more interest to literary enthusiasts than an impulse reader looking for an entertaining read. (Olly Lassman)

ESSAY COLLECTION JULIAN BARNES Something To Declare (Picador €8.99) 00'

8:] i' n es



Author and essayist Julian Barnes is a serious Francophile and this collection of essays. written over twenty years. purports to be his look at all aspects of French culture.

In fact this is something of a ruse. The first handful of essays tackle subjects like French music. cinema. cooking and a particularly enthralling investigation of drug- taking in the Tour De France.

But from there. things become much more specific and frankly dull. with over half of Something To Dec/are dedicated to Barnes‘ favourite subject, 19th century author Gustave Flaubert. Barnes is totally obsessed with the French author. a fact he acknowledges in the preface. and his essays on the man who brought us Madame Bovary are way too detailed and academic for general consumption. All that. despite Barnes' obvious skill as a writer and enthusiasm for his subject. So. if 19th century French literature ain't your bag. this is best avoided.

(Doug Johnstone)


The Courage Consort (Canongate £6.99) CO”.

There can't be many books that advertise themselves with a cover quote from Brian Eno. but then again there aren't that many books

concerned with avant— garde vocal ensembles. The five-strong Courage Consort travel to a sweltering Belgian chateau to rehearse the never-before—performed Part/tum Mutante for the Benelux ContempOrary Music Festival.

There are troubles enough with the piece a complex, occasionally atonal epic that seeks to convey the drama of the Creation even without the appearance of its problematic composer and a video artist who thinks it should be performed against the backdrop of

a giant labia. Within the

group. meanwhile. tensions flare as egos clash, strange voices wail from the surrounding woods and the tenor gets increasingly randy.

The Courage Consort is a wonderfully constructed and observed novella; short. succinct and significant and also. gratifyineg enough, uproariously funny. It is a work that showcases Faber's experience in the shOrt story form, while suggesting that he has one hell of a future as a novelist. (James Smart)


Black Vinyl White Powder (Ebury Press 937.99) .0...

Since the early 19608. ‘British' rock and pop music has ruled the world. Driven by brilliant. intelligent and. more than often. gay managers like Brian Epstein (The Beatles). Larry Parnes (Billy Fury) and Kit Lambert (The Who), the stOry of this extravagant and eccentric industry is a fascinating one far too often mistold amongst

a romantic haze of opium smoke.

Thank God then for Simon Napier-Bell. ex- jazz musician, raconteur and manager of The Yardbirds. Marc Bolan. Wham! and Japan. This is a mature. unpretentious and superbly written analysis of English pop history. Bell carries us through from the dick- sucking amphetamine- freaked male pop idols of the late 50s to the smack-heavy bouffanted 80s. always careful to keep his own story as a mere margin note to the circus of madness.

His reticence works. if only because it lacks any of the vanity so prevalent in the rest of this extraordinary business. The new paperback edition of this wonderful book is a must for gossipmongers and musicologists alike. (Paul Dale)


Richard Glyn Jones The Mammoth Book Of Women Who Kill (Robinson E 7. 99) Dissecting the likes of Rose West and Myra Hindley.

Niall Edworthy Planet Darts (Headline £72.99) True stony of the professional arrow- throwing circuit.

Latifa My Forbidden Face (Virago £9.99) A young woman's tale of growing up under the Taliban.

Matt Whyman Columbia Road (Flame C70. 99) FHA/7 writer pens Big Brother meets Bonnie And Clyde.

Jeff Connor Douga/ Haston: The Philosophy Of Risk (Canongate £16.99) Biography of acclaimed mountaineer.



Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics) 0000

Post the rapturous reception of the film Ghost World. the underground writer-artist returns to the anthology comic book from whence the strip originated with a new cast of characters as bizarre as they are mundane. The setting is another American mid- west Nowheresville. Ice Haven, which is defined by a series of loosely related stories. A mean- spirited bachelor laments the good old days. Kids while away the time bullying one another. A teenage girl dreams of escaping to Hollywood with her absent beau. Clowes' observation of antisocial behaviour is hilarious and disturbing. The dialogue is spot on and the mix of drawing styles from newspaper strip to children‘s cartooning is coolly ironic. (Miles Fielder)



Ivan Brunetti (Fantagraphics) O

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I'm no fucking prude. just so you know. Brunetti's collection of cartoons ain't funny. It is filthy. A wife asks her husband: ‘Why is Grampa dead. and why is his asshole filled with semen?’ A man about to have sex with a woman makes a request: “Hey. do you mind if I tape this photo of Macaulay Culkin onto y0ur back?’ A naked woman says to a naked man: ‘ls that your dick or do you have crotch-cancer?‘ Crude humour is fine. and I'm sure the misogyny is ironic, but this little book is filled with lame jokes. Like I say. I‘m no fucking prude. (Miles Fielder)


TALES FROM SHOCK CITY Mario & Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics) .00

Thinking us lacking for comics written by world weary sociopaths for world weary sociopaths. the merry Mexican Hernandez brothers of Love And Rockets fame deliver up Neutropolis aka Shock City. Rendered in their classic black-and-white style but given a blood red wash for added effect. Neutropolis is no way a happy hamlet and in three short tales devoid of morality and hope. we learn just how. Starting with a bitch fight for a pleasure chip that gives instant joy to the masses and culminating with an


obsessive conceptual artist, it is however hard not to appreciate the pitch black humour at play here.

(Catherine Bromley)



Lorna Miller (Slave Labour Graphics)

Excellent addition to the growing freaky world of independently produced mini-comics currently facing a massive resurgence in the states. The difference here is that the author/artist is not a Yank and not male. Lorna Miller is from Glasgow. but now lives in the Costa Del Dole (Brighton). Her wickedly irreverent

comic surfs lustfully

between the travails of misery guts Glaswegian

; off-licence worker

Angela. a bunch of mad

cows living on a housing

scheme and the real life of the Virgin Mary. These first two editions are disturbingly good and well worth getting into now. Peter Bagge and Fantagraphic's Kaz guest. respectively.

(Paul Dale) r __ \ sibuTINert

17—31 Jan 2002 THE LIST 87