SPORTS ESSAYS DAVIS MILLER The Zen Of Muhammad Ali (Vintage €6.99) 00..

t)J\‘C Afillfl‘P

Daws Miller's obsessions gave him a career. Aspiring fan became aspiring scribe and e\./entually awardWinning sports writer. This volume collects together Miller's assorted IOLITHGIISIH on Muhammad Ali. Bruce Lee and the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.

His essays on Ali are the undOubted highlights here. Mirler's Singular. often confessional insights paint a revealing portrait of ‘The Greatest'. setting the record straight on h.s past life and current battle with Parkinson's disease without coming over as defensive or patronisgng. So goon was his essay ‘My Dinner With Ali'. that it was yudged by a panel of US magazine editors to be one of the E‘s/only finest nieces of sports JOurnalism of the last century.

Miller's colourful prose is lovingly lacguered wrth his ov/n enthusiasm. He writes as both a fan and .Ournalist. usually something which rarely comes off. Only by .ncluding some of his fiction work tacked on at the end here does this become a less enthralling collection. iMark Robertson)


The New You Survival Kit lHarperCollins 535.99) 0.

You know those books that Cosmo gives away free during the summer? Well this could be one of them. Admittedly there isn't much sand. sea or sex. but this light-hearted dip into the world of mixed-up PR girl Jo Smiley is as relaxing but instantly forgettable as yet another afternoon spent sunbatlrng on the beach.

84 THE LIST -2

'7 .Jat‘ Pill)?

Subtitled ‘An Essential GUlde To Etiquette. Rites And Customs Among The Modern Elite'. we find a little love stery struggling for light in the jungle of the mobile- phone obsessed. lunch- date cancelling. cocaine- snOrting Metropolitan media-pack. Waugh‘s

characters are wankers. and even though we wonder if they might be nice deep down. it's difficult to empathise.

Unlike Absolutely Fabulous where the PR world is parodied to great effect. we're never really sure if Waugh is being ironic or not. In a Culinary sense this book is a souffle: fine .f yOLi want a fluffy diverSion. but if you're hungry. find something else to chew on. iLouisa Pearsoni


HOWARD BUTEN When I Was Five I Killed Myself (Canongate $38.99)


WHEY.) f W‘s f”fo lief: .

Howard Buten is a clown.

Not a criticism. jtlSl mere fact and he has a shiny French Tony award to prove it. However, it's his other vocation as a clinical psychologist that comes to the fore With this twenty-year-old book. published here for the first time.

An (2ig.;lit-yI(-3zir-<)lrl boy tells us his story. havmg been placed in a mental hospital after increasingly deViant behaviour. He can't relate to the kids around him and has little


Into You (Bloodaxe £7.95) .00 Electric Brae (Faber 9799) .00.

We all wish we were interesting enough to write good novels and sensitive enough to pull off good poetry, so when you find someone who can do both, the obvious response is to run off and have a hissy fit. In 2000, Greig’s novel Last Summer gained both critical plaudits and decent sales, and its successor is Into You, his seventh

collection of verse.

Greig has certainly not had it all his own way. A recent brain illness almost killed him, while he struggled with ME for many years. Defining who you are and what life means to you in such a context must seem less like a philosophical question than a vital project and Greig’s preoccupations - the value of intimacy, the beauty of nature and the trials of being Scottish - are inflected with a compelling mixture of

sadness and joy.

Occasionally, his verse seems uneven, and his mix of theory and emotion can jar a little, but when they work, these ‘memorials to moments’

are marvellously effective.

Electric Brae was first published ten years ago by Canongate. The novel explores the twin fascinations of Jimmy, a thirtysomething mountaineer and rig worker: both the passionate, enigmatic Kim and the perilous climber’s grail of the Old Man of Hoy come close to breaking him.

This addictive novel sets its searing, seemingly incidental detail and urgent philosophy against the backdrop of an 803 Scotland that drips with pessimism and flares with fleeting happiness. A very welcome reissue. (James Smart)

time for the doctors both the sensible and offbeat varieties. Predictable Similarites with Holden Caulfield have been made. but Burton Rembrandt's attitude to growing up is less antagonistic. While Salinger's brat w0uld have wet himself over a kid having cartOOns on their lunch box. here they are only for ‘sissies'. Sadly. the repetition of the blank narrative voice only serves to grate and by the time we discover exactly what Burton did to Jessica. we barely care. Nice title. shame ab0ut the book. (Brian Donaldson)


Back Trouble (Arrow 535.99) 0..

From corpses floating face down in swimming pools to malevolent poltergeists. authors have invented endlessly weird and wacky devices with which to tell their stories. Not one to be outdone. Clare Chambers' contemporary tragi- comedy Back Trouble is narrated by a man who is laid up in bed for six weeks after slipping on a rogue chip.

Despondent. having


recently seen both his business and relationship go down the pan. Philip embarks on his life stery. Each episode from his childhood is interspersed with snapshots from his cherished (now defunct) relationship With Kiwi Kate.

Chambers writes with a light t0uch from the fix/ing start to predictable conclusion. applying a warmth and generosity of spirit to the essential dreariness of Philip's memoir. Crucially. however. even before he is rendered immobile. Philip is such a pathetic ninny that it is impossible to dredge up sympathy for his plight. And Kate. a no-bullshit nurse. is almost too- good-to-be-true and certainly too good for whining Philip.

(Allan Radcliffe)

Andrew , ,. Electric Bra ~

By the author of TIM! Slim


Searing, urgent and addictive

FAMILY DRAMA BEN FACCINI The Water-Breather (Flamingo 5:12.99) .0


Part One: Jea'inzo is the 'n‘iddle child'. both :n the uSual sense. ("‘tl n t"at he Sits in the 'l‘:(l(f‘(? a" the backseat. ’l's fa'i‘ii‘, lives in the-i" ca". ".etei’ stopping anyxz'herc- for n‘ore thai‘ '.'.‘eeks. This is an a‘.'.'ful fe. as anyone who has me been on a ‘an- 3. car (Ourney knees. lnus tf‘t": scene is set. lor tr‘e entirety of Part One. Part Two: the farm), wiser decides to settie down but. ..ii?’c"t:.'iate:§..

the oniy lion‘e ayailar‘le to

then‘ belonged to grant‘lfather. ‘.'.“;> tragically drowned taro years ago. Now follows. foi the remainder of the book. a series of \.ig'ie'.°.-;:-s a mat J(?£lll*pl() (i::;c;>‘.e'ii‘-g more about llle

grandfather's death. Nothing actuafl. happens in The L'A'ifer- B'eather. There are realistic. nice characters‘.o do iiorn‘al t'iings and the book is s )f‘.‘(:’.ll“€‘:5$ pretty and <x:<:asional:j. n‘oving. But 20:": pages of e\. oking a l ‘on‘ent exentually becomes tiresen‘e. and u'tni‘ately this is little n‘c'e Ilian i.'.«hi'i)sical sel‘-'r‘uugence.

iAnna Shipn‘a"


John Connolly The /<."fl’“(,' K ’71,‘ Coronet i'b'llfii More grisly sleuthing from Charlie 'Biitl' Parker.

Mary O‘Connell [gar/7g l'.-",'.‘/‘ Sal/ifs (Rev/0;:

5‘ 7:13)?) Ten tales of Catholic gotlrc. Richard Stone i‘vi’aniiirotlr 1/ mu?" f‘sfai‘e l'l-J.S)S)i ll'llt’} stories of explorers seeking eudence of the woolly Ice Age beast.

Michael Morpurgo line last l 727" -i’)cubi'edav 970.95) Kials' tale of; Jacobite ‘.’.arrior‘ befriending a wolf.

Nick Rennison ed [ff(.‘().’,“3{.’).i"‘. Unix} li’eatifir‘g; (full :e lfft)()".‘f§.’)..."i f‘.'-1_:l§)

r'.‘ l}; ."5l.§)5l :‘ l) r’\llf1\."./{?l7lltl the question: '\\'Iutt shi‘iilil l‘e