FICTIONAL MONOLOGUE WILL A
(Atlantic $9.99) 0000
Born in 1922. William Gaddis wrote five novels in his 76 years on this earth. His final effort. Agape Agape. was completed in a haze of illness and is nothing less than the pile-driving monologue of an old man on his deathbed. He spits in the face of aSSumed human progression. his belief in the total deterioration of civilisation couched in the esoteric and the erudite.
This is certainly not an easy read. as Gaddis writes dense squirming prose With little regard for the unlearned that bears little resemblance to any other writer (except maybe in the lighter moments of Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Franzen — the latter a dedicated fan apparently).
All the same it is acerbic. brilliant stuff that even refuses to play by the decent rules of English grammar. If you love great American fiction this. and the fonhcoming other Gaddis re-releases. are a must. (Paul Dale)
PHOTOGRAPHY JAMES INNES- SMITH 8- HENRIETTA WEBB
Bad Hair (Bloomsbury $7.99) .0.
It's yOur Crowning glory. your mop. tress or mane. If yOu wear a piece it's your syrup. extermon or rug. The days of barbershops
displaying yellowing pictures of boys and girls with bouffants to die for have well gone. so now we can all laugh at the hairdos of yesteryear.
This fine little book doesn't pretend to be anything but a filthy trawl through the backpages of old hairdresser trade mags. There is no worthy text. Just gory shots of mullets. cross hatch plaits. MN and side partings. The only trouble is that if you believe that all things hirsute are items of rare beauty then this is really not that shocking.
The laughter stops shortly after the first flick through these hallowed pages and then you start to admire the geometric preCIsion of those bottom heavy manes. Before you know it you're sitting in a hairdressers clutching this gem. begging fora replica. (Paul Dale)
MARY TAYLOR SIMETTI
On Persephone’s Island
(Bantam $27.99) 0.00
, .. 34.9.- The beautiful Island of Sicily: olive groves. shoe boxes stuffed with drugs. roadside bombs that welcome reforming dignitaries. sharp blazers and yellow tailored shirts open to the navel. fat Mafiosi fingers twiddling With a gold St Christopher while the theme from The Godfather plays in the background.
Mary Taylor Simetti's aim is to shoot holes in those stereotypes. so her beloved adopted country is one of fine food. strident agriculture and a phenomenal sense of a history that has surVived the successive conquests cf Greek. Arab. Norman and Spanish empire builders.
An elegant. skilful writer with a gift for both the picaresque and gentle humour. she comes on like Gerald Durrell without all the animals and the rabid need to be liked. The book is structured around the island's three seasons. and throws the gauche young Simetti through a cultural thorn bush and out into a clearing of personal and familial integration. This is a charming, quietly addictive read.
ELSPETH WILLS Scottish Firsts (Mainstream $7.99) 0..
III-pa III \I I”-
Throughout Scottish history. we’ve been a people mad keen on Digging ourselves up. You know the sort of thing: we invented America. football. breathing etc. Well actually, we invented none of those. but a hell of a lot of other stuff was ours. and this meticuloust researched book attempts to detail Scots' contributions to every facet of modern life.
And in general it does pretty well, although Wills' style is slightly dry and occasmnally sycophantic. Inevitany there are areas that indiVidual readers Will find more or less interesting depending on their bent, but the breadth of coverage is impressive.
For every Adam Smith or Dawd Hume there's the development of keyhole surgery. the gas mask or logarithms. For every Alexander Graham Bell or John Logie Baird there's the tallest hedge in the world or the first printed appearance of the word 'fuck'. Something to be immensely proud of. surely.
Waterstone's Scottish Book of the Month
‘An original debut novel from one of Scotland's most exciting new
Ben Hard. Waterstono's Regional Marketing Co-ordinator
. Buddha Da
by Anne Donovan
who will be reading from and signing copies of Buddha Da
at Waterstone's Edinburgh West End on Wednesday 22"d January, 6pm
and The Arches, Glasgow on Thursday 30th January, 6pm
Tickets available free from Waterstone's Edinburgh West End, The Arches and Waterstone's Glasgow Argyle Street.
The last word in books
This offer is SUbJOCl to availability in partiCipating branches Offer ends 31.01.03.
2—16 Jan 2003 THE LIST 81