FICTION/«L BIOGRAPHY ANDREW MOTION Wainewright The Poisoner (Faber £7.99)

{ ..._, a]. The Poet Laureate and feted literary biographer takes time off from eiilogising the Royals to chronicle the life of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. An artist. poet. writer and dandy. he was the darling of the Romantic world; until he started bumping off relatives to secure his inheritance. Rich material for any biographer. but Andrew Motion eschews the conventional approach. opting instead for a swashbuckling semi- fictionalised one. Shame he can't quite bring himself to let go of the factual reins. Masses of pedantic footnotes rather spoil the narrative party. leaVing this absorbing work frustratingly stranded between one genre and the other. (Hannah MCGill)


Cannibals (Jonathan Cape E10) .00

Canniba/s is not a novel in the conventional sense. In fact, it's not even a story. What it's comprised of is glim- pses of life. vignettes of ultra-modern existence. seemingly unconnected from each other and apparently with very little to say.

To begin with. Dan Collins' book seems like a pointless exercise in postmodern writing. and the style and structure of Cannibals irritates the hell out of you. But then threads start appearing. themes which tie these initially disparate chunks of life together.

For a start. there's a great deal of dissatis- faction and

unhappiness on show: a sense of the sheer futility and SuperfiCIality of today's eXIstence and relationships oozes from every line. ‘Modern life is rubbish'. Collins appears to be telling us. and it's not about to get any better. so Just get on with it. Cannibals is a strange book, Sure. but worthy of investigation.

(Doug Johnstone)

POETIC TRIBUTE HANA ALI More Than A Hero (Coronet £36.99) .0

’, .IIii/tiiiiiiiiaif :li'i .

If‘SSi‘HS f“


fl\\\ \ll

An odd one this. the daughter of one of the world's most famous men (for it is him, Cassius Clay) has written a tribute (despite him not being dead yet) celebrating his life's achievements. Perhaps the fact that ill-health has ravaged. one of our greatest sportsmen of his mob— ility and independence motivated this nostalgia trip. And Hana Ali bookends some of her father's most celebrated raps with her own hamfisted platitudes and tales. He was a great dad. nice to the poor; Christ. he could well have been a saint according to Hana's own sixth form insights. But they fail to shed any new light on the great man and ultimately this seems a bit of a pointless venture. (Mark Robertson)

SHORT STORIES JOHN UPDIKE Licks Of Love (Hamish Hamilton £16.99) 0...

As in the moist flicker of a teasing tongue. or as the smarting lash of a leather thong? How do Our bodies remember the licks of another's long- vanished love? Incisive and self- assured. nimble and irreverent. John

100 THE LIST 15—29 Mar 2001



The Last Time They Met Little.



Having previously been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and a member of the exclusive Oprah’s Book Club to boot, Anita Shreve hardly needs help from humble reviewers to boost sales. She should, however, count herself fortunate to have the mighty Winfrey onside as her latest novel largely fails to live up to her


The Last Time We Met deals with the 35-year relationship between star-crossed lovers Linda and Thomas, opening with a chance encounter in 2000 at a writers convention in Canada. Shreve hints at tragic past events, then transports us back in time, first to Kenya 26 years earlier and a clandestine affair, thence to the mid-60$ where family politics, incestuous rape and a particularly nasty car crash conspired to split the couple for the first time.

Despite its intriguing reverse structure, any sense of suspense or urgency is inhibited by the book’s ponderous tone, plodding pace and stilted dialogue. This is a pity, as the final third of the book is the most absorbing. Throughout, Shreve writes without a trace of humour, creating a pair of writers who waste their lives endlessly worrying about how to adequately express their

love for each other.

‘We take life too seriously, you and I’, says Thomas in a brief moment of self-awareness amongst all the angst and soul-searching. Clearly, he’s not been reading up on his Ronan Keating or he’d realise you say it best when you say nothing at all. (Allan Radcliffe)

Updike's latest collection of stories is no less than a guerrilla army of words. launching swift. camouflaged raids upon the past.

searching for its bittersweet legacy. From banjo-picker in Moscow to metal

salesman in New York.

his narrator may wear many guises but his guest for memory is ever the same. Proceed carefully:

0.... Excellent OOOO Good 0.0

Updike initially deploys

some dense imagery. building a bitterly- stacked pyre to “The

Women Who Got Away‘. Persist doggedly, however: his

language soon slackens and what appears to be maso- chistic frenzy is revealed as fond embrace.

(Heather Walmsley)


The Killing Kind

(Hodder & Stoughton £12.99) 0...

A determined detective

must track down a sub-human psycho killer who self- indulgently commits c0untless acts of violence. In light of the works by Thomas Harris. this plot-line is in no way unfamiliar. Formulaic it may be.

but thanks to Our continued fascination with serial killers. we really can't get enough. And John Connolly is

rapidly establishing himself as Ireland's answer to Harris thanks to the success of his best—selling novels Dark Ho/low and Every Dead Th/ng.

The novel opens with speCUlation on the horrors that men are prone to commit. followed swiftly by an

Average 0.

Flawed O


Shreve writes with little humour, suspense or urgency

all-too VIVId example. Once again. Connolly's rather unfortunate private-eye protagonist Charlie ‘Bird' Parker turns up in the wrong place at very much the wrong time.

All manner of grisly gOings-on ensue. Wllil Connolly's painstaking research. wise-ass hum0ur and consum- mate gift for crafting truly terrifying characters combining to shape a novel that's a genuine thrill. (Catherine Bromley)


Trigger Happy (4th Estate £7.99) 0.00

A book about the history of “lldeO games which is accessible even for those with only a passmg interest in the electronic blighters shouldn't really work. In truth. this is far more