FAMILY DRAMA BANANA YOSHIMOTO Goodbye Tsugumi (Faber $29.99) 00000
The contemporary Cult that is Banana Yoshimoto is back after As/eep with a new. and quite staggering full- length novel. Translated by Michael Emmerich. this should ensure that her fan base continues to rise. Her trademark style of suggested emotion through bold statement carries this beautiful tale of growing up and forgiveness.
Forced to move to Tokyo with her family. leaving behind her friends and in particular Tsugumi — her invalid cOusin and all round spoilt brat — Maria is forced to face up to the loss of no longer being by the ocean and its Surroundings. Invited by Tsuguml to stay one last Summer by the sea. Maria gradually discovers the real meaning of home. family and love.
With an ama7ingly open and accessible style. Goodbye Tsugumi is one of the best examples of great translation since Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A find in a million. (Aly Burt)
ADULT COMIC VARIOUS
Dirty Stories Volume 3 (Eros/Fantagraphics price tbc) .00
Those in the know call this progresswe porn: a bit like progressive rock but you get to jerk off during the guitar solo. This enjoyany randy collection of sex-based stories owes a lot to The 7 (fl ia/ ia Bib/es. the classic 60s underground comics that were unparalleled at the time for sheer irreverence and explicitness.
The new Dirty Stories
lurch from the silly to the surreal to the occasionally gross with the best strips having a quirky sense of their own importance and keeping the generic misogyny to a minimum. ‘A Scandal in St J' by Mack White is hilarious for its misplaced fatalism; Rick Altergott's 'Mile High Club' is exactly what it says it is.
'A Sex Positive Adventure'; and Tim Hensley's ‘Daikon' is oddly moving. Otherwise there are as many hits as misses though one can't help but be impressed by the perverse energy of many of the artist's draughtsmanship.
PHILOSOPHY TALE KENZABURO OE Rouse Up 0 Young Men of the New Age! (Atlantic €12.99)
Rouse Up . . . is just your average. everyday tale of how an ageing Japanese writer and intellectual attempts to relate to his mentally handicapped son through the poems of William Blake. Not exactly Nick Hornby. is it? In reality Ken/aburo Oe a Nobel ane for Literature winner — is an ageing Japanese writer and intellectual With a mentally handicapped son and a Blake fixation. Sound familiar?
The end result is. sadly. a book that achieves no
1 14 THE LIST 7/ Aug 5) Sop 12’13)?
LITERARY MEMOIR RICK MOODY
The Black Veil (Faber $216.99) 0..
On mastering the rudimentary functions of the world wide web, most of us will immediately type our names into a search engine. There we may discover what celebrated or accomplished types past and present share our moniker and, possibly, our lineage. While an essentially pointless exercise, borne from the basest of tribal needs, the results can be strangely comforting, even if all we actually share with these cyber-relatives is a word or two on a birth certificate.
For Rick Moody, author of The Ice Storm, the process of searching out Moodys through the ages proved a healing one. In his late 205, at the end of a decade of aimless drifting, drugs and joyless relationships, Moody descended into a manic depression, winding up in a run-down New York
Forced to confront his erratic behaviour and lifelong sense of melancholic guilt, Moody began searching out similar signs in his paternal ancestry. Having started with his father and grandfather, his deeper quest led him on a journey around America’s east, into the short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne and back some 250 years in search of the intriguing ‘Handkerchief’ Moody, a troubled puritan minister.
Subtitled ‘A Memoir with Digressions,’ this qualification serves as a warning to readers expecting the usual A-Z approach to depression autobiography. Moody’s account darts about in time and place and his loose, unrestrained, slightly manic narration is, at times, dizzying. Ultimately, though, the author’s passion is infectious, and the book comes together as a powerful portrait of youthful meandering and eventual rehabilitation through unconventional means. (Allan Radcliffe)
distance from its potentially intriguing Subject matter. and one so self-absorbed it becomes positively infuriating. As the author rec0unts the development of his alter ego's relationship With his son whom his family have nicknamed Eeyore (yes. really). Oe sadly becomes bogged down in ego-driven hypotheses despite his best efforts. What's left is an oddly uncomfortable book that touches on interesting topics Such as the nature of human self- awareness and social responsibility. but never delivers on them. (Doug Johnstene)
FAMILY DRAMA TANIA
UNSWORTH The Seahorse (Viking $212.99) 00 Set in a version of India that feels as authentically eastern as Sussex. The Seahorse gently (very gently) prods around the nature of iii()iii<)ry and relationships. Mothers and daughters are glorified. sex is yilified and tea is exalted. It begins as a faintly lovely study of familial love. death and exploration but ends as a thoroughly English whodunnit. Setting it in India does not alter its formulaic base and Tania Unsworth drowns some
beautiful characterisation with a mechanical story and a climax that contains all the energy of a tap on the shoulder. Our protagonists. Vanessa and Marion. are almost neglected by the conclusion. with peripheral characters unbelievably coming to the fore. including a would—be rapist prince and a rather ineffectual hero who paints miniatures of mountains.
Its attempts at exoticism seem to highlight how average it is. Perhaps if it hadn't hidden behind psychology and the subcontinent. it might have been glorious in its simplicity. Shame. (Rowan Martin)
SOCIAL HISTORY EDWARD
The Plague Race (Picador $714.99) .00
Mice and rat populations are on the increase again iii modern Britain. and this book shows the worst case scenario ahead. Jumping between thriller detective novel and seientific journal. it plots the race between Alexandre Yersin and Kitasato. two workI-renowned I)zicteriologists. to discover the cause and effects of the Plague. Concentrating on the last major outbreak in
Hong Kong at the end of the 19th century. Edward Marriott uses published papers and diaries of the two men to open up a world of research. favouritism. egos and political manoeuvring. Interspersed throughout. he also tells of the plight of Surat in India in the late 20th century and the ongoing problem in America. bringing this medieval disease much closer to home.
Worryingly. you are left with the impression that political posturing continues to hide a forgotten disease that is actually dormant. The Black Death could be just around the corner. (Aly Burt)
MEMOIR TRAVELOGUE JENNY DISKI
Stranger on a Train (Virago $315.99) 0000
For most of us. the idea of travelling by train for days on end is horrendous. let alone travelling by transatlantic cargo ship. But in Jenny
Not an A-Z depression autobiography
Diski's Stranger on a Train. she makes it setind appealing.
In this compelling memOir. Diski viVidIy recreates the two (Ourneys: one aboard a ship crossmg the Atlantic Ocean: the other. a railway circumnaVigation of America. Reflecting on themes of death. tragedy and friendship. we meet the strangers that she. at first. reluctantly befriendS. As they divulge details of their often tragic lives. Diski reserves her personal details for the reader.
From a troubled youth spent in psychiatric hospitals to the pleasures of smoking and the comfort of solitude. she allows her inner thoughts. emotions and feelings to surface. In combining elements of a traditional travelogue in a memoir. Diski creates an honest and absorbing journey of discovery.