Wild Boy

(Sceptre £14.99)

Basing a novel on real historical events is more and more popular these days. With inevitably variable re5ults. Here. Jill Dawson creates a stirring evocation of post-revolutionary France in dealing With the tale of a boy found living wild in the woods of Aveyron. and his subsequent treatment by the ParISian society of the time. The boy was looked after by esteemed physicran. Dr ltard and a robust governess, Madame Guerin, and the narrative of Wild Boy SWitches effectively between the two characters as Dawson gradually builds up a comprehensive picture of life at the time.

While the frustrating advancements of the bOy. Victor. make for a decent story. Dawson is clearly trying to draw universal conclusions about human nature and mental disability. something she is less successful at. DeSpite a Slightly muddled philosophy. Wild BOy is a tender and thought- provoking rendering of an intriguing real life tale. (Doug Johnstone)


(Jonathan Cape C10)

Chuck P-alahniu‘k should have been a free

runner. But instead of leaping across buildings he deeded to write books about Jumping over the walls of the prisons we have built around Ourselves. Fight Club, aniSible Monsters and Choke are all nihilistic. anarchistic warbles that question the futility of our fortressed lives. Happily, Diary is more of the same.

The diary in question belongs to Misty Wilmott. She has been keeping it Since her SLiiCidal husband Peter went into in a coma while IiVing on Waytansea Island, a tourist-blighted fun park. Peter was a builder who liked to scrawl Vile messages under the wallpaper of hidden rooms in the houses he refurbished. Diary is strange. diseased Stuff. but that's Palahniuk's bag. For a change though. he stirs humanity and trickery into his imaginative conceit and leaves the reader With a surreal, disarming tale of partisan history and extraordinary madness. (Paul Dale)


Now We are Sixty (And a Bit)

(John Murray €8.99) “0

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Considering The List is aimed at a somewhat lower age bracket than this book's intended audience. these two publications may not quite be a meeting of minds. But With Christmas vaguely looming. it might be one to bear in mind for a portly old uncle or some other such awkward relative. COSy and twee and so unapologetically English. Christopher Matthew's mildly amusing romp through the perils of our (g)olden years is illustrated by

104 THE LIST 18 Sep—2 Oct 2003

Davrd Eccles With equal glee.

Reassuring in the way that The Archers is. Now We are Sixty iAnd a Bit) Will be gratefully received and gently guffawed over for a while before being dribbled on as the reCipient dozes off after quaffing too much port. It may well end up by the t0ilet for dipping into while the owner is still in control of his faCLilties. But that may be harsh: it's inoffenswe and well- produced and who am I to Judge With Such arrogance of youth? (Ruth Hedges)

WEB DIARY SALAM PAX The Baghdad Blog (Atlantic £7.99) .00

Described as a modern day Anne Frank and a let century Elvis. Salam Pax is something of a mystery man. The web entries he made on a daily baSis during the run-up to the second Gulf War and its eventual hellfire and brimstone reality led some to believe that this so-called Iraqi citizen was nothing more than a CIA stooge. His anti- Saddam utterances would suggest as much. Yet. he's no friend of the coalition forces either. seeing as many holes in the Bush/Blair spin as he does in the Ba'athist party propaganda. Whoever Rex is. his repOrtage from way beyond the frontline is full of passionate pleas and satirical whimsy. But it's the host of western Cultural references that make this an easier read than it may othen/vise have been. There can't be too many Iraqis who seem more concerned With the last Massive Attack album than their own c0untry's mass deschnon. (Brian Donaldson)


DICKS AND DEEDEES: LOVE AND ROCKETS Jaime Hernandez (FantagraphiCSI 0000

Regarded by many as a comerstone of modern underground comics. this eternally unravelling narrative of young Mexican. American malcontents still retains weight and teeth after a beefy 20 volumes. Surreal. frightening, hilarious and even uncomfortany misogynistic at times. Hernandez' stark monochromatics are beautiful in their filmic SimpliCIty. It's ironic. perhaps. that they set out to explore such grey areas of day-to-day life. something Hernandez does With deadpan humour and a Cruel IWist that mirrors reality all too aCCurater.

This is a compilation of mainly shon stories. and is as acceSSible an entry mm as any. Stories are told and retold from different angles to give an even broader perspective of the sprawling L8H universe. Odd. but oddly compulSive.

(Mark Robertson)



(Kingly Books) 0...

Everyday life getting you down? It could be worse.

You c0uld be the inspiration for one of John Bagnall's comics. This

first major collection from

the "Brian Wilson of coniics' is a darkly funn-V read including compelling epics and Witty short excerpts; about everyth ng from a food colour chemist turned religious nut to Daxid BOWie's Berlin diary and on to sadistic nuns and a Grateful Dead-oning new age teacher.

Bagnall experiments With different draWing techniques and layout throughout. making this a punchy. fast-mowng anthology filled With oddball characters. bittersweet tales and bizarre events in black and white. A glorioust Witty reflection of all that is sad and surreal about eXistence. (Camilla Piai

AN THOLOGY PORTAJOHNNY Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphicsi 0000

Johnny Ryan's collection from the early years of his Angry Youth Com/x is nothing less than a filthy. gLiilty pleaSure. Ryan first released his dysfunctional VISions of Sinus O'Gynus and Loady McGee upon an unsuspecting public back in the mid-905. His comix were self-published

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galv‘tl’iiit‘ .\.. ‘-\.§ ; RIPPLE: A PREDILECTION FOR TINA

Dave Cooper iFantagiaphitisi o”.

Bearded. chain-smoking and liying in squalor, Martin DeSeires. a Ioiiei,’ illustrator of children's books. has got the iove blues and he's got them bad. The reason, we learn. is Tina. a hideous she-beast he met three years earlier in the course of executing his delusory erotic art proiect “Ripple: The Fleshy World'.

In this short and sexually graphic novel, artist and writer Dave Cooper cuts to the core of a pathetic affair. based on false aSSumptions and the vanity of a middle-aged man. Introduced by director DaVid Cronenberg. who has also lost his heart to Tina's coarse phySicality. this book burns With bIaZIng paSSion. honesty and a sense of ultimate fUTIIIty’. (Catherine Bromleyi

Dave Cooper's Ripple cuts to the core