POP BIOGRAPHY This Is Pop: The Life And Times Of A Failed
Rock Star Ed Jones (Canongate £9.99) *‘kﬁ'
This could be subtitled 'How to almost become an indie rock star', as it traces Ed Jones’s band The Tansads, from their tentative steps as fledgling indie- folk strummers through to shows at Glastonbury.
The premise is a curious one: a biography of a band who never made it who were, however, supported by several people who went onto bigger (Cast, Kula Shaker, Dodgy) and even better (The Verve) things.
It reveals the inner machinations of the music industry, with occasional sparks of wit, but Jones's turn of phrase is clumsy at times and comes over like an over-enthusiastic fanzine scribe. lt stumbles along pleasantly enough, but sinks towards the end when the inter-band bitching brings it all tumbling to a sad conclusion.
One saving grace is that it seems a
fairly blunt and honest account of the music business in comparison to the rose-tinted tosh churned out on the likes of the Gallagher brothers. (MR)
LEGAL THRILLER Personal Injuries
Scott Turow (Michael Joseph £16.99)
kink 1k US lawyer Robbie Feaver is slick,
successful and corrupt as they come. For years he’s been bribing judges to 'fix’ decisions on his cases, but now his scheme has been uncovered and he’s forced to make payment of a different kind: to the FBI.
In exchange for leniency, he agrees to go undercover to assist them in their operation to take down the bent benchmen. The events which follow make tense, thrilling reading, keeping you guessing right up to the end. Scott Turow’s own experience as a US attorney brings verisimilitude to the legal backdrop of the novel (he previously penned the bestselling Presumed Innocent), while his skill as a writer is evident in the carefully crafted plot and powerful characterisation.
This is much more than your average Iegal-thriller-by-numbers — in Personal
Injuries, Turow has created a tragic, compelling and eminently believable narrative, which covers most points on the 'How To Write The Perfect Novel' checklist. (KK)
POETRY VERSIONS The Eyes
Don Paterson (Faber £7.99) M.» >6: wk
Don Paterson’s poetry - musical, direct, boisterous yet lean and fine — has, in two slim volumes, won him many of the major awards including the Forward Prize for Poetry. The final poem in the Dundonian's last collection, God’s Gift To Women, was a verse based on the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. In retrospect this was a signpost towards The Eyes, an excellent collection dedicated to interpretations of Machado’s work.
For Machado, the path was the abiding metaphor of his life - an image with tragic resonance, since he was forced to flee on foot from Franco and died in 1939 after the long walk into exile. This is not so much a translation of Machado as the ’version' of a scholar and fellow traveller.
Paterson's tremendous skill is to
And Warhol: The Factory Years 1964-1967
Nat Fin elstein (Canongate £25) minim .
With the fabled Manhattan Factory acting as his den. Andy Warhol was a modern age hunterogatherer. Here. Warhol toyed with his new finds: brightoeyed youths. dizzy eccentrics and a wash-up of New York social ﬂotsam. Denied by his cool gaze, they nightly performed around the
campﬁre of Warhol's presence.
Nat Finkelstein was there. A young photographer. he shot both Andy and his followers. In shadowy half-light. Warhol Is seen on the phone. at work. at play while others lounge, talk and dance: an assortment of odds and
sods. they formed the Warhol pack.
While the photographs are interesting. it is Finkelstein's text that does the
illuminating: 'Andy was like a Greek god; a Titan. He ate his children. He got
the kids into his claws by having other people around thinking they were celebrities! Finkelstein not only has an eye for a photo but clearly ducked
, those claws. (Susanna Beaumont)
Clash of the Titans: Andy, Elvis and Bob
108 THE U81 4-18 Nov 1999
provide the English-speaking world with direct access to the world of the Spaniard, without sacrificing depth. It is, in the words of one Machado proverb, ’a detour on the shortcut’. (Ml)
JAZZ HISTORY Giant Steps: The Story Of Bebop
Kenny Mathieson (Payback Press £9.99) at eve-e
Named after the ground-breaking John Coltrane album, Giant Steps details, arguably, one of the most significant developments in jazz music over the years. A development which laid the foundations for much of today’s contemporary music.
It dedicates a chapter to each of the notable players of the bebop era including Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as lesser known, but still significant, players like Bud Powell and Fats Navarro. The story stretches further than this roll- call may suggest, delving into jazz’s past, tracing the roots of bebop and continuing through to show its influence on the music as a whole and its subsequent diffusion into other jazz styles.
The writing style is such that it doesn't alienate novice readers with jargon or bore experts with potted histories and so warrants the attentions of everyone from the avid jazzophile as much as the tentative beginner. (MR)
Born Free Laura Hird (Rebel Inc £9.99) e-e- e e
The sexuality of children — denied by many, exploited by some - remains a mystery that disturbs and confounds us. As a society we persist in a spurious Victorian notion of childhood innocence, conveniently forgetting that our own younger years were probably more South Park than Mansfield Park.
Laura Hird’s debut approaches adolescence with shocking frankness; yet from its unabashed honesty and sympathy for its vigorously dysfunctional central family, it gathers a positive energy that leaves the hollow shock tactics of many of Hird‘s contemporaries standing.
As our narrators - teenagers Jake and Joni and their parents Angie and Vic -— reel from one outrage to the next, Born Free finds a residue of sweetness at the bottom of the barrel. An energetic, funny, poignant and uncompromising debut, it also offers, in the character of Joni, a foul- mouthed foil for every soft-focus, airbrushed teenage girl ever committed to fiction. (HM)
MEDICAL THRILLER Stronger Than Death
Manda Scott (Headline £9.99) smile
Manda Scott is something of a rarity in modern fiction. Her own preoccupations about death and the injustices of Britain’s medical system have led her to write a crime novel intrinsically tied to our own fears of