As the action progresses, the revelations come in from all directions. with Claire skipping back and forth in time to elucidate the mystery of Celia's mother's life, in prose that is both rich and direct. The question of who is sending Celia black tulips and making crank phone calls provides a focus for the reader’s interest, but the book suffers from not knowing what it wants to be.
The Beauty Room veers from character study to thriller to ‘confessions of a decorator' when Celia starts bonking sexy Alex. Melodramatic it may be. this is nevertheless an original and enjoyable debut. (Allan Radcliffe)
CRIME THRILLER DAVID BENIOFF The 25th Hour (NEL $35.99) 00.
David Benioff's crime debut follows the last night of freedom of a contemporary Dorian Gray. condemned to seven years for peddling dope on the streets of New York. As the green-eyed hard man, Monty Brogan, reflects on his wicked, wicked ways, the author focuses in turn on each of his associates preparing to say their goodbyes.
This is a relatively involving holiday read, rendered in clipped, no- nonsense prose. which ultimately suffers from a lack of character ambiguity as well as being mired in po-faced machismo. Monty is beautiful and tough, his girlfriend Naturelle merely exotic, his two best buddies. Jake and Slattery, a coward and a gambler respectively.
They're all prone to lines like ‘that only happens in the movies.“ but the action and
supporting cast (a
brash Ukrainian hit man, a sentimental Irish : father and a culinary
expert crime boss)
could have been lifted
from any cliche of the
New York crime scene.
SOCIAL HISTORY ‘ ANDY BECKET‘I’
Pinochet in Piccadilly
(Faber £15.99) 0000
HET IN PICCADlLLY
‘The banality of evil‘ was the phrase Hannah Arendt applied to the Holocaust. With repression and mass
suggested, there was
no act that could not
be justified by its perpetrators. Morality could whistle.
What is perhaps more perplexing is the case made by the apologists: the ‘but the trains ran on time' school of thought. Which is why Guard/an journalist Andy Beckett‘s book is fascinating. If you want to understand why
Thatcher came out of
semi-retirement in the late 90s to defend her favourite ex-dictator and why a number of 70s city fat cats, right wing radicals and senior military types were inspired by Pinochet's ‘Thatcherite
before Thatcher' i approach, read this.
The shared history of
_ Chile and Britain is ? certainly a curious one.
And the suggestion that it was not merely the oh-so-ironically descnbed‘shock treatment' monetarism of Pinochet that inspired some thinking here on the right is truly
' chilling. (Rodger Evans)
SHORT STORIES AMIT
Real Time (Picador €15.99) .0.
In ‘The Man from the Khurda District'. Bishu overlooks Jagan's
\‘xtll «tl‘tl lilll (I;
R I“. .I\ l. l‘ l M I".
activities because of the monsoon rains: 'The days were monochromatic and dull, with light like a suggestion.’
Real Time is Amit Chaudhuri's first collection of stories. drawn from over 30 years. They share a sense of being a prolonged snapshot: no resolutions are made. no plots thickened, but new characters are given life.
In ‘Words. Silence‘ Mohon has gained so much weight that his old friend barely recognises him. The story describes only their dinner, but we are made aware of the chasm that now exists between the once close friends. and despite the narrator's aSSurances — ‘l'm sure my father would remember Mohon and that he was ready to be transferred to Calcutta' — we know they will not meet again. Much is left unsaid. but there's enough here to give an incisive insight into modern India. Evocative and well- written. (Anna Shipman)
ALSO PUBLISHED Catherine Millet The Sexual Life of Catherine M (Serpent's Tall £7 2) Sex and the City meets The Story of 0.
RJ Price A Boy in Summer (7 7.9 £9.99) Haunting shOrt stories set in the west of Scotland.
Kate Figes The Terrible Teens (Viking £39.99) What every parent needs to know.
Glen David Gold Carter Beats the Devil (Sceptre £36. 99) Epic yarn about magic, love. science and redemption.
Anthony McReavy The Toy Story (Ebury Cl 7.99) The life and inventing times of Frank Hornby.
For Every Solution There’s a Problem (City Slang)
Total Lee! The Songs of Lee Hazlewood (City Slangi
The Three Amigos: Hazlewood and sons
Lee Hazlewood is a god, a porno-tached cowboy serenading the filthy and dispossessed of the desert. If you don’t have the best of Lee and Nancy in your record collection you should be ashamed of yourself. At his best (‘Sand’, ‘Jackson’, ‘Some Velvet Morning’, ‘Summer Wine’) he talks directly to the deviant and poet in all of us without the macho posturing so endemic in country/rockabilly.
For Every Solution There’s a Problem is a selection of eleven demos Hazlewood has made and dismissed over the years. Hazlewood’s trash is most people’s treasure. Each one of these songs is beautifully crafted and slyly written. ‘Dirtnap Stories’, ‘Buying Back’ and ‘Suddenly Tennessee’ are glinting pieces of gold on a dusty
Total Lee is a pretty good starting point if you want to get on the trail with the great man. Tribute albums are usually problematic as they leave pop stars far too much room to swing their enormous egos, but this is a solid stately affair with full marks going to Lambchop for ‘I’m Glad I Never’, Calexico for ‘Sundown, Sundown’ Johnny Dowd for ‘Sleep in the Grass’ and the Tindersticks for ‘My Autumn’s Done Gone’.
There are a few embarrassments here — the Webb Brothers pale version of ‘Some Velvet Morning’ for starters - but for the most part this is a nicely sordid treat. (Paul Dale)
EXPERIMENTAL VINCENT GALLO
Recordings of Music
~ for Film (Warp) 0000
.*' hut-r ’
h. .‘a .2
Vincent Gallo: reactionary renaissance man. He acts. directs. paints. abuses gays and writes his own motherfucking mUSIC. man. And over 29 short
tracks for four filinic projects. Vinnie shows he can make the heart weep one minute and set all our teeth on edge the next.
‘The Way it is Waltz' is an evocative piano lullaby. but 'A Brown Lung Hollering' recalls the SOund of a donkey in distress: 'Drowning in Brown' is a funk riff being released from years of solitary confinement, while 'Ass Fucker (Reprisel' is Tom Waits' donkey in distress. If anything deserves to be under
the Warp umbrella. then Gallo's humour is it. (Brian Donaldsoni
POP DAVID GRUBBS Rickets & Scurvy lFatCati 0000
Those pining for the days when Red House Painters daubed the world With melancholy magic can rest assured that a saviour could be among us. Gi‘aced by a veice which haunts and moves as elegantly as Mark Ko/elek's. David Grubbs is doing his utmost to clear an i(‘liosyncratic patn for himself.
With this. his third album. Grubbs has crafted songs for the bluest of guitars while his piano player should be awarded a key post in any a<lmi'iistratioié. While Grubbs opts for swamp), ‘-.'.’(}il'(lll(l'f3fs on ‘Crevasse'. he should concentrate on breaking hearts rather than dividing atteption. Constantly Stilti" swig. often stunning. Tickets 8 Scurvy cures r‘.‘cst aural ills. lBrian Donaldson,
POP REINDEER SECTION
Son of Evil Reindeer (Briglitstari 0...
Teenage Fanclub. Astrid. Snow Patrol. Eva. Alfie. Mull Historical Society. Mogn'xai. Belle and Sebastian. l(ll(}‘.'.’ll(l. I am Scientzst. Aral: Strap. That's just a selection of the 26 bands contributing members to the l‘.(3‘.'."(}f3t llli§t£l'."l(?llt oi‘ the Reindeer Section. This srioultl sound like the “Kilt? music equivalent of /."s a Knockout but insteazl is a skeletal. gentle collection of acoustic countn, ballads bolstered ‘.'.'itt‘. n‘iouest smatterings of brass. guitar. keg. s and a spray of (ltlillli‘, \.o<:a!;sts.
Parts of So." of. . . may lack the \.ariett. ramshackle charm anti lllltl(l\ striftness of the previous album but ‘.'.itl: Snow Patrols (3am thjllttltxl). as t'ie musical ce'iti tuga terse again. it Is colterent beast titar‘. -t looks on paper. ll‘.:; ;:; more than just a t.’ltl.’"l)i‘.
oi organisatiol‘. .t is also a theiigrittu' ant: (jute beautiful record.
.‘ THE LIST 105