ELLIOT PERLMAN Seven Types of Ambiguity

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Australia's literary wunder'kind is back shoWing typical self- belief in producing a 6f)()<page take on just about anything you can think of. From the frailties of the human psyche through the state of modern health care and on into possible economic meltdown, Perlman has created a gripping tale of obsession. selfishness and downright egotistical madness. Centring around Simon, a man fixated With his ex- lover. Perlman brings into play Simon's current girlfriend a prostitute also used by the ex's husband and the psychiatrist who Simon is told to see after kidnapping the ex's son. a character used to bring a cohesion to the twisting plot.

The magic of the book is in the cliar‘acterisatioii. building each part through the eyes of a different person, enabling you to look on from above and understand each interaction and anticipate the reaction. Ambiguous it may be but it's definitely one of the most ambitious books of the year.

(Aly Burt)

LITERARY BIOGRAPHY PAUL MURRAY From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker

(Jonathan Cape)


Bram Stoker was educated at Trinity College Dublin. became a CIVII servant for 12 mars before a love of thespianism led him to

38 THE LIST int.) Aug 200-1

being (.potte’t ti, Herir‘, Irving and slitiseritx;rttl, becorrring rr‘anager of ton/lon'f, l,,r,eiirr‘ Theatre (illflfl’l Icing", il‘ffliét,’ lilffl‘: (it) 1,173, and he ‘.'.»rote [)rar,o/a. thus creating one of the most enduring characters of modern day horror; all that despite the fact that the book itself isn't actually, that good.

Apart from the last part. Stoker's doesn't seem that inspiring a life. and therein lies the problem; it wasn't. Not

to the extent that you would want to read a detailed account of it. anyway. Still, Paul Murray handles his subject well and With no little affection. There are

some amusing anecdotes and the variety of 19th century figures presented as inspiration behind Dracula are genuinely fascinating. Ultimately though, a literary one-hit wonder does not a good biography make and this is of interest to scholars only. (Gordon Eldrett)

AMERICAN SAT iRl. SHERI HOLMAN The Mammoth Cheese (Virago) O...

A cosy satire of small town America and its politics and media. Sheri Holman's latest offering is the beautifully crafted tale of a fickle backwoods community and its struggle to embrace the future

cii'u'cK RALARNIUK Non-Fiction

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Who’s the daddy?

Chuck Palahniuk says the difference between writing fact and writing fiction is that fiction separates you from people (the writer alone in his garret) whereas fact brings you together with people (interviewing for a magazine article, say). Palahniuk says that his factual writing (this book‘s journalism, essays and memoirs) provides material for his fiction. 80, there are true stories about people who make soap, splice pornography into Disney movie reels and jizz into soup in swanky restaurants; heavenly pursuits which made it into Fight Club.

Palahniuk points out (astutely) in his introduction that his novels are about lonely people looking for connection. In Palahniuk's case this stems from being let down by his estranged father, who was eventually murdered by the jealous ex of a girl he hardly knew. Palahniuk touches, tangentially but also candidly, on his dad in these pages. Fathers, you will note, are largely absent figures in his novels.

The best stuff here, however, isn’t personal to Palahniuk. Of far more interest is the journalism, inspired reportage on, variously, the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival (a fuck-fest in smalltown Montana), an annual demolition derby with combine harvesters in backwater Washington state, and men whose hobby is building medieval castles. Elsewhere, the writing is sloppy and unfocused, unlikely to make it pasta commissioning editor without the celeb name attached. An article about the actress Juliette Lewis is little more than an interview transcription, while ‘Brinksmanship‘ ends with: ‘l’m sorry if this all seems a little rushed and desperate. It is.’ I agree. (Miles Fielder)

Without abandoning its past. We are first

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story of a premature. multiple birth. From here. Holman uses a ‘.'.'I(i(? range of perfectly authentic characters to effortlessly lead the reader. engrt ssed and

utterly th)l‘.'.l')".i."(l side‘.'.*a‘,s f)i£ll‘f,é- a’. tne life so n‘a'i', learl ban“: the city. rMa'k l (irr‘.."trlsen

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history. the responsibdit‘. of adulthood. 'T‘t)”‘.iiil'.", and unrequited lope are

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among the themes of c." A- st fires: . ,"'-p- f' -4- '; x z, COHSICTC‘TBCT sc deft), t); rgeg; '3: ':e .w T"»’: . .r " e :. " Holman's stellar cast. as fa"°.as‘."' w: 82 ' ‘_' -; ':-',-::

their town prepares to

PETER O’DONNELL & JIM HOLDAWAY Modesty Blaise: The Gabriel Set-Up

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