dubioust “co-authored' this title. Which. appositely enough. is writing by numbers. Two page chapters keep you reading, plot twists mean you need some modicum of attention to follow what's going on, and the intrusion of Lindsay's long lost pop injects some human interest into the story. Not much human interest. mind, but it‘s (marginally) better than nothing. (James Smart)
MARY WORONOV Niagara (Serpent's Tail €8.99) 00.
Mary Woronov's simple prose style belies the fact that there's some pretty whacked out shit going on in the Cult actor's second novel. ‘I like the supermarket.‘ notes Woronov's Chinese-American protagonist. Molly Carson (or Mei Li as her mother calls her when angry). But for Molly, who has become a drunk with a car salesman husband since growing up and moving away from her family. a visit to the local store turns into a trippy nightmare involving Mickey Mouse and blackouts.
Ma aside. Molly‘s emotional problems also stem from the death of her beloved step- brother. Kenny, who plunged to his death over the titular falls. Or did he? Years later, while attending her father's funeral, Molly begins to question the fate of Kenny and, just for bad measure. whether her mother ever loved her.
Molly's first person narrative. which cuts between recollections of her youth and the drunken haze of her 203. makes for an hallucinatOry read. David Lynch would be at home on her lost highway. (Miles Fielder)
CRIME THRILLER ALEX GRAY
Never Somewhere Else (Canongate £9.99) .00.
At the height of crime fiction's 'Golden Age'. Agatha Christie wrote The ABC Murders. based on the saying: ‘If you want to hide a tree. put it in a wood.‘ In her debut. Glasgow crime writer Alex Gray updates Christie's premise with an atmospheric whodunnit about a spate of serial killings in which the victims are slashed. scalped, strangled with a bicycle chain and dumped in St Mungo's Park.
Leading the investigation into these brutal slayings is Scottish crime fiction's latest odd couple as the impenetrable Chief Inspector Bill Lorimer is grudgingly forced to accept the almost supernatural insight of criminal psychologist Dr Solomon Brightman.
Gray’s is a supremely confident debut. The prose is direct and evocative and the plot is jam-packed with the kind of classic ingredients — Clues. suspects. red herrings - that will have readers racing urgently towards the denouement until, red-eyed in the wee hours. the killer is unmasked.
LITERARY ANALYSIS FRANCIS SPUFFORD
The Child That Books Built (Faber €12.99) 0.
Francis Spufford has been an avid reader of books since the age of six. Sensing a kindred spirit, I couldn‘t wait to dive into The Child That Books Built. an examination of Spufford's own catalogue which delves into the wider implications of the
books we grow up turning the pages of.
I wasn't expecting a textbook. Remembering Where The Wild Things Are. The Hobbit. Swallows And Amazons and many more literary delights may fill you with a sense of magic. but for Spufford they're the springboard to discuss psychological and philosophical theories about childhood and storytelling: we're talking Bettelheim, Jung and Wittgenstein here.
'Hlv‘ ' III.Il I;IHI|\‘«
It's obvious a lot of research has gone into this work. but it's difficult to see who the book is aimed at. other than students of English literature. Written with cold detachment. The Child That Books Built will leave you yearning for the safe haven of fiction.
Angela Vallvey Hunting The Last Wild Man (Viking E 70.99) Moving portrait of working class Spanish life.
Lisa Sussman Cosmopolitan: Over 700 Things Women Should Know About Men (Car/ton £4.99) Top tips on fathoming blokes. Newton Thornburg To Die in California (Serpent’s Tai/ £7. 99) Reprint novel about the American Dream's nasty aftertaste.
Tariq Goddard Homage To A Firing Squad (Sceptre £72) Page- turning war narrative with a Lock, Stock. . . finale.
Anna Reid The Shaman 's Coat (Weidenfe/d & Nico/son £20) HistOry of the native peOples of Siberia.
ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Marvel)
nan I‘ i; "If 5‘! I 52R “TE I'
Frank Miller is a comics god. Dark Knight Returns and Sin City alone are proof of that. But even with this high water mark. E/ektra stands out as a deliciously mind- bending tale of secret agents. assassination. politics. love and ninja powers. Bill Sienkiewicz's art is an essential element in taking this to another level. where photo-realism. collage and cartoons merge effortlessly. He and Miller collabOrated using an almost freeform method. each issue going through three rewrites as they saw the possibilities each other's input hinted at. A tOur de force.
COMIC HISTORY JACK COLE AND PLASTIC MAN Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd (Chronicle) 0...
Marvel's Mr Fantastic might be the most famous elasticised superhero. but Cole's super-pliable creation from the 19505 wins the wacky award. In addition to chronicling his crimefighter's shapeshifting adventures. Cole was stretching the comic form to its limits. expanding his hero through frames and punching him through 2-
D covers. Spiegelman (Mause) and graphic designer Kidd's book is an appreciation of this artist. 'P/astic Man belongs high on any adult's “how to avoid Prozac" list,‘ says Spiegelman. Mixing strips and cover art with insightful commentary. the boys have done Cole proud by producing a wildly visual book.
SUPERHERO SATIRE MARSHALL LAW: FEAR AND LOATHING
Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill (Titan) .0000
In the world of San Futuro superpowered freaks. Created to fight in a second Vietnam. are now destitute burned out vets living in a crumbling dystopia. Marshall Law is the bitter and twisted hero-hunter who polices this world of casual violence and hyper sexuality. Kevin O'Neill's art is some of the most distinctive in comics. a brash angular style. full of scrawled graffiti and vicious characters. What other artist could carry off this acidic attack on
American politics and genetic manipulation? Long time collaborator Pat Mills provides the perfect script. turning in the sharpest. most vindictive superhero satire out there.
SCIENCE FICTION KIZZ
Alan Moore and Jim Baikie (Titan/ZOOOAD) COO
This enjoyable time capsule from 1984 sees Moore at the beginning of his brilliant career. Skizz is an extraterrestrial interpreter from the planet Tauceti who crash lands in recession-torn Birmingham. Scared and sick due to the high oxygen levels. he takes refuge in schoolgirl Roxanne's dad's shed. It is left up to her and her older, unemployed mates to save Skizz from the brutish Van Owen. a Nazi-style alien hunter. Released in instalments in QOOOAD about the time everyone was going ET crazy. Skizz was a welcome corrective: half as Cute. but more believable. The strip nicely incorporates elements of unemployment drama Boys From The B/ackstuff, cold war paranoia and a now sadly unfashionable belief in people-power. (Paul Dale)
I For details of a talk by comics Creator Trina Robbins (Sat 4 May, 2pm, Mitchel/ Library, Glasgow), see Art listings.
Stretching the form to It’s IImlt: Plastic man
25 Apr—9 May 2002 THE LIST 105