MUSIC HISTORY KENNY MATHIESON Cookin’ (Canongate £12.99) 0...


In Giant Steps. Kenny Mathieson stripped bare bebop and modern ja// between 19/15 and 1965 and this excellent follow- up investigates the slightly more rarefied field of hard bop and SOUI-jaZ/f 19:34—65. And so there are illuminating chapters on true gods of music Such as Art Blakey. Horace Silver. Jimmy Smith. Dexter Gordon and the mighty LOu Donaldson. Mathieson. a long time contributor to The List. ties things together with a music lecturers dry wit coupled with the obsession of the

converted. Ashley Khan's superb Kind Of Blue this may not be. but jazz is a difficult subject to write about even in a contextualised way being unguantifiable by its very definition but with his sober prose and iiiSightful retellings. Mathieson goes some way towards identifying a rarely discussed transitional phase in music history.

Two minor niggles though: the photos are uninspired at best and de8pite having a good index this book desperately needs some footnotes. (Paul Dalei

BLACK COME-DY NIGEL WILLIAMS Hatchett & Lycett (Viking Siossi no

A charge levelled at English fiction is that it's obsessed with the past. particularly with revi8iting key events (World War II. Thatcher's 1980a from a contemporary DOTSDt-XZtM}. N=gel Williams new novel revisits the early war years to take a subversive. comic swipe at all things stereotypically English.



Suzy, Led Zeppelin And Me (Codex 536.99) 000

The third paragraph says: ‘No part of this novel is longer than a few hundred words. Even with a short attention span, you’ll be able to read it, a little at a time.’ This is my kind of book: honest, knowing,

chatty, postmodern-lite and easy to read.

Martin Millar is still at it by chapter 60 (yes, this 200-page book is divided into no fewer than 104 digestible chunks): ‘The next fifteen chapters or so are just me dancing around in Green’s Playhouse, listening to Led Zeppelin and having a fabulous time.’

So why only three stars? Well, to give it any more would be to belie the slacker spirit in which it is written. Millar might be entertaining, but you couldn’t accuse him of overweening ambition. He aims low and scores high. The cult Glasgow-born, London- based writer calls this book a novel, but it’s not apparent why. It’s a seemingly faithful account of his teenage trip to see Led Zeppelin play his home city in 1972, coloured with rites-of-passage

memories of his friends, idols and crushes.

Every so often he cuts to the present to talk about his relationship with Manx, a former girlfriend, and about being a judge on a book competition without having read any of the books. It’s in

the tradition of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity or Giles Smith’s Lost In Music: a celebration of adolescent male obsessions, ironic but


A! funny .‘lml (lrrjlly it‘ll .i iiuvt‘l .i‘: ivc‘ “hill in yuu‘i

Ironic, postmodern-lite

It’s fun and untaxing and if I’m underestimating him, it’s because he makes writing a whole book about just one gig seem easy. (Mark Fisher)

The plot is gleefully convoluted. Returning

home after an excursion

to France in late 1939 with charges from Saltdene. a fashionable Croydoi‘. girls school. Norina Lewis discovers her colleague has been pOisoned and that she has inadvertently Siiiuggled into Britain a


Scottish Book of the Month WATERSTONE’S

The last word in books

106 THE LIST {9 2'"; Ma, £4.13?

Nigel Williams

Nulrhrll "It lyre-H

young German refugee With a terrible secret. War breaks out. and Norma finds herself the object of marriage proposals from childhood friends Hatchett and Lycett. Meanwhile. some unknown indiVIdual is gany bumping off Saltdene's Spinster schoolmistre ses.

Not all the book's many elements are successful. with the battle scenes

boing particularly sketchy.

Yet. Williams' novel is fast-paced and entertaining. the action veering between black. crass humour and high tragedy throughout. (Allan Radcliffei


Only In America (Flame 5,710.99) 00

Writing a novel should be abOut more than adding 'author' to your CV. For a well-known comedian. the significance of a first novel is magnified -- it should be original. well— conceived. and. most of all. funny. Unfortunately. Dominic Holland's effort skits around each of these criteria.

Choosing a female protagonist is the first hurdle he struggles over. The beautiful and talented Milly is an aspiring screenwriter. Through a sequence of fortunate events. her script finds its way into the hands of a Hollywood bigWig. Naturally he loves it. and sends his movie developer. and later unsuSpecting love interest of Milly. on a wild goose chase to find the author.

Told using a jigsaw of individual storylines which, incredibly. intertwme at the end. y0u really hope this Will-they- won't-they storyline WlII deliver an ingenious twist. It doesn't. There are two genuinely laugh-out-loud moments (one arising from. an over-styled afro and a naked flame). but the corniness makes this all-too predictable. (Maureen Ellis)


PERICOLI Manhattan Unfurled (Canongate 5720) O...

The traumatic events of l i Sf)j)t(?lllt)()l left more than a few scars on some

people and certain places. Architect and illustrator Matteo Pericoli cOLildn't have dreamed how different his Manhattan would be nine months after he completed his ambitious sketch at Christmas

Packaged in a rectangular (coffin- shaped’h casing. a drawing measuring 890m long can be opened and stretched over any wall yOu care to adorn. You can't help but cast yOur eyes upon the page which holds two large constructs situated between Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.

As the thOughtful accompanying essay by Paul Goldberger indicates. this pictorial drama w0u|d have been effective Without last year's disaster. But the destruction of the World Trade Center makes this a highly emotive snapshot which proves just how fragile this whole life thing can be. (Brian Donaldsoni



Shifu, You’ll Do Anything For A Laugh (Methuen fillet» .0.

Written by the critically acclaimed author of Bed Sorghun‘, this surreal collection of eight short stories neatly