world.
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23 Sap-7 Oct 1999 THE U3T101