HISTORICAL DRAMA DAV") MITCHELL Cloud Atlas (Sceptre £16.99) 0...
David Mitchell’s third novel is nothing less than a multifaceted epic but one so beautifully crafted that it never strays from the central dilemma nor leaves any strand adrift. Beginning with an 18508 traveller. the narrative moves thrOugh the various lives of an oppOrtunistic composer scraping a living in 1930s Belgium. a sharp-nosed jOurnaIist unearthing political scandal in California and a London publisher trying to escape a thuggish gang. It then moves on to a future of genetically enhanced corporate servants and a Pacific Islander caught up in global devastation.
Each world is carefully constructed and linked to the previous in a number of ingenious ways. so that together the stories form a delicate whole. This overlapping structure gives the reader a sense of how easily one way of life slips into another. how belief systems rise suddenly frcm chance events then disappear as readily. and ultimately. how 'the human hunger which gave birth to civilisation might also destrOy it'. (Rachael Street)
RELATIONSHIP MANUAL SASHA CAGEN Quirkyalone (HarperCollins $312.99) 0..
Forget The Ru/es and those unlocked secrets
for capturing Mr Right: it's time for the Manifesto for Uncomprem/sing Romantics. If you would rather be single than settled. believe in true love but don't need it. and value friendship as much as relationships. then according to Sasha Cagen. you are a ‘quirkyalone'. Spawned from her website. the book contains suggested events like International Quirkyalone day (just happens to be 14 February). tips for when you feel lonely (watch crap dating shows and feel superior) and case studies of other quirkyalones. You don't even have to be single or celibate; you can be a quirkytogether or even a quirkyslut. While this book is a one-trick pony and heavy on self- advertisement. it is comforting in a Cosmo world to read about others not searching for and desperately trying to keep Mr Right. It's ideal if only to reassure yourself that you won't be alone with your cats in the end. (Anna Shipman)
COLONIAL DRAMA SIDDHARTH DHANVANT SHANGHVI
The Last Song of Dusk (Weidenfeld & Nicolson £12.99) 000
A promising debut novel. The Last Song of Dusk is a vivid picture of love and loss in colonial India. awash with pathos yet over-burdened with portent. Few moments of joy escape unqualified from the loose-tipped narration. diluting its many passages of passion. heightened realism and magical mischief several chapters before they actually unfold.
The story of Anuradha. a beauty with divine voice. grace and a perfect marriage to the
handsome Vardhmaan. involves a tragedy which relocates them and her Spirited cousin Nandini (a gifted artist and heartbreaker with a penchant for panthers) to a possessed. vengeful house where an intense love affair died years before. Sorrow and silence predominate until Nandini's emergence into Bombay society takes centre stage. her spellbinding sensuality and precocin conjuring storms that. sadly, are not sustained. Everything withers. shrivels or departs in often gorgeous lyricism. characters chewed slowly and spat out in a manner less profound than numbing.
SPORT HISTORY HOWARD SOUNES
The Wicked Game (Sidgwick & Jackson $318.99) 0.0
Golf: a wickedly tricky and frustrating game whose proponents look pained far more than they seem delighted. Occasional golfer and regular biographer (he’s written on Dylan and Bukowski) Howard Sounes has an eye on a different kind of bad behaviour here. His account stretches from the 19503 to the present day. detailing the prejudice and aggressive commercialism that have made golf the game it is today and analysing the sport's great trinity: Arnold Palmer. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Much of this is pretty obvious: we learn that Woods is a driven. rather dull individual who loves his sport. quite likes money and hates the press. There are a few real gems though. whether it's Nixon asking for Palmer's advice on Vietnam and being told to ‘go for the green' or Tiger's father Earl being
hauled up again and again by Sounes for fictionalising his life story. When he's not digging, Sounes is less engaging but. ironically, what carries this study through is his own enthusiasm for a sport that captivates despite its flaws. (James Smart)
CRIME DRAMA ROLO DIEZ Tequila Blue
(Bitter Lemon £8.99) .0.
The book cover claims “it's not easy being a cop in Mexico City' which succinctly sums up the 168 pages contained within. Rolo Diez is an
SOCIAL DRAMA HELEN WALSH
(Canongate £9.99) 0...
acclaimed Argentinean crime writer based in Mexico and has been at this game for 20 years. but this is his first book published in English. Tequila Blue (just me. or is that a dreadful title?) is a brutal and cynical
romp through a world of corruption, sleaze. gun- running. prostitution. racketeering. hardcore porn. violence and murder. And that's just the cops. Boom boom. The narrator is Carlos Hernandez. a detective with a wife and kids. a mistress and kids. a prostitution ring to run. illegal stuff to sell and. oh yeah. a case to solve. So it's beer and tacos for breakfast and shoot- outs by lunchtime in what is often a dizzying read. and one that is at times hilarious and at other times pointlesst offensive. Rebus it ain't. (Doug Johnstone)
She swears it well
Helen Walsh risks establishing herself as the Elizabeth Wurtzel of her generation; all pop gloss and dubious substance. As Liverpool’s newest literary marvel, she’s spread her pretty face all over the media from the highbrow pages of the Observer and Vogue to rock mag Kerrang! and, most bizarrely, in a semi-clad photo shoot in Arena. To Walsh’s credit (unlike the aforementioned Wurtzel) Brass, her clearly cathartic debut, resists the self-indulgence so apparent in the work of her contemporaries.
Inspired by Walsh’s own experiences as a fixer in a red light district, Brass tells the story of 19-year-old Millie. Living with her professor father and seemingly abandoned by her mother, she finds sanctuary in Liverpool’s seedy underbelly of sex and drugs. Brass subtly hints at the talent of cultural observers and literary geniuses like Irvine Welsh and James Kelman while Walsh skillfully kneads our expectations and resists tokenism. Brazen use of sexual swearwords your parents wouldn’t like are not used here to shock but rather to indicate Millie’s growing isolation and her need to identify and become someone other than herself.
Walsh’s characters, however grotesque, are fascinating. Millie paying for sex with an older female prostitute (the passage in which she and the woman use a beer bottle on each other, manages to be both tender and brutal) contextualises disturbingly her grief and her confounded need to, and for, love. Honest and raw, the only disappointment is Walsh’s strangely
misplaced, overly sentimental ending. (Anna Millar)
l 4:") Apr 2004 THE LIST 105