Beryl Cook Cruising (Victor Gollancz £14.99)

‘I don't know how my pictures happen, they just do. They exist, but for the life of me I can't explain them.’ Though clearly a graduate of the Andy Warhol school of artistic reticence, Britain's best- loved painter is having another spirited bash at illuminating her work in Cruising, her first published collection since the multiple unit-shifting Happy Days. Widely regarded as perhaps the kindest folk artist ever to lift a brush, it's virtually impossible to dislike Beryl Cook's work. High- profile champions include Dawn French and Victoria Wood, who has described her as ’Reubens with

jokes'. There exists, of course, the


inevitable minority of high-brow art critics who have dismissed Cook for no more apparent reason than her joie de vivre, tireless output and enormous popularity.

While the artist has admittedly settled into her distinctively bold, solid painting style and instantly recognisable chunky figures, Cook's everyday picture postcard scenes are variously coarse, immodest, bright and brassy with anything and everything potential fodder for her prolific canvas. And yes, there's little in the way of darkness to Cook’s vision. Her world is

amusing, enormous fun and more than a wee bit sentimental, but she's also acutely observant, extending unapologetic warmth and generosity of

spirit to all her subjects.

Cruising assembles the highlights of Cook's most recent compositions with brief commentary supplied


Douglas Rushkoff (Little, Brown £9.99)

Not a man to be seen in Benetton threads

Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they’re not out to get you. Or, as Douglas Rushkoff would have it, just because they are telling you how things are, it doesn’t mean you have to believe them. In Coercion, Generation X guru and author of Media Virus and The Ecstasy Club pinpoints the ’theys’ who are dictating to us and, somewhat distressingly,

The coarse, bright and brassy vision of Beryl Cook

by the artist. Her remarks are wittily entertaining without distracting from the pictures and, wisely, she allows her assorted voluptuous drinkers, workers,

shoppers, joggers and holidaymakers to speak for

there are loads of them. Employers, advertisers, government officials, PR executives; all of them so-called experts who want to suck you so far into their world that you will need to buy (sometimes literally) into their message totally as the cyber-capitalist state tightens its stranglehold.

By now, you may have Rushkoff down as a whinging leftie who can't appreciate a finely—crafted bit of advertising and wants nothing more than a return to the good old days of Stalinist state control. Actually, you'd be wrong. ’I believe that the free market is a great way to build an economy,’ he c0unters. ’In a place like South Africa it's a great prescription for growth but what do you do with an economy like America’s which is overgrown? I work more than I can already, I buy and sell as much as I can buy and sell in a day, already. For years, I have been argurng that people in America should take one day off a week; a kind of new sabbath.’

Seeing the western world have a collective sickie once a week is about as likely as the USA electing a female

themselves. (Allan Radcliffe) I Cruising is published on Fri 74 Apr.

black president. Or seeing Douglas Rushkoff in a Benetton jumper. ’There are some fine. 30-second pieces of entertainment created by advertising agencies,’ he admits. 'I guess it’s both stupid and cool to have death row inmates interviewed in a piece of marketing. That’s why it’s so compelling.’

The analysis of how we are being subtly compelled to do or buy is where Rushkoff is at for now. He will soon be back with his fictional head in gear for Bull, a look at the state of machismo for the next millennium. ’The way men proved that they were men in the old days was by going to war in one way or another,’ he notes. ’In the 20th century, the sign of machismo was to become a big industrial baron or do a big corporate takeover. So, what I have is a bunch of guys who are the last gasp of the old boys network, biting its way through the very virtual economy of cyberspace.’ A rare case of Douglas Rushkoff talking Bull.

(Brian Donaldson) I Coercion is published on Thu 73 Apr. Bull will be published in 2001.


First writes

2 Putting debut novelists under the

microscope. This issue: Kate Le Vann

Who she? Now aged 27, Kate Le Vann

was born in Doncaster and educated at Manchester University. She has worked as a freelance journalist having written for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and Big Issue.

Her debut It’s called Trailers and tells the tale of a group of university students sharing a house in Manchester. Grace the narrator -- suffers from a degenerative disease and is reflecting upon her more mobile but not necessarily carefree days as a student when the merest trifle was the

biggest drama and she and her housemates were caught up in the whirl of drugs, alcohol, parties, relationships, bUl'gltil’lt'Stllétll)tr1l‘.(}

really mature.

Basically . . . BaSIc'ally, its a lritlt~:s‘.'.et3t look at student life, written :n a very direct and unassuming style ‘.'.’i.tl Le Vann making some scatlniviiy ,1 observations of that !lf(‘.">l‘,ft

First line test ’l'in more atian or t‘lt'll‘:i', old than most people 1 km... 3.1...1‘. l just think about it more list no at 2C,

l’ve already done so llllg’f'll or

Recommendations corner f

a great new talent, 72t'i' li'i

addictive, and full of lvml. .-

OXl)t?( ti'ti; .2 ill m; *x

at university life (l't’ 's1i'.

surprised, l)'.l'. '

observe» The ill’ir. n ii.

calls it 'a modern Bit ,il' ;'

saved iron. 1' t~

arguments, ainoiiis .a' ’l :. i: . l:-

Vann’s C(lLlStK ()l)%(‘l..:§ an.) 1“.

vulnerability that shun \, ’..'. w .'j’- : ti

"get a grip" attitude ' Ami. r-. in... .2

literary organ, Heat lz-v. 1-: a

sharp satire on Ulll‘Jt‘l‘ :1‘,’ luv, 1

reminding every ex-stmir-an i-ozz

quickly the idealistir slat :r ~.-.t .23» a": ' (Catherine Broinley) I Trailers is pub/lS/ltxtl ll) on). "hi. it by

Penguin on Thu 30 Mar {NIL ctr 1.0199.



30 Mar-13 Apr [ll-()0 THELIST101