BOOKS REVIEW continued

WELSH GOTHIC Niall Griffiths

Sheepshagger (Jonathan Cape £10) tttt

lf Niall Griffiths' debut novel Grits a diseased dialect and phonetically perfect tale of desperate dole-ites liVing in their hinter years was one of the literary highlights of 2000 for you, then this remarkable follow-up is more than welcome.

Ianto is the local savage srmpleton in a depressed Welsh backwater town. Revrled by even his old friends, he goes wandering, burning the hills he grew

up in, yearning for some sort of identity.

As a pantherstic vengeance overtakes him, myth-making and local gOSSIp

c0nspire to destroy him

Griffiths has the all-too rare abiirty to take your breath away with his poetic prose and unyielding desire to bend tne very foundations of the English language. However, he is mostly a ‘.'ery gothrc writer; this book echoes everyone from Poe to Cave and while it retains its predecessor's somewhat flabby structure, Sheepshagger is still a pitch black feast well worth tucking into. (Paul Dale)


Edward Marriott Wild Shore (Picador £6.99) * 1r 1r

The shark is many things, but it is rarely less than fascmating, whether lauded by broadsheet scientists or painted with the broad strokes of a pantomime vrllain in another breathless, lurid shockumentary.

Edward Marriott's interest lies wrth the Bull Shark, a vrcrous predator known to attack man, and the only large shark able to inhabit both fresh and salt water. Hi510urney encompasses Nicaragua's Atlantic coast and travels upriver to Lake Nicaragua and Granada’s stinking shanties. Over- frshrng and pollution have reduced shark numbers, but the power it exerts has scarcely diminished. The beast that tore pirates and World War II seaman apart is revered as a god by the vrllagers of the San Juan river and admired as a commodity by the opportunists that fill Marriott’s intensely readable memoir.

Wild Shore is a book that informs and engages, wrth a tasty mix of engaging anecdotes, cultural history and



menacieg is" T" s s Bryson wth bails flames Smarti


The Blood Of Strangers (4th Estate £10) * 1k i *

Frank Huyler hails from Albugueroue, Nev. Mexico, a city you'd probably pass tnrOugn on yOur way to anywhere else, desoite its rumoured association wrth hot dogs and jumping frogs By night a poet and fledgling author, Huyler's short story coiiectior‘. draws 0n the experrences of hrs day-300 as an emergency phySrCian

As might be expected of a medical practitioner, Huyler’s observations are cool and detached Without being dispassionate, each ca5ualty, from child to bank robber is open to Our Sympathy. The book grrps from its fast-paced opener, ’The Unknown Assailant’ and Huyler's prose is lean and drrect, the author skilfully varyrng the pace and mood to Suit each of hrs 28 tales.

While the squeamrsh may be less than enamoured, Huyler's deceptively economical language is used to powerful effect, you can almost hear the blood drying around hrs patrents' wounds. Don't give up the day rob, Frank, if only to produce more work as strong as this debut. (Allan Radcliffe)

ANGSTY CHRONICLE Paul Golding The Abomination (Picador £6.99)


The eXile is a compelling frgure in fiction,

one \\ hose exclusiori fOregrounds both the internal struggles and deep flaws of the society that threw them out

Paul Golding's narratOr is Santrago Moore Zamora, an intelligent, self- absorbed child it hose mixed parentage makes him a Stranger in both his native Spain and in England, where he attends boarding school To compound this isolation, his homosexuality makes him despised by his distant parents and small- minded classmates, despite their disgust, his peers have no compunction in cadging the odd handiob

The tale of his Journey to adulthood is not a happy one, punctuated by manipulative affairs and ending in a LOndon limbo of botched One-night stands and misanthropy By turns achineg bleak, numbineg sordid and hazily beautiful, The Abomination is a Surprismgly readable book, but unravelling the complex, dense emotions that lie wrthrn its narrative IS an altogether more troubling task (James Smart)


The Fundamentals Of Play (Viking £9.99) at i.

New York, New York, the City that never sleeps, filled wrth high life and lowlifes, it's always been a popular fictional setting But for this book’s grOup of twentysomethrng over-prrvrleged preppres, NYC is rendered as dull and hollow as their emotional capacrty.

Yet, Caitlin Macy’s grey debut holds some promise. Her portrait of the old money brigade holidaying in the

JANUARY cns run £9.99


98 THE “ST 18 Jan—i Feb 2001