NICK McDONELL Twelve (Atlantic €9.99) 0...
Don't worry, the title doesn't refer to the age the rich kids of Manhattan first got someone to rub their genitals for them. It actually refers to a drug. Part crack. part ecstasy. it is what propels 16-year-old Jessica. White Mike is a clever school drop-out who sells pot. He is a pretentious loner who nas read a little bit too much Camus. When a big party is arranged for New Year's Eve at posh kid's Chris“ house. tragedy is in the air.
This is an amazing debut for anyone. but fora 17-year-old. it is remarkable. Sculptured in simple prose and. set deep in the heart of young-privileged- parentally-neglected New York, McDonell has predictably been compared to Bret Easton Ellis. He is in fact closer to Jess Mowry (Sr'x Out Seven) for his impeccable realisation of a time. place and a social grouping all placed within a pre-Columbine Structure. Well worth a read. (Paul Dale)
MARK MANNING Collateral Damage (Creation £8.95)
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It’s hard to imagine a more pointless thing in the world to publish than a Zodiac Mindwarp American t0ur diary. And when you read Collateral
AUTOBIOGRAPHY SYLVIA SMITH
Appleby House (Picador £9.99) 0
A few years back, Will Self found himself foaming at the mouth over Nick Hornby. Once upon a time, he claimed, great literature was all about gods and kings. But with Hornbyisation and Bridget Jonesitis, people were churning out reams of fiction about non- entities living out their non-lives. Quite what he makes of Sylvia
Smith is likely to be unprintable.
When she sprung upon the literary scene last year with her Misadventures, Smith had everyone from Richard and Judy to Helen Fielding getting in a fluster over her understated genius. Everyone else was just confused. Ex-bus driver Magnus Mills found himself on the Booker shortlist for this kind of thing but his depiction of lives less than ordinary had surrealist twists and a lurking menace that eventually became tangible. This is just plain
Mr and Mrs Appleby own an east London guest house for young
ladies. In the summer of 1984, our Sylv checked in and a year later she checked out. And barely anything remotely of interest happens in the interim period. Oh, there is a bit of a feud among fellow tenants which reaches its frenzied height when the loo roll runs out. Quite why anyone would want to publish a dull book about such a dull life is way beyond
comprehension. Maybe it’s deeply ironic and I’ve been fooled by the hidden depths and political subtext at work. But I fear that’s not the case. Avoid forever and invest your time and money in
someone who sweats blood for their art. (Brian Donaldson)
Damage (for Manning is Mr Mindwarp and that‘s what this (8) it's hard to imagine a worse book ever being written. This is essentially a pubescent boys dream. packed with (no doubt ‘ironic'i xenophobia. misogyny, homophobia. sexual deviancy. drugs. booze. arse humour and loads and loads and loads of wanking stories.
It reads like it's been written by Kevin and Perry rather than a sad. middle-aged Brit in leather trousers wrth a Lemmy fixation. On the plus side. the pages are small. the typeface is big (rather like a Ladybird book for cunts; and there are only 191 pages. On the minus side. reading it still takes up two hours of your life and you can never. ever get those hours back. (Doug Johnstone)
Peyton Place (Virago $37.99) 0...
At a time when the myth of Mom's Apple Pie was being doled out to Americans and served
114 THE LIST 18 Julf Aug 2002
with a smile. Grace Metalious soured its taste by exposing the rotten apples fermenting at its core. Peyton Place. the story of a small town in New England. was first published in 1956 and became an immediate best seller.
Focusing on the lives of Peyton Places various inhabitants. sexual yearning and menace throb through the pages. with Metalious taking an unflinching look at taboos Such as child abuse. domestic violence and masturbation. Republished almost 50 years on. its shock value remains. The pages turn effortlessly and the SimpliCity of style belies the darkness and corruption which lie at its heart.
Erotic awakening is coupled wrth sexual abuse and these two forces hold the narrative together in awkward tenSIon. Female characters are strong while the men largely flounder and it certainly goes way beyond most chick lit pap produced today. (Ruth Hedgest
FAMILY DRAMA JUDY PASCOE My Father who Art in the Tree (Viking $10) 0....
There are few authors who can engage wrth death as the main premise of their work without creating something slightly dark and unattainable. Judy Pascoe subverts this
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ideology totally and creates a Simple piece seeped in tenderness and illLiSion.
When Simone's father snuffs it unexpectedly she is left with little support from her grief- stricken mother and Jrothers. She then begins to talk to her father. whom she believes to be lrvrng in a tree in the garden. Pascoe's attention to detail is both generous and unassuming. And the novel flows With salient metaphor and totemic folklore with the characters becoming as ethereal as the natural forces that Surround them. botl‘ protecting and stifling them.
Beautifully executed. Judy Pascoe's writing never submits to schmaltz or cliche. Tender and Simple. My Father who Art rn the Tree is a mini masterpiece.
POETRY COLl ECTION VALERIE GILLIES The Lightning Tree (Polygon $7.99) 0000
At the heart of Valerie
Lives less than ordinary
Gillies' latest volume of poetry is the tale of a Sutherland oak struck by lightning. and its Subsequent regeneration. This fertile metaphor allows the poet to explore abiding concerns. most notably VIOIOHCC and discord in nature. as well as love and death. Themes of destruction and rebirth embodied in the stOry of the Lightning Tree recur throughout. most powerfully in poems such as ‘Cool Cap'. which deals with the ‘hard hat thawing' of Successful chemotherapy.
The Lightning Tree
In her odyssey through Scotland's landscapes. legends and folk figures. Gillies employs language that is both rich and concrete to vrvidly create such neglected natural wonders as adders basking in the sun. hares leainng and features etched into cliff faces. Images of smoking trees. hoof prints in ice and the condemned breast of a cancer sufferer oi‘rened to the setting sun. resonate long after the
book is finzshed. (Allan Radcliffe)
DOTCOM SATIRE MIKE DAISEY 21 Dog Years (FOurth Estate £7.99) 0...
The internet backlash has begun. Freed from the confines of an NBA (non-diSCIOSure agreement). performance artist Mike Daisey tells all about his involvement in the world of dotcom mania. Set against a backdrop of rocketing share prices and booming business morale. Daisey paints a picture of paranoia and greed in his two year turbulent love affair with Amazon.
Seattle. late 90s: the internet bookstore is wildly expanding. Self- appomted dilettante and post-Gen X culture lover. Daisey is signed up alongside likeminded directionless individuals to iorn the web rat race. His attachment verges on the fanatical. lured by the promise of stock options and closer association with cult leader Jeff.
Originally a Spoken word show. the printed verSron allows more scope for Daisey to explore his ideas. applying his own hilarious theories of expansion. time co- efficients. insanity and desire to the dotcom industry. Touches of sentimentality add depth to a literary confessional that c0uld change the way we think about the internet. Funny and dangerous.
ALSO PUBLISHED Adam Phillips Equals (Faber 5372.99) Exarninrng childhood trauma. freedom, shame. inhibitions and the 'equals' sign.
Paul Martin Counting Sheep (HarperCo/lrns £14.99; The SCience and pleasure of sleep and dreams.
Charlotte Carter l/i/a/krng Bones (Serpents Tar/ f 7. 99) American love story cast in deepest noir.
Chris Greenhaigh Coco and Igor (Revrew £3 72/ Historical fiction about Chanel and Stravinsky. Victoria Beckham Learning to Fly (Penguin £6.99) It's Out in paperback. I'm afraid.