corvir IJY con i- ciioN RICH HALL

Things Snowball (Abacus $79.99) 000.

things snowbamlch hall

The exercise seemed futile. A debut short story collection with bits Of fiction, fantasy. autobiography. travelogue and satire. delivered by a Perrier wrnning AII‘OI'ICEill comedian. At first. the collection of guasi- related news stories and fantastical childhood memories packaged by a man who nas lived the life less ordinary seemed self-defeating.

Rich Hail ridicules the united state in which his home country finds itself for the benefit of a specifically British readership and vents his frustration on the foibles of modern living through eccentric nuggets of sardonic cheek. But somehow it works. Drier than a WOOKOIVI at Betty Ford's. Hal! sends up iiis white trash background. Greenpeace campaigners i'crusty. pot addled water yahoos'i. and lame duck Dubya.

Blurring the tine between fact and fail; cg. ofter‘ desta'r;.lises the trust you feel ‘cr a' Hail n.r./r~tes. and some of his outpour'ngs on relig:or‘ and milttary culture ll‘lSS tne mark. but his rrecortstructionist style is urticrous and very

funny. 'I\/l€tl.l":(3" Ellis:

TRUE; (IlilMl RANDALL SULLIVAN LAbyrinth (Canongate STIUU‘Ji Q...

If the books of James Eillroy are to be believed. los Angeles is a hotbed of criiirinal activity and crooked cops. With [Aby/‘i/it/i. Randall Sullivan proves l lIroy's fictional twists to be painfully close to reality. Using the murder of a black police officer by one of his .vhite brethren as the leaping off point

112 THE LIST ’-L'- ’r'


JEFFREY EUGENIDES Middlesex (Bloomsbury $316.99) .0.

Like many writers of successful first novels, Jeffrey Eugenides has taken a while to produce a follow- up. Middlesex comes almost a decade after his breakthrough with The Virgin Suicides, and as if to justify its lengthy gestation period, it’s an imposingly weighty tome. Eugenides’ prose retains the energy, wit and tenderness that distinguished his debut, but one mourns the spare, heat-seeking

concision of that work.

Middlesex is ostensibly a first-person account of the life of a hermaphrodite named Calliope Stephanides, who is taken for a girl at birth but subsequently develops male characteristics. However, Eugenides tracks her/his story through eight decades and three generations, including so much background colour that he overwhelms and finally rather neglects his central subject.

It’s Book Three, 215 pages in, before ‘Cal’ is even born. Certainly the love lives of Cal’s parents and grandparents are relevant, since their tendency towards inter-marriage creates the genetic malfunction that makes her/him what she/he is; but as Eugenides ekes out historical background and domestic minutiae, one feels he’s bloating a small, interesting novel into a large, over-written epic simply for the sake of it. And it’s only once Cal’s own story begins that Eugenides himself seems to relax. His talent blossoms in intimate details, not broad strokes or tangential musings.

Like its protagonist, this novel seems to have been forced into a form it was never meant to take. There’s something clever, beautiful and delightfully ambiguous in there somewhere. But, obscured by fuss and frills and unnecessary baggage, it takes a long, long time to make itself known. (Hannah McGill)





for his story. Sullivan dives into the murky underworld of the I APD where gangs. drugs and greed proliferate. He uncovers case after case of corruption. ritiscarriages of Justice and suppression of evidence and testimony. most prominently in the murders of rappers l'upac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.

Much like an Ellroy novel. the wealth of detail is considerable but Sullivan has a meticulous. measured style that resists getting bogged down in legalese. A complex but revelatory tale where Sullivan. unlike blunderiiig filmmaker Nick Brooiitfield (creator of the botched docuiizentary Biggie and lupac; doesn‘t get in over his head.

(Mark Robertson)


Lazy Ways to Make a Living (Time Warner $23.99) 0



In the same way that hundreds of dreadful. gritty. sweary Scottish novels were published in the y-xake of it‘arnspotting. so untold trees have been sacrificed on truly woeful chicklit subsequent to the launch of Bridget Jones}; Diary. But this execrable book could be a new low in fiction.

At times so bad it's laugh-outloud funny. / a/v 'f/ays to Make a [mug is a terrible waste of paper. ink. time and money and is teeth grindineg ciingewortliy front start to finish. Our I dinburgh heroine. Rose. is intelligent. pretty and skint She meets a gorgeous old flame. Jaiiiie. who is


now loaded. They come to an ai'rangemmit. where she becomes a kept woman. And there's an idioticaliy obvrous chess metaphor running through proceedings. Cliai'acterisatioii. plot and narrative are absent. Lssentially. th:s is Mills & Boon wrth pretensions to being literature. Which makes it worse than Mills & Boon. Which makes it very, very had indeed. (Doug Johnstonei

HIS’IOl-tICAl [)HAMA ANNE ENRIGHT The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (Cape 912.99) 0...

-T.§r mewrr a E” a .[ver f .


We start in Paris with the 20 thoughts that go through the head of Eli/a lynch between the 7f) thrusts of l rancisco

I ope/. her lover and hen apparent to Paraguay Anne I nriglit plots the

:By théttaiithor of The Virgin Suicides

Fuss, frills and baggage

fictional Journey of this infamous 19th century tart as she travels to South America to meet the parents and generally create socral scandal wherever she appears.

Including an insane l()tll‘ll()y by boat (shades of Her/og's Fit/carra/do) the tale of this pregnant Irish mistress is beautifully charted. We get a fantastic depiction of both her travels and the social ostracism she faces from the people of Asuncion because of her bewitching beauty and dubious history.

Edinburgh's Royal Mile is the final venue for this inesmerising tale. echoing wonderfully the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this prostitutes rise in society and her ability to mask her past. (Aly Burt)


Mr Strangelove (Sidiick & Jackson 5‘. 18.99) 0...

“Peter's not a genius. he's something more. He's a freak] Spike Milligan's jokey 1960 soundbite (on hearing the news that his friend and fellow Goon Peter Sellers had purchased a life si/e mechanical elephant) ring s sadly true through this

Ed Sikov


i. alojdcfl‘i {rifle-tar setter” 5

compelling dissection of a life.

Born into vaudevrlle. and indulged by his possessive mother Peg. it seems Sellers was destined to be a fairly awkward. unguantifiable adult. He attempted to destroy and limit his women and was an appalling father. but at his best he was a brilliant mimic and superb comedy actor.

Ed Sikov carefully balances Sellers' creative nirvanas wrth tales of paranoiac (‘IepraVity The diffiCuIt genius who turned films like Dr Strangelove. Lolita and A Shot III the [Dark into dyspeptic inz,tsterpi<-2ces has finally been given the authorial treatment he deserves. and for many it Will not make particularly pleasant reading. A fascinz-tting trawl through the life of a very flawed man. (Paul Dale)

SCIENCE; flC'llON JEFF NOON Falling Out of Cars (Doubleday 5312.99) 00.00



Jeff Noon has an unsurr)assable talent for creating worlds botri recognisable and utteriy removed from our own. In this novel. ]()tll'll£tIlSl Marlene Moore is engaged on an assignment to find a cure for the strange disease that is sweeping the land. IlllS disease alters people's sense of reality and perception to a debilitating extent. Ihe only way they can still