SHORT STORIES KATE ATKINSON Not the End of the World (Doubleday €12.99) 0...



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This debut collection of shon stories from the hugely successful novelist is a slow burner of a read. but one that pays off in a more and more satisfying fashion the deeper you immerse yourself. The 12 stories here are immediately and easily readable yet contain subtlety and depth as they combine everyday life with wisps of fable and myth and more than a little of Kate Atkinson‘s trademark ultra-dry humour. What‘s more. all of the dozen stories are delicately intertwined. strangely echoing each other as characters.


scenes and themes criss-cross from story to stOry creating a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts. Add in the fact that Atkinson is also wonderfully adept at blending reality with fantasy in a kind of homespun magical realism and you've got a collection of tales as elegant as they are engaging and as intelligent as they are funny. (Doug Johnstone)


The Chap Almanac (4th Estate 212)


Where can one look for sound advice on life when we live in a

consumer society that celebrates questionable morals and even more questionable fashion?

There is a beacon of hope. a bible which if utilised correctly can keep a fella (and it is only the fellas) on the straight and narrow when it comes to everything from work and wisdom to whittling and wooing. The Chap Almanac is such a tome. Written from a mindset somewhere between Fagin. Johnny Vaughan. Dick Van Dyke and Terry- Thomas. the prevailing annudeisthat everything from technology to fashion should have halted in 1953.

The book is a month- by—month guide to picnic etiquette. how to correctly wear a trilby and which pipe to employ when enjOying strong hashish in the company of your Moroccan boy servant. It might just be one joke. but it's a good one. so persevere and you will be rewarded. (Mark Robertson)


HELON HABILA Waiting for an Angel (Hamish Hamilton 5:12.99) 0...

Helon Habila won the Caine Prize (Africa‘s equivalent of the Booker) for just the first section of this politicised debut. so yOu feel justified in expecting Waiting for an Ange/ to be pretty damn good. It doesn‘t disappoint.

The five-year rule of Nigerian general Sani Abacha. the man responsible for the death of writer and activist Ken Saro- Wiwa. provides the background and the bile for Habila‘s seven

interlinked narratives. Lomba is a journalist imprisoned for reporting a riot. Joshua is the teacher-cum- figurehead whose bold speech pre-empts it. and Kela is the boy who escapes retribution by hiding in a mango tree while tear gas and batons cripple his friends and neighbours.

His debut is a little uneven. but Habila writes with poise. compassion and tightly focused anger. and Waiting for an Angel powerfully captures the terrible choice of the oppressed: live in stubborn silence or protest and suffer the brutal consequences. (James Smart)

DRUG SATIRE BEN ELTON High Society (Bantam €16.99) .0

With his latest tirade cunningly disguised as a novel. Ben Elton aims to furnish us with the last word on the drug culture. its infiltration of society's every nook


and corner. and the potential repercussions of Iegalisation.

To this end. Elton's mouthpieces (sorry. characters) are an enlightened Labour backbencher in the process of introducing a bill to legalise all drugs who. for balance. is also luxuriating in an extra-marital affair with his perky assistant. There's also a hedonistic Robbie- esque pop star and a coked-up IT girl. Och. and just so we've covered the full rainbow of stereotypes. there's also a wee junkie prostitute called Jessie. fae Scotland. naturally.

Aside from the contrived plot and bombastic dialogue. Elton's idea of satire appears to be stating the bleeding obvious. So people of all ages. creeds. colours and hues take drugs do they? Gee. thanks Ben. ‘cos I thought it was just schemies from Edinburgh.

(Allan Radcliffe)

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