JED MERCURIO Bodies (Jonathan Cape £10.99) 0000
First up. a public health warning. Anyone not wholly trusting of medical practitioners will not have their distrust assuaged by Jed Mercurio's debut.
In Bodies. the Cardiac Arrest scribe gets under the disintegrating skin of a young medical graduate who arrives with shining morning face for his first hospital job. Once part of the ‘interior‘ of an understaffed A&E. the unnamed houseman's principles evaporate to be replaced by a cold pragmatism before he suCCumbs to the cavalier attitude of his superiors.
Mercurio's novel is not withOLit its faults. The author leaves us with no sense of whether his protagonists journey from naivety through hysteria to numbness is a typical one. He also c0yly suggests that his character has discovered some religious faith. a hint at the divine power of the medic. but an idea that is underdeveloped and irrelevant. Yet overall. the book is morbidly compelling, fully conveying the stench and visceral horror of hOSpital life.
ART MEMOIR GERARD MALANGA Archiving Warhol (Creation £14.95)
Gerard Malanga was chief assistant at Andy Warhol's Factory in New York from 1963 to 1970 and helped produce
many of the now legendary works as well as featuring in several Warhol movies including Couch and Chelsea Girls. He hung out with the Velvet Underground and became a poet and photographer.
With this coffee table collection of writings on the great Pop Artist, you get the idea that Malanga happened to be in the right place at the right time. There's plenty to enjoy here even if in an arcane second hand way.
The opening interview from 1963 is silly and funny, and some of the longer essays are a little earnest but the throwaway stuff like 'Andy Warhol On People Places Food Art' are (as they should be) vacuous pieces of puerility. Malanga's beautiful and illuminating photographs pepper this Cute companion piece to Warhol's own A To B And Back Again.
CRIME DRAMA MANUEL VAZQUEZ MONTALBAN
The Angst-Ridden Executive (Serpent's Tail $26.99) 0...
Manuel Vazquez Montalban's novel was first published in 1977, but its focus on corporate corruption is a prescient one. Antonio Jauma. head of the Petnay multinational's southern European operation is found in a ditch with a woman's underpants in his trouser pocket and a bullet in his heart.
A pimp is tapped as the killer. but ex-CIA man and Montalban regular Pepe Carvalho sees mores powerful forces behind his murder. He's not in too much of a hurry to unmask them. however. courting witnesses and suspects in a series of meetings. squash
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EXISTENTIAL DRAMA ISLA DEWAR
The Woman Who Painted Her Dreams (Review £10.99) 000
Isla Dewar is remarkably good at setting a period. The perplexities of being a small only child in a house of adults circa 1959 is beautifully captured in descriptions like: ‘Her lips and fingernails matched the scarf. And once when Madeline was lining up her dolls under the kitchen table, she’d seen Janet slip her foot from a black pump, and noticed that her toenails matched the scarf, too. Madeline
had stared at those toes in wonder.’
This succinct device of descriptive wonder is used again and again throughout the story of Madeline usually to signpost a time and place or a progression of emotional maturity. If only Dewar could use her very obvious skills as a prose writer to move her plots to a place where the reader won’t feel the fidgeting hand of emotional
Madeline Green lost her mother in childbirth, while her father Ted, a gentle man with hippyish tendencies is her hero. When he dies, Madeline is lost, but knows she wants to paint despite being able to find her own voice. She then
befriends Annie and her alcoholic builder husband Willie, finds a soulmate and lover in Stuart. Eventually, they move to the countryside, witness a few crazy storms, drink a lot of whisky and watch their love wither. Madeline finds her voice by painting her dreams, receives some recognition and cash and is able to finally deal with ‘the me I am’.
This is life journey psychobabble for menopausal fans of Barbara Pym. If you like that sort of thing, The Woman Who Painted Her Dreams is of a superior vintage. Everyone else should avoid.
matches and gratuitOusly luxuriant meals. He even sleeps with Jauma's widow and contemplates man's place in the world while riots sweep Barcelona's streets and Franco‘s influence slowly fades.
Carvalho confronts the world's ugly undercurrents with a bruised idealism that will be familiar to fans of Philip Marlowe. but this deceptive. leisurely novel has an appeal that is decidedly individual. (James Smart)
SHORT STORIES SUSAN O’NEILL Don’t Mean Nothing (Black Swan €6.99) 0..
SUSAN own“. a w.
“TWEZ'M You'd think that there was nothing new to add to the canon of American writing on Vietnam, but this debut collection of powerful short stories manages to take a different slant on those horrific proceedings.
Susan O'Neill was a serving army nurse during the Vietnam War. and this web of
connected stories examines the effects of the inhumane carnage on those behind the frontline working in the field hospitals.
There is a seam of bitterly dark hum0ur lacing the tales here. making it read at times like an episode of M'A'S'H. and in general there is real empathy With most of the characters as they struggle to make sense of the bloody chaos around them. At times though O’Neill's prose style seems somewhat underdeveloped. and she does occasionally plump for obvious tWists in an effort to make an impact. An interesting angle on a tired subject. but not always expertly executed.
CARL HIAASEN Basket Case (Macmillan £10) 0..
Jack Tagger is just about washed up. A former star reporter with a Florida daily, he's been demoted to writing obituaries and is now obsessed with death. At 46. he's the same age as Elvis was when he made his ungraCious exit. But things are starting to hot up when his former punk hero Jimmy Stoma washes up dead in the Bahamas; Tagger smells a rat and a story to boot.
Basket Case has a laid-back Florida charm but a bite as sharp as an alligator. A journalist himself. Carl Hiaasen knows this territory well and effortlessly brings the newsroom to life. Combining social comment with a series of comic misadventures (including one with a frozen 7ft lizard). this is easy reading.
Like Elmore Leonard. it's cinematic too; the sun-drenched settings just call out for A-list stars and Steven Soderbergh behind the camera. For all that, it doesn't quite pack the same punch as Hiaasen's previous novels and is really more of a lunch date than a three course meal. (Louisa Pearson)
FAMILY DRAMA PATRICIA DUNCKER The Deadly Space Between (Picador 5:14.99) .00.
With a crazy. arty mother. no father and an
Life journey psychobabble
unhinged auntie and her lady lover for company, it‘s hardly surprising that eighteen-year-old Toby is a little mixed up. When mum's enigmatic lover Roehm comes on the scene he not only provides Toby with a father figure for the first time but a whole other set of issues to deal with. And of course. there‘s nothing like a bit of oedipal drama to turn your twisted family into an altogether more intriguing voyeuristic trip. Patricia Duncker's expressive prose is riddled with quirks and twists as she builds tension, first thr0ugh bewilderment, then through a creeping sense of anticipation. All the while. the ghostly spectre of Toby's father skulks around in the background.
The palpable sexual tension between mother and son. their idiosyncratic. but ultimately believable lifestyle and the well- drafted extraneOLis characters all add up to