Books & Comics 1
SEX DRAMA DANNY KING The Pornographer’s Diary
(Serpent's Tail) co
I'm not especially knowledgeable about porn, but I've always assumed it is manufactured for men who think there is no more to sex than a Brazilian wax and a hard-on. A cliched view perhaps. but one Danny King's fictional expose of the girly porn mag industry disappointingly confirms.
It begins entertainineg enough with Our ‘hero' Godfrey's almost endearingly self- deprecating humour. Soon, however, so repetitive is the macho posturing that it reads like a novel-length issue of Loaded. until it is just one cliche after another: uniformly sex-mad models (at one point he is set upon by 12 such women); dialogue like pubescent chat; excruciating attempts to debunk feminism; endless nights spent wasted; all rounded off in a finale which transforms Godfrey from sexual ineptitude to super-stud. Maybe if I were closer to being a ladette I'd get it. but if I ever hear the phrase ‘take it up the arse' once again, I'll slap whoever utters it.
LITERARY ROMANCE VAL RIE MARTIN
Italian Fever (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 0..
lta/I'an Fever was written before Valerie Martin's Orange Prize-winning novel. Property. and is no doubt seeing the light of day for the first time in this c0untry on the back of that novel's success. Sadly though, it is a disappointingly
50 THE LIST 5-‘12 Aug 200/.
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slight and somewhat whimsical affair. The story follows Lucy Stark who works as assistant to a best-selling but hackneyed novelist. and her journey to a villa in Italy to settle affairs after his untimely death. While this story drifts along at a reasonable enough pace. there is precious little to cling onto in terms of plot except for a steamy affair with an implausibly heroic Italian stallion and a slight (very slight) air of mystery about the author's death. Martin's Italy is described alluringly. yet fails to get to the heart of the matter. something which applies to the novel as a whole. (Doug Johnstone)
HISTORICAL DRAMA DAVID BADDIEL The Secret Purposes (Little. Brown) .000
Readers who only know David Baddiel for his on screen comedy persona will be in for a shock if they pick up this book. The Secret Purposes is his third novel and is a dense. poignant and skilled literary story. one which drips With the bittersweet nature of life. Inspired by the experiences of the author's grandfather. the stOry is set during World War II and concerns Isaac and Lqu Fabian, German Jews living in England having fled Nazi persecution at home.
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE
Oblivion: Stories (Abacus) 0...
Nothingness. Void. These are two words to describe the state that David Foster Wallace’s title represents. It’s the core emptiness around which the stories orbit. Or maybe orbit’s too celestial and ordered a word because madness and terror at the vacuous, alienated self fire these tales along under a sheen of American
The first one very nearly made me want to give up. Not because it’s so sad (though it is that), but because the language of the world which Terry Schmidt, Focus Group leader for Mister Squishy and their new product Felonies! inhabits, is so relentlessly jargonistic. Designed to alienate, confound and confuse, it succeeds; the systems spun into a cynical, suffocating web are relieved for believer Schmidt only at night when he ‘masturbates himself to sleep’ dreaming of co-
worker Darlene Lilley.
It’s tough going, but you should persevere because there’s an electric call to arms for a better way of living amid all this desperate ‘ballet of fraudulence’ in ‘Good Old Neon’. Hurling towards suicide in this story, the notion that your life flashes before you in the split second before death provides Wallace with the chance to explore the notion of time. ‘The reality is that dying isn’t bad but it takes forever. And forever is no time at all. I know that sounds like wordplay. What it really is, it turns out, is a matter of perspective.’ It’s lucky Wallace is so smart because his games are full of dizzying purpose
and intent. (Ruth Hedges)
When Isaac is interned on the Isle of Man along with thousands of his countrymen. Lqu sets about petitioning for his release. and the resultant strain on their lives takes its toll in unforeseen ways. Baddiel creates a detailed, believable world with only a twist of wry humour to reflect his comic status. and some beautifully well- rounded characters full of complexny and contradiction. A surprising joy of a book. (Doug Johnstone)
SOCIAL DRAMA STEPHEN NAJDA Rock Rock (Blackie) .0.
Those degenerate arch hedonists the Cramps once called it ‘some new kind of kick' ~ that eternal search for a new adrenaline high. Fast
motorbikes. loud music and big mountains are the person for Rock Rock's quartet of malcontent punk-era teens as they grow up on the AA-roads. rockfaces and dancefloors of the Scottish wilderness. For 'life' choices. there was also the perennial fourth option of course; but the story goes that when their school pal Jacko took a final suicidal leap into the vord. it was in a narcotic ham and he had a smile
on his face as he went. Set against a painfully vivid and familiar backdrop of lashing Scottish rain and snow. Stephen NaJda tells this semiautobiographical tale in blunt but passionate terms. showing how problematic it is to sustain any high and why the trick is learning when to stop. (Mark Robertson)
MATT WAGNER Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman: Trinity
In this inagisterial looking hardcover. Matt Wagner (Grendel. Mage) offers an enjoyany nuanced. classical take on the inaugural meeting/adventure between DC's signature superheroes. Anchored on the trio's battles With their ‘dark' counterparts (Bat-Villain Ra's Al Ghul. imperfect Superman clone Bi/arro. and a rogue Ania/on). Wagner prowdes a keen balance of drama. action and light comedy. including entertaining personality ties with our heroes being notably less grim and more gung-ho. Within the framework of this immaculately coloured and pencilled tale. Wagner works through the mythic internalised mutual appreciation that these American icons hold for one another (Wonder Woman: ‘I thrill at the very sight of him.' Superman: ‘L0is. you're the most compelling woman I've ever met. But this . . . is the most magnificent.) But a real disappomtment comes in a sequence where Superman averts a S) ‘I 1-ster scenario Wllil :swift ease. sadly underlining the fantastical over the sublime. (Danny Graydon)
ELECTRO POP HOBOKEN Crazy Glue (Royal Jelly) 00.
‘Don't you know what day today is’?' croons Jonathan Carr during ‘Pain is the Pleasure-'. ‘lt's anything can- happen day.’ It's certainly an anything- can-happen tit) n‘inules listening to this characterful and inventive record from Glasgow outfit Hoboken. Featuring co» songwriting from ex—
l ooper ll‘.(3ll’l)(?" Scott Tvl/ynholm. it meids Wildly diverse influences to overwlielmingly successful effect.
Much is made of Carr‘s Scott Walker 'nfluence ~ which is a bit of a stretch - but he still brings a certain austere dignity to tunes like ‘We May Be Cruel' and ‘No Means Maybe'. Othemise. it's a vaguely seedy (but III a good way) collection of tunes so steeped in the minimal-yet-finely» textured electronica of the 80s that Ya/oo should be feeling a t;f:)‘.'.‘ of fatherly pride.
ROCK MARK LANEGAN BAND
Bubblegum lBeggars Bangueti O...
This is Mark Lanegz‘ins unipteenth solo album. and also his nest. It's certainly his test ‘.ar'e;l. Lanegan's :in‘e wtl‘ OOTSA czear;y rubbing off, A massaxc- list :>‘ guests on. this record l()\’(?l'\'().'l(3 ‘ron: Posly Harvey to I//\' Stradii‘ and Duff McKagai‘i is testament to I anegan's influence on ltrs peers, and it's easy to see wt‘t. Hit the 3133' .s boisterous scu//-