CONTEMPORARY POETRY KEITH MORTON
Prosodeas (Linear 8 Publishing 336) 00
One of the most interesting things about poetry is its sparseness. the fact that it forces you to read between the lines. and to explore rather than simply consume the words on the page. Edinburgh poet and novelist Keith Morton's new collection Of verse feels a little transparent. and too long-winded. when judged by this criteria.
His language is fresh and effective. and his attacks on our spiritually impoverished existence are nicely contemporary, touching on asylum seekers and EuroDisney. and rhyming ‘luck' with ‘fcuk'. But while we learn that football hooligans are bad and that modernising influences are not always good ones. Modon is unwilling or unable to go far beneath the surface of these issues.
And like a stand-up comic who is unsure of whether his gags are funny or not, he often stops and repeats. lessening the impact of his portraits and diatribes. (James Smart)
COMIC TRAVELOGUE LAWRENCE DONEGAN California Dreaming (Viking £10.99) 000
Remember the Bluebells? They had a bass player who didn't last long but loved his brief tour of America so much that he decided to wave goodbye to the fair shores of Scotland and pursue the American dream. And where better to follow that dream than on the run- down. beat-up baking hot piece Of tarmac that is the Orchard second- hand car lot in San Jose, California.
Lawrence Donegan‘s sarcasm and dour Scottish outlook creates much of the book’s humour, and as the
worst salesman on the
tot he clearly has a lot to learn. This could almost be a novel rather than
; biography; the
stereotypes who populate his life and the ruthless world of car sales would be a casting director's dream. The pictures he paints are vivid though his tendency to ramble should have been reined in. But as an entertaining look at the world of an adrift former (almost) pop star, it‘ll keep you turning the pages. (Louisa Pearson)
CONTEMPORARY SCI-Fl RACHEL ARMSTRONG
The Gray’s Anatomy (Serpent's Tail 5210) “O
The Gray 's Anatomy
takes you to Rune 66 I where the Chronicler has
gone missing leaving only his diaries filled with his thoughts and findings. Through these
notes we soon discover
what has happened to him and why life on Rune 66 has changed for the worst in recent times.
The Chronicler had been examining the history of life on Rune
I 66. the anatomy of the
Grays and researching some strange beings
I called humans. He
covers up his research by turning it into a TV programme and soon
has the Grays breaking
a the rules and getting a
2 bit too interested in a
' new concept called sex. _ Things start to go wrong ‘ and the planet ends up
Rachel Armstrong has
managed to strike a fine balance between the technicalities of sci-fi
and human interest. making it accessible to those apathetic towards or adoring of sci-fi with its amusing observations of humans and our fickle ways. (Jane Hamilton)
BLACK COMEDY ; SIMON KERR
The Rainbow Singer (Weidenfeld & Nicolson £8.99) I“.
Ulster 1985. Wil Carson isa bloody-minded » fourteen-year—Old with
escape and Catholic
102 THE LIST 6 Sop/20 Sep 2001
DAVE GOERMAN & DANNY
Are You Dave Gorman? (Ebury Press
You’ve maybe seen the stage show. You might have caught the telly series. Now here’s your chance to make up for achieving neither by getting this very funny book. Are You Dave Gorman? is the torrid tale of one man (Dave Gorman), his compulsively entertaining obsession and the misery inﬂicted upon his hapless ﬂatmate (Danny Wallace). When stand-up comic Gorman made his drunken bet with stand-up reviewer Wallace that he could ﬁnd just one other Dave Gorman somewhere in this world, neither . could have known that this simple ' wager would end with the pair travelling the globe from Greenwich to
Venice and East Fife to Tel Aviv in
search of similarly identical namesakes. A farcical beauty infiltrates this venture from the very first meeting with
I another Dave Gorman, the East Fife assistant manager. When asked whether
he himself knew of another DG, he paused for a moment before replying
regrettably that he knew of no one else sharing that moniker. Somehow, he
had conveniently forgotten that his father, son and grandfather were all, in
fact, Dave Gormans.
Monikers, misery and Methil
All the way, the collision of Wallace’s antipathy for the project and Gorman’s wide-eyed joy at being able to track down so many like-titled - if far from like-minded - souls makes for a wildly hilarious road comedy. Oddly, they never once bumped into another Danny Wallace. (Brian Donaldson)
hatred on his mind. The
Hope project in which
teenagers are sent tO
them to overcome their
Presbyterian minister and I a boy called Derry seem to be his only allies until.
fragrant yOung Catholic dOlly.
A fine debut. (Paul Dale)
two are combined for him when he is Offered a place on the Rainbow of I
Protestant and Catholic Milwaukee as part of a US peace initiative; a misguided scheme to get
of course. he falls for a
Simon Kerr has a great
' style that perfectly evokes the dyspeptic state Of
Ireland in the early 80s. a
time when the Fonz (Wil's hero) actually seemed like a valuable role model. His
initial comic touches give way quite quickly to something bleaker and more desperate that speaks right to the heart Of unredeemable bigotry.
PSYCI lODRAMA ZERUYA SHALEV
Love Life (Canongate $39.99)0000
entrancing; it's hardly : surprising that Zeruya ; Shalev's literary drama
has taken Israel by
storm. Her insistent first-person narrative
takes hostage Of your
heart. mind and
dreams. and hangs on tight. Ya'ara is a woman
whose love life is her all. That's why she
abandons a doting husband. forgets a PhD thesis. and finds herself locked up by a man who loves her mother; a
man in mourning.
whose wife is dead but not yet buried. That's why she leaves home. with only her lingerie. and yet still feels too cautious. as though only pretending to live.
But Shalev’s brutal honesty creates a sad story. Her words hang sorrowfully from each other as they interrogate
stories of the Temple.
stories of a dead past. Her characters are
broken people. tired of
chasing dreams only to find them dissolving
3 within their grasp. Don't expect one word of
consolation or joy.
(l leather Walrnsley)
JANET PAISLEY ; Not For Glory
(Canongate €9.99) 0...
Thanks to Janet Paisley's uncomproniising
j approach to Scottish rural working class life. this collection of shorts
offers some of the most
: sincere social insights in
modern Scots literature. Although her tales often graphically portray highly disturbing events child
abuse. wife-beating and 7 drug-dealing to name
but a few —‘ Paisley's writing is arguably far superior to the likes Of
AltltOtigh the bleakness
of the subjects is often 3 almost too much. Paisley's affection. gentle
humour and evident insight into her characters means that there‘s never a malicious Or repellent side to her storytelling. This book is in a minority in attempting to epitornise an area of society that could so easily be misrepresented or glarnorised; and she does it through honest observation and very. very thick dialect.
An impressive achievement and a moving experience, Not For Glory is a culturally
valuable sIOry collection
and more impOrtantly. a compelling read. (Olly Lassman)
Al Jl IEOBIOGRAPHICAL
BILLY CHILDISH My Fault (Codex £8.95) 0...
My Fault is an autobiographical novel by the artist. writer. musician, poet and former boyfriend of Tracey Emin, Billy Childish. Written with painful honesty. he takes the reader on a
I journey into his
‘crummy past'. From the beatings handed out by his violent father to the sexual abuse suffered at the hands of a family friend. Childish's vivid and trncomprornisirlg account of his childhood is brutally portrayed. Even into adolescence and early adulthood. expelled from art college for not playing the game, he
I makes desperate
attempts to make sense of it all.
A raw and highly personal novel, My Fault is at times extremely harrowing. His unorthodox style and gritty realism draws the reader in. Childish obviously had his reasons for writing it.
I et's hope his demons have since been well and truly exorcised. (Helen Monaghan)
Jenny Colgan Looking
For Andrew McCarthy (Ha/pe/‘Co/li/ )8 E9. 99) See those books fly from the shops as the Ayrshire-born romantic recalls the Bratpacker. George Alagiah A Passage To Africa (Little. Brown £316.99) The Beeb newsreader retraces his roots.
Irene & Alan Taylor eds The Assassin '3 Cloak (Canongate £14.99) The hefty paperback edition of this diary collection.
; Avi The Christmas Rat (Simon 8 Schuster
£7.99) A Yuletide mini- thriller for young readers. Sarah Strohmeyer Bubbles Unbound (Hear/line £10) A blonde hairdresser stroke detective hunts a brutal murdt—zrer. Who could be the Mel Gibson lookalike she's fallen for.