BOOK REVIEWS continued


Richard Beard The Cartoonist (Bloomsbury £9.99)

Daniel wants to be a cartoonist but is obsessing about his militant c0usin instead. In Paris‘ Yurayama theme park, superVisor Frank Babbitt is working out what to do with Michael, a new ambitious employee who Will do anything to be the park's mascot Cocky Chicken.

Unfortunately, Michael has a squmt, a false arm and a false leg, contravening the park's almost Aryan character poliCies. These two groups of losers are destined for a corporate high noon.

There are certain bOOkS one comes

across that are more clever than quality: Martin Amis’ Time's Arrow

or anything by Clive Barker Spring to

mind. Richard Beard falls headfirst into this category. His lukewarm satire on consumer globalisation lacks the passion of John Sayles or the blanched ambigUity of Waugh (circa Scoop).

Beard should, however, be applauded for so thoroughly biting the Disney hand; at his best he is very vicious. QUite possibly one to watch. (Paul Dale)



Very good

Worth a shot

Below average You’ve been warned

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RAP POETRY Lemn Sissay

Rebel Without Applause (Payback Press £7.99) ~.l i.



lifi'fltlfli' flFPlMiSE

“Sissay «rites 01love h m. politics and compelling; and "athcr unusual honesty

.t r013,” man-and of :i 'rnli

At the centre of this re-released 1992 collection IS a tribute poem to Gil Scott-Heron. This seems appropriate, for Lemn Sissay's work plays pocket- battleship to Scott-Heron’s dreadnought power.

More directly and less playfully concerned With issues of black consoousness, Sissay is critical of

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106 THE “ST 22 Jun—6 Jul 2000

much in black sooety. ’Professional Black' amplifies his anger toward the apparently socially-concerned, image-consCious black liberal community leader, as does ’Uncle Tom And The 1990s’.

As one might expect from rap poetry, there’s plenty of clever and, at times, bleakly comical wordplay involved, With the Withering attack on officialdom that is ’The Customs Men’, a particular highpomt. For all that, Sissay’s poetry never quite catches the emotional pitch of Scott- Heron's and occasionally, as With the prose poem ‘Can You Locate The Planet Ethnic?', there’s a tendency to cliche. Still, this is a worthwhile book of verse, With the odd moment of real inSight. (Steve Cramer)


From The Life And Other Stories (Polygon £8.99) a l. :l {1

There is a clarity about Sian Preece’s writing, a sense of reality that cons you into thinking that this is not collected fiction, but tales from her life. if they are made-up musmgs, then these thoughts are coloured With the rampant imaginings of a little girl and displayed like Jewelled butterflies on the page.

It starts With the glitter of childhood in Wales, where stomach-churning angst and scalpel-sharp insight are both facets of the adolescent mind. It then goes into a dull line of eXile in bilingual Canada and finishes With the sheen of Journeys abroad and into the past. But for every trip into

the pOignant areas of childhood, Preece prOVides another into its darker side.

Sometimes the pins are too sharp and a final sentence turns the beauty of what has gone before to dust, but there is no denying the sparse perceptiveness of a talented author. (Thom Dibdin)


Richard Holloway Godless Morality (Canongate £6.99) ’k at 1: .4,—

Hallelujah for Holloway and his practical, God-free guide to ethics. That he is himself a man of the cloth Bishop of Edinburgh to be preCise makes this small but substantial volume all the more profound.

He should be commended for acknowledging what has been ObVIOUS for decades; the average person is more likely to turn to the problem pages for advrce about moral issues than the Bible. Divme command theory, which states that things are wrong or right because God says so, no longer has a place in our society. Therefore, a different approach is needed in order for us to successfully negotiate the moral mazes of today.

Among the issues he discusses are euthanaSia, drugs, sexuality, cloning, and abortion; controverSial topics all, but he presents the arguments in a clear, objective manner, offering a sensible and straightforward perspective on subjects which so often get blown out of proportion. (Kirsty Knaggs)

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