Fiction & Biography _ . j .
PHILIP GOUREVITCH A Cold Case
(Picador 5312.99) 0... JOHN McVICAR
Dead On Time
(John Blake $214.99) 0..
When Gordon Burn wrote Happy Like Murderers. he did nothing less than reinvent the true crime genre. His book on Fred and Rose West caused a right royal stink with its semi-fictional style and incisive technique of getting (fem) into the psyches of the Cromwell Street killers and their brutalised Victims.
All the facts of the case were in there. it was their presentation as ‘literature' which so offended: satiddenly. artists were no longer allowed to use artistry. In their very different ways. Philip
Gourevitch and John McVicar have adopted good old- fashioned reportage in approaching their very different
Ex-armed robber McVicar followed the Jill Dando ‘execution' from its immediate aftermath to the convrction of the Ninjutsu and Freddie Mercury-oi)sesse(l Barry George. Initially. he was writing columns on the case for Punch and then. after he was forced out of the magazine.
just for the hell of it.
Here we get the full unexpurgated tale strictly from the author's \./|0‘.".’j)()lllt. \.'.'hich essentially was that George may well have got away with it were it nor for the sterling efforts of McVicar and his courtroom correspondent cronies. It was they and not the Crown who discovered his true motives. based on mysticism and paranoia.
McVicar is so hellbent on getting us on his side that he throws in personal details such as the death of his dog (boo hoor but his vociferous attacks on the police investigation appear to be borne largely from his bitterness.
Certainly. they made some blunders which nearly led to George‘s acquittal (mainly on small stuff like forensics and alibisr. but had they taken one bit of notice of McVicar's arch writings. they would have arrested first a Serb hitman then Dando’s jittery neighbour. Yet. they only made one
ESSAY ($01 l_l;.Cl ION HANIF KUREISHI Dreaming And Scheming (Faber 58.99} 0...
Hanif has ditched the cold alienation
106 THE LIST ':-'- LN“, Ma'
There is nothing like the stench of real death to get a reader’s pulse racing
1': 'i r 5' L'
Crime reportage from the old school
arrest: Barry George. the man McVicar agrees put a gun against her head (pulled the trigger. now she's dead.
Philip Gourevitch. meanwhile. puts his own agenda well to one side to give us a speedy report of an unsolved double murder which took place in 1960s New York. The cops knew that Frankie Koehler had gunned down two men in cold blood but they just didn't quite get round to
making an arrest. allowrng him to flee from the city and into a 30-year legal limbo. Only when the case jogged the memory and censorence of tough talking. no nonsense Manhattan investigator Andy Rosenzweig did the wheels of justice grind to their natural end.
It all sounds like perfect Coen brothers territory (except Tom Hanks
has optioned the film rights). and really gets motoring in the
Anyone who has followed Hanif
Kureishi’s fiction career over the last
twenty years may feel they already know everything there is to know about his life and work.
As one of the few writers to achieve equal success over several genres — prose, plays and screenplays - Kureishi’s writing has visibly matured over the years, from the pop culture hedonism and punk politics of The Buddha Of Suburbia and My Beautiful Laundrette to later, sadder novels like Intimacy. Certain elements have remained consistent, however, with Kureishi continually returning to issues of
sexual, cultural and political identity.
This collection of non-fiction
writings finds him dealing with these
abiding themes directly through a
myriad of personal experience. As is
often the case, the biographical
detail is even juicier than the fiction.
And certainly, compared to the cold
alienation of his most recent novels,
second half when justice has finally caught up on Koehler and we get to peer into the mind of a murderer.
No matter how many Elmore Leonards or Ian Rankins you consume. there really is nothing like the stench of real death to get a reader's pulse racing. And while Gourevitch's distanced reportage and McVicar's personal Vitriol are riveting reads. nothing comes close to Burn's brutal portrayal of Gloucester's gruesome twosome.
this is Kureishi’s most engaging book in years.
The entries have been grouped together chronologically to create a compelling through-line to Kureishi’s life, beginning with a moving reflection on his father, himself an enthusiastic writer who failed to reach the audience he so craved. The book continues with a poignant essay on the author’s multicultural identity and his exposure to the complexities of life both in Pakistan and in suburban England.
Ultimately, though, this is a book that can be dipped into and enjoyed out of sequence. The most fascinating sections of the book are Kureishi’s clear, comprehensive meditations on the business of writing, making this an invaluable book, not only for admirers of Kureishi’s writing, but also as a guide for aspiring writers.
C/assic novels rev/sited. This issue: Brave New World
What’s the story? Welcome to the future. a world where the family has been abolished. no one grows old. sex is promiscuous and there's no better way of ending the week than taking a Soma holiday (Aldous Huxley's Vision of an ecstasy trip (30 years before his time). Genetic engineering is society's governing force. producing classes of people to order: stunted epsilons for the menial tasks. alpha pluses for the brainy stuff. e\./eryone happy with their lot.
Things get disrupted when Bernard. an alpha plus. starts thinking that freedom might be preferable to happiness. He discovers John. a Shakespearereading ‘savage'. on a resenration in New Mexrco and brings him back home but John is destroyed by the force of a brainwashed society.
What the critics said ‘l ligth diverting as much of the book is. it suffers from Mr lluxley's characteristic inability to believe really in anything': The Gr lard/an.
Key moment John attempts to liberate 16?. hospital menial staff by throwing away their Soma and shouting: "i come to bring you freedom'. A not ensues.
Postscript Huxley's grandfather was 'l homas. a prominent Darwinian agnostic; his great uncle was Matthew Arnold. the poet: and his brother. Julian. was a celebrated scientist.
First line test ‘A sguat grey building of only 1%.”. stories. Over the main entrance the words. CENTRAI l ONDON HAlCl itiRY ANl)
CONDI l'lONINO Cl N l till. and. in a shield. the World State's motto. COMMUNI lY. IDENTITY. STABIl ll'Y.‘
B n? l7 c" .N’r’ m We r'ld