TRAVEL COOKER/ GHILLIE BASAN The Moon's Our Nearest Neighbour (Warner L799; 000

I‘ll: IIiii)/I.v


This acc0unt of a couple's move fr om Edinburgh's New Town to the Highlands fits snugly into the 'getting away from it all' genre. Professionals advrse them against it. sophisticated urban friends are uncomprehending, hardy locals are plain bemused.

Once arrived. they have a series of mishaps: the generaIOr never works. they haven't got a phone. they're snowed in for weeks on end. but the scenery is beautiful. Basan strongly evokes her craving for space. a result of growing up in Africa. She throws in mouth-watering recipes. reminding us she's a cookery writer and her husband a photographer. helpfully Citing their works.

This account rattles along nicely enough. But at times it feels like a series of anecdotes rather than an engrossing story. Apparently. Basan's mother suggested she should ‘do a Peter Mayle'. Indeed.

(Kath Murphy)


The Paperchase (Abacus $39.99) .0

Marcel Theroux's second novel is a sedate tale of a disillusioned man's journey of pretty moderate self-discovery. After the death of his estranged Uncle Patrick. journalist Damien March. frustrated by an unrewarding BBC lot) and overshadowed by a mOre prominent and

38 THE LIST 2—9 Aug 2001

(LilaflSlT‘ath brother. trazels to an obscme American island to take care of his uncle's estate and ()RJO‘,’ a ~.vell-earned break from the rat-race.

Marcel Theroux (the real-life brother of televrsion's LOUIS) paints a rather anodyne picture of limp-wristt-2d Damien, whose anecdotal musmgs grate rather quickly. One saying grace is the discovery of his uncle's Victorian pastiche writing and the exploits of Sherlock Holmes' mysterious older brother. which often provrdes a refreshingly compelling break.

Theroux often seems more interested in semi- autobiographical ramblings than weaving a good yarn.

(Olly Lassman)


Top Of The World, Ma! (Canongate €9.99) 0...

Much as we might like it to be (how often do yOu see someone piss. or eat. or really fuck in a Hollywood movie?) the human body is not a self-contained unit. Things go in. and things come out. Michael Gurnzburg. like many satirists. breaks down the human body as he deconstructs society. and Top Of The World. Ma.’ is a portrait of America's rich that brims with weeping sores. luxury foodstuffs. combusting eyeballs. intruding cocks and blood-filled syringes. Roger Lyman is an art reviewer, commrssroned to rake through Jackson Pollock's life in search of sexual improprieties. He befriends the enigmatic John Dough and loathsome entrepreneur



Little Green Man Viking {12.0" 0.00

Reminiscing is big business at the moment, with Top Tens of everything past appearing every other week, but why not one about childhood games? A possible reason is that we might start playing them again, which may not be a good thing if Little Green Man is anything

to go by.

The story revolves around Barney and the rediscovery of a piece of green material, possibly valuable, last used at the age of thirteen as the prize for any of his gang who successfully burnt down a barn or stole sweets or any other dare that their young minds cooked up. After discovering the real value (£750,000) and finding thirtysomething life a bit hard, he resurrects the game, with the last man standing getting the Little Green Man.

Starting with a few general dares, gradually the five men begin to focus, examining where people’s weak points are and exploiting them, playing each other off to try and put them out the game. Eventually their secrets spill out: who slept with whose wife, who has AIDS and the real facts about Barney’s dreary existence.

Written with the same melancholic wit and

darkness that peppers Simon Armitage’s poetry,

this is a fantastic portrait of the downward spiral of friends falling out, getting jealous and even attempting to kill each other. And all this presented on a background of Subbuteo,

'Big' Barton Snitbread. but starts to find the lonely figure of Gilbert Schwartz more fascinating than the man he is supposed to be researching. His investigations lead him into more and more fantastic and grotesque areas. and draw the reader into a totally unsubtle but thoroughly exhilarating attack on the obscene and the rich. (James Smart)

SHORT STORIES RUSSELL BANKS The Angel On The Roof (Vintage €7.99) 0....

Russell Banks' description of the short story form as a 'perfect wave' is about as apt a description as you Will get for every one in this extensive collection. His genius for taking a single arc in a character's life and Crystallising its profundity in spare. understated prose. is a precious gift.

Ranging from an Old fisherman in a trailer park winning the lottery. to a corporate employee haunted by a visronary madman, Banks' vrSion is limitless. Penetrating the minds of young. old. male and female With a tender clarity. compassron informs every clipped sentence.

TIN: Ania-l On The Root ITInr Stories ()I‘

The hidden and unconSidered strands of American life are disclosed With the economy of a poet and narrative brilliance of a stOryteller. Champion of the ordinary and ally of the bizarre. this collection is a must for all mental surfers.

(Ruth Hedgesr

FAMILY DRAMA PATRICIA GRACE Dogside Story (WOmen's Press £10.99) .0.

PatriCia Grace's latest novel presents the stony of a Maori settlement. and in particular the tale of Te Rua. a y0ung man With a secret weighing heavin on his shoulders. The narrative interweaves between past and present. always returning to Te Rua and eventually revealing his desire to reSCue his daughter Km from his uncaring aunts.

A memory box of melancholic wit

Scalextric and other 705/805 nostalgia. A brilliant debut novel, before you know it you'll be rummaging in your own memory box.

(Aly Burt)

While tourists Ell'l‘l‘Jtl for the first sunrise of the new millennium. Te Rua's confession of his secret is abused by his aunts for their upcoming custody battle.

Though his reactions seem sometimes simplistic. Te Rua is nonetheless an intriguing and likeable character. Patricia Grace's lyrically metaphorical and elegant prose affords us a fascinating insight into the importance of genealogy in the modern Maori lifestyle.

The importance of land and nature is also descriptiver highlighted and. ultimately. Dogsxde Story cements in the mind a strong impression of the interaction between the extended family of the Maori ’whanau' and the earth. through writing that is ripe With rough beauty. (Helen Waddelll

COMIC TRAVELOOUE CHA LES JENNINGS Faintheart (AbaCus 5:10.99) 0...

Not known for their ability to laugh at themselves. it is unlikely this book 'HIH be a big hit filth the Scottish. And certainly not With a Subtitle like ’An Englishman Ventures

No h Of The Border'.

lhis is a great ‘;tl.’lll‘i'. for (Lirarles .Jeniiings I‘» a ‘.'itiiolir;. hilarious and tlllltilll‘, honest trayei ‘i.‘.’l|ttr.' ‘.'.rlio £l|‘~.‘.’{l‘,f‘. lets l)|(]()tl“,. xenophobia and pure iririerliility creep into his irrithering text.

Starting Ill l tlllll)lll(ll‘. and ending in (iiasgou‘r. he uses history and lll‘,’tll as his giiiries. .‘3'iil,lftfitlll’l llllll‘,f,‘ll to kill shops. appalling food. r‘ain. ‘.'/ind. Scottish (Lillll(:(l',' and dreadful hotels. Never giiite tipping over into chur‘lisliness. he also stops to adnrire the stunning scenery, the '.'.rhisky and the language. lli'; take in clenerer and more cultiirall, arrare than his nearest counterpart 'fiill Bbyson, From the Danen Schen‘e to (l(}'/()lllt|f)ll. this is the heathen's (eurney and it is an affectingly .vrtty read, iRaiil Dalei