{-U‘Jl l U41? KYM LLOYD Erskine‘s Box iSIMWeS ‘-i COO

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Gradually. eoyly. Erskine divulges his; former ‘II‘Q'S details. touching on the mysterious disappearance of paramour Leodora and the savage attack that left him With a stump between his legs. Erskine's personal demons start bubbling forth when Boxwood becomes infiltrated by Ulva. a radiant care worker With a sinistei agenda of her own.

You have to wait too long for the various; revelations. by which time the hues and stinks of Erskine's tale Will have yeti feeling gueasy. Still, this; novel's; Singular weirdness entertains and holds; the imaQination long enough to make points about performance and illuSion, gender and sexuality. lAllan Radcliffe)



(Canongate €9.99) 0”

DaVid Henry Sterry's autobiographical aCCOunt of a 70s suburban yetith

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Stern, 's; €lil0"l!()". to a" unfainjia" mien Is t)(?ll(?l()1.f3£t"(l “s; unadulterated narmtme refreshing. His; <:liaiactei'isation. though. is; undernexe oped; l‘e purges; the ta e with an imposing oiend of chagrin ar‘d bravado. bit his candoui and lack of senII'nent is lainng in parts. He frequentiy seems detacl‘ed ‘roin 'tis; to'rne' lte, as; if he's recalling soi'ieone (Eise's; experiences.

\"l./l‘ill(3. at times Chicken seems; iireyecabn placed between confession and analysis. this is (i()l()\lrllll and entertaining fodder nonetheless. Just don't expect it to change your life. Anna Millaii


(Faber ($10.98), 0..

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The Distant Echo

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The Final Confession of Mabel Stark

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You just couldn’t make this up. Only that's exactly what Robert Hough has done. In The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, this acclaimed Canadian author has taken the life and career of a very real person and seamlessly woven a quite superb and utterly enthralling fictional work around it.

Stark was the most famous tiger trainer in the world during the 19208, the undoubted highlight of the Ringling brothers’ circus which travelled the length and breadth of the US back in the days when this was the biggest kind of entertainment in town. From the bare bones of Stark’s life (which may well be fleshed out by Kate Winslet in the forthcoming movie), she reads almost like a John Irving character, making it easy to see why Hough was so attracted to his subject. Spells as a nurse, an inmate in a mental institution and a topless dancer all featured early on until she heard the call


of the circus, and specifically the tigers.

As the first-ever female tiger-trainer, Stark pushed the boundaries, even wrestling one of the beasts during her act. Throw in a handful of despicable husbands and an array of terrifying maulings. and you’ve got one hell of a story. And it’s a tale that Hough handles beautifully. Spanning 60 years, it’s as much a story of a changing America as it is about Stark's often sad and lonely life. Throughout, Hough paints a brave and beautiful portrait of an extraordinary woman with sympathy and a love that is evident on every page. (Doug Johnstone)

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JOHN HEGLEY The. Sound of Paint

,. ‘1‘“: W5 ,0 .0”... two's " ter'm ’i. A'. '."<‘ '. "‘V'. V‘s" "\l' 51’... :w‘tsl ‘.";tt tilszcwxlre l 'w :\ \‘t new s;t.s;i‘e"fe.t \t We "f"'7‘(" l‘Li'. "02“" :‘Hargietl. and the "er. investigation exposes: pleittt. of old ‘.'.’r‘,i."rts Bat McDer'nid i‘exe' really gets to grips the emotional and psycho’ogical depths of her protagon:sts. and a

The bespectacled hard of l uton toWn already has a battalion of loyal fans. whose ranks are unlikely to swell or shrink With the publication of this slim new collection. Indeed. the most devoted Will already have experienced the book's bittersweet central anecdote ~ concerning Hegley's attempt to recreate a French street scene painted by his father at last year's Fdinburgh Fringe show.

This selection of verse. crumbs of prose and one bi7arrely amuSing short story entitled 'The Total Hotel Experience. Scotland' is the usual Hegley medley of self-effacing nonsense. pathos and tragedy all transmitted Via clever puns. tenuous couplets and disarming resolutions. And it's heartening to see Hegley nick the shortest poem honOtir from Gyles Brandretn for his ‘Ouick Potato Poem‘ (“The spud sped?)

Those seeking a quick, light read will not be disappointed. but Such a hotchpotch of predictable fragments does leave you With a niggling longing fer Hegley to produce SOmething a bit different.

(Allan Radcliffe:


Easy, tiger

24 ADV—9 Uta, ’1 ml LI‘T 103