l I I t
SHORT STORY COLLECTION
How It Ended (Bloomsbury £12.99) Jay Mclnerney is no longer chairman of the Bratpack board. He is also far from the party hooligan who wreaked mayhem and madness across New York, on top of two wheels or in charge of four, racing like a demon with all manner of substances speeding through his frame.
He's settled down now of course, living one half of the year in Nashville, the second in his beloved New York with a third wife and their twin sons. Yet, there are some things which are hard to change.
At the height of his powers in the 80s and early 90$, Mclnerney was an insightful chronicler of celebrity, beauty, nihilism, self-abuse, self- destruction and self-loathing. The problems of identity and the difficulties inherent in creating a workable persona were his bag. From his blistering debut Bright Lights, Big City, through to last year’s Model Behaviour, it’s been self, self, self. The low-esteemed, highly-strung, middle to upper classes got a right good kicking at the hand of Jay.
As though time has stood still, Mclnerney continues to write about these things. In his new collection of short stories, How It Ended, the
HOW IT ENDED
Could it be all over for the old Mclnerney?
' First writes
Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Matt Whyman
Who he? Matt Whyman rs an agony uncle for AOL UK, the ’Love Doctor' for Bliss magaZrne and a monthly contributor to FHA/l. He rs also part of the award-winning team responsible for TheSrte (wwwtheSrtecom), an onlrne advice and information resource for young people, recently described as 'groundbreakrng’ by none other than Tony Blair. All in all, Whyman c0uld be consrdered an authority on Internet relationships.
His debut It's called Man Or Mouse and takes its theme from a recent report which revealed that more than SIX out of ten people hooked on cybersex Ire about their genders. Whyman’s hapless hero, Ren, an underachrevrng actor and an overactive dreamer recently dumped by hrs girlfriend, rs such a dupe. Posing onlrne as a swrngrng bisexual, he meets the woman of hrs dreams only to see her hook up wrth hrs ex, Christine. Basically . . Basrcally, rt’s Cyrano De Bergerac for the cyber generatron wrth more than a dash of Some Like It Hot for good mea5ure. Whyman makes some wry and prthy observations on sexual politics and, although the read rs somewhat overlong and the outcome predrctable, thrs is an engaging and Witty look at sexual rdentrty.
First paragraph test 'I first tapped into
lie of the land remains undisturbed. In ’Third Party’, Alex is the victim of mistaken identity but still manages to get a blow job in the back seat of a drunk driver's motor; in 'Simple Gifts', Lori is in the midst of a heavy coke rush on Christmas Eve when she decides it's time to become a new woman for her old man; and in 'My Public Service', our narrator works for a senator who is one thing to his public (open, sensitive, of fresh morals) and another in private (’there was a type: slim, no ass, big tits, long blonde hair’).
Meanwhile, his race to beat Bret Easton Ellis in the ‘who can namedrop more celebs in one paragraph’ competition continues apace; among the many famous folks within How It Ended's 196 pages, Norman Mailer
makes the most prominent cameo, laughing and joking with the wannabe President Castelton.
At some point, Mclnerney decided that the fast-living had to stop before it was too late and all his characters here are giving something up; drugs, drink, cigarettes, subscriptions to GO and real breasts are all being left behind in a vain search for the true self.
Still, it may be churlish to criticise someone for striving to do what they know best. How we would wail were he to pen a proto-feminist slavery drama or a 25th century sci-fi satire. Then again, could the title be a warning of future ventures into entirely foreign territory? (Brian Donaldson)
I How It Ended is published on Mon 78 Sep.
the Joy of cybersex one month after Christine asked me to close down our relationship. Four weeks after the hottest fox I’ve ever dated frnally stopped twrtchrng in my presence and said, "I’ve not been myself for some time" ,'
Recommendations corner 'An amusmg take on the Cyrano De Bergerac menage-a-trOrs legend, rt’s paCy, racy and cyberspacy. But seriously folks, it’s also needle sharp on male rdentrty and rmpotence,’ say The Daily Mirror.
RELATIONSHIP CYBERFICTION Jeanette Winterson ThePowerBook (Jonathan Cape £18.99)
litrJ‘D 27:18 on};
Stylish and passionate but ultimately a turn-off
90 THE lIST 7—21 Sep 2000
When Jeanette Winterson burst on to the literary scene rn I985 wrth Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, she was Irke a red-headed lightning strike. Lesbran, brilliant, an outsider to literary London, she was passionately convrnced of her own abilities. The story since then has been of mixed crrtrcal reception but a loyal fanbase. Her new work ThePowerBook won't do much to change that.
It comes nattin presented to make you think of a Mac, but what has thrs little package got to do wrth the cyber- world? Well nothing really, despite chapter headings Irke ’Open Hard Drrve’. Ever noticed the way the old computer seems to work Irke magic.7 Something baSrcally old-fashioned (a Stephen King novel for instance) becomes ultra-modern, because you can find rt on the net. ThePowerBOok
shows serious signs of the delusions we all suffer when we look at Our screens,
It's essentially a tribute to the time- travel of texts Irke Vrrgrnra Woolf's Orlando and features two lovers meeting over and over rn different ages and places. So we have figures like Lancelot and Guinevere, a cool modern shag in Paris and some entertaining historical speCUlatron in 17th century Turkey.
Winterson rs, as ever, a brilliant stylist and passionate writer but dressing up her prose in the dismal drsgurse of cyberfrctron does her abrlrtres no fav0urs. For a book about love, its a damn difficult read and the cool hand of technology rs an unnecessary turn- off. (IVIOrra Jeffreyr l ThePowerBook is published on Thu 7 Sep.
To whom the book is dedicated ’For
Emma, as ever’, (Catherine Bromley) l Man Or Mouse is published by Flame on Thu 7 Sep priced f 70.