SOCIAL DRAMA PAUL REED The One (Crescent £9.99) .0.

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A black comedy following the inner workings of an Edinburgh schizophrenics chaotic mind doesn't exactly sound like a riveting page-turner. But with Paul Reed's debut already charming the pants off fellow Scots scribes such as Irvine Welsh and Ouintin Jardine. and advance



The Boy

notice showing SUCh words as ‘incendiary'. ‘breathtaking' and ‘intoxicating' being bandied about with gay abandon, you have to give it a wee look. Reed's afflicted protagonist is Jools. who awakes from an abortive overdose to the abusive screaming of a disembodied voice located somewhere inside his head. This single voice gives way to increasingly weirder others which. conspiring with such luminaries as Anastacia. Jimmy Savile and Vanessa Mae brought to life from inside the television. command Jools to leave his home in Muirhouse and wander around the streets of Edinburgh on a mission to rid the city of the sinister Mackenzie mob. Jools' tormented behaviour eventually leads to his being incarcerated in a

(Thames & Hudson €29.95) 0...

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pSychiatric hospital where he must resist the temptation to have a thought wave for 24 hours in order to achieve the status of 'The One'.

To some extent. Jools‘ schi7ophrenia. the cacophony raging within his head. is merely Reed '3 excuse to create a kind of futuristic ‘play for voices' peepled by an array of bizarre characters existing within an incredibly cemplex pecking order. This by itself is involving enough, if occasionally dizzying in its messy intricacy. But. as the novel progresses. there are fewer and fewer reminders that the tale at heart is a personal human tragedy. thus rendering the central premise somewhat unnecessary. Ultimately. though. Reed's ability to minutely, lyrically convey the horrors of personal torment make this a powerful. frightening debut by any standards. (Allan Radcliffe)

Let’s get the knee-jerk criticisms out of the way first. Can you imagine an ageing, high profile male critic producing a coffee table tome whose direct purpose would be to ‘reclaim for men the right to appreciate the beauty of girls’. Which, shifting a pair of generic terms, is precisely what Germaine

Greer is up to here. The outrage would be electric.

Then there is the matter of the author herself. Anyone who has studied Greer over the years on arts shows would balk at the idea of spending so much cash being bamboozled by someone whose intellect is the size and consistency of Ayers Rock; the abundance of raw knowledge allied to frenetic research is enough to give the reader a migraine. But GG is canny enough to temper the namedropping of iconic and obscure mythologies (whether Greek, Roman or biblical) by chucking in references to pop culture with the likes of Cobain, Presley, and the two Jimmys, Dean and Morrison (all nice dead white men whose boyishness is indelibly printed in the collective western psyche).

Whatever your prejudices against the academic, she knows how to put together a beautiful book and a fascinating argument. The central point may merely be another ‘male in crisis’ diatribe, but if it’s dressed up by glorious images from the history of art (she seems especially obsessed with the arrow-strewn Saint Sebastian) and anthropological studies from around the world (check out the Wodaabe men of Niger), it makes the good doctor’s medicine far easier to swallow. (Brian Donaldson)

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(Andrews McMeel E l ()0) OOO

According to Gary Larson, you are what you draw. If that's the case. Mr Larson is a anthropomorphic surrealist with a desire to be a flea or a dinosaur or a caveman or a clown. The creator of the perfect ‘funny' greetings card. Gary Larson has always ensured success for The Far Side by making his drawings utterly timeless (aside from the Salman Rushdie reference). Most of these Jokes could have been sketched any time between the 50s and 90s.

The key to enjoying this collection (other than having more spare cash than Roman Abramovichl is that the earlier you get ‘the joke. the longer you will be laughing. I know people who have stood round those revolving card carousels paralysed with mirth. Yet others will stare without emotion. no matter how hard Gary tries with his Olympic swimming dogs. worried dolphin parents and a yOung god trying to make a chicken. For aegiiired. expensive tastes only. (Brian Donaldson)


The Book of my Enemy (Picador 5715.99) .0.

Frankly. Mr Clive James. I didn't know you wrote poetry. The titular work in which the Aussie polymath gloats long and loud about the remaindering of a rival's dreary writing sets the tone for a 45-year verse sideline retrospective that casts some unanticipated rhyming c0up|ets over a huge

array of subjects. The early verse is surprisingly short and sentimental, but this soon gives way to James' wry observations on the political scene in his adopted Britain. His early 80s 'Address to the Nation' makes some particularly salient points about the disastrous Foot-era Labour movement. pointing out the obvious comparisons to the later fate of today's Tories.


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As befits a writer fascinated with the trappings of celebrity. there are also tributes to such aesthetic icons as Larkin. Auden and Stoppard. The whole package gets a mite smug at times. and James is not nearly as funny as he thinks he is. but it's far from being bloody awful. (Allan Radcliffe)


Inspector Espinosa of Rio's First Precinct is the most frustratingly fallible fictional detective around. For a cop With over 15 years' experience under his belt. Espinosa makes some unforgivable errors of Judgement. mostly by thinking With his dick instead of thinking like one. In this. the second of a trilogy. Espinosa is called in to

investigate a prostitut(~3's murder. but ends up with a series of corpses on his hands.

Most of these sul.)seguent deaths are a direct result of Espinosa's flawed methodology and disregard for the rules taught in Detecting 101. such as ‘don't sleep with one of your prime suspects' and ‘pay more attention to your main \NIIIIOSS than the pretty lady standing next to him'. But despite Espinosa's all too human failings. December Heat is a fascinating read. Garcia- Roxa brings the oppressive and atmospheric streets of Rio to life with an almost poetic narratwe. and it's this that makes the novel \.vortliv~/liile.

(Kirst Knaggs)

SHORT DRAMAS DORIS LESSING The Grandmothers (Flamingo $715.99) 0...



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This quartet of long short stories is another exemplary display of a (la/xling literary talent that seems to get stronger With every passing year. However they are billed. the tales are beautiful. moving. funny and tragic. each one managing to capture intertwnied lives With cinematic vision. while also attending exquisitely to the minutiae of everyday existence. The title story is probably the best of a great bunch. dealing Willi the intricacies of a highly unusual extended family. Elsewhere we get a deeply moVing examination of racial differences (‘Victoria and the Staveneys'). a wonderfully odd sci-fi reminisce (' The Reason for lt'l and a gruesome and painful wartime love story ('A I ove Child'). 'I’hroughout it all. Lessing's command