Dirty Blonde (Picador) 000
When documentary-maker Jacques Peretti began a project about the final days of Kurt Cobain, his approach to Courtney Love was met with a firm rejection: ‘I don’t want to do the rock widow thang anymore.’ But, like or not, and as Dirty Blonde readily acknowledges, this is her destiny. No matter how many times Love reinvents herself from scuzzy guitar queen to haute couture madame, or from Earth Mother to bitch on heat, she will forever be known as the woman who somehow carried on after her husband blew his brains out in April 1994. That she had to overcome the further trauma of her bass player dying from an overdose three months later would be enough to tip anyone over the edge. Getting that stuff down on paper is one thing, but to make it coherent is another mission altogether. As this rigidly apologetic collection shows (not only her own introduction but Carrie Fisher’s preface and the afterword from feminist critics Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards go to great pains to explain why it’s Love’s damn right to air her private scribblings), making sense of a complex world is no walk in the park. Not enough of the book is even readable and staring at her rambling doodles induces a migraine about as welcome as a headful of Hole. The pictures, though, tell a story all of their own, about the lonely neglected child and confused teenager, on to her brief period as a nuclear unit mum and beyond, into the Versace years. The cover image, of a possibly unconscious Ophelia, tragically, effortlessly, says it all.
SUPERNATURAL IALE ANGUS DUNN Writing in the Sand (Luath) O...
The image of the sleepy insular community rocked by some sinister supernatural force has been a cultural staple. from Daphne Du Maurier's The Birds through to the Surreal chills of Twin Peaks. In his debut novel. erstwhile joiner Angus Dunn provides a startling. Highland twist On this familiar sub- genre. The fictional fishing village of Cromness provides the backdrop to shape- shifting locals. houses which double as the portal to some parallel universe and the beach where village eccentric Jimmy Bervie looks for sandy patterns to divine the future.
Dunn's novel began life
as a series of instalments on the
internet. but the episodic
nature of his tale neither inhibits its swift pacing. nor detracts from the
fact that this is a bold. confident debut. packed to the gunnels with memorable characters and wry humour. The other great star of the novel. however, is the setting. Dunn bringing the Black Isle to vivid. dramatic life.
RURAL DRAMA PATRICK MCCABE
Winterwood (Bloomsbury) I...
Award-winning novelist Patrick McCabe is known for his darkly violent books which mine the disturbing underbelly of rural Ireland. a setting he knows well from his own upbringing. Winterwood is no exception. telling the story of Redmond Hatch who befriends grizzled old-timer Ned Strange when he returns to the backwater valley he was raised in. Their relationship has unforeseen repercussions for Hatch as his life falls apart and
Patrick Mr.(‘.:ihr~ ‘. . '
he struggles to keep a grip on reality. Winlen/vood starts off almost jauntily. as Hatch recounts his successful life and loving family. but quickly descends into a nightmare where reality and morbid fantasy blur. McCabe handles the pace of his narrator's decline beautifully. and eschews cheap thrills in favour of subtle hints. creating excruciating tension in the process. As the novel reaches a horrific denouement the reader is drawn inexorably into the terrible proceedings in a tale which is expertly- written but decidedly harrowing. (Doug Johnstone)
COMIC TRAVELOGUE TIM MOORE Nul Points (Jonathan Cape) 0...
Tim Moore usurped Bill Bryson‘s humorous travel writing crown by putting himself through dreadful physical hardship — cycling the route of the Tour de France. dragging a braying donkey along the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela, and then documenting it in a hilariously self- deprecatory manner. Masochistic Moore's new book. in which he tracks down those Eurovision contestants who scored no points. is less a travel treatise and
more of an expose of that ineluctably naff yet inexplicably popular song contest.
But while the physical hardships of French Revolutions and Spanish Steps have fallen by the wayside. the traumatising encounters with the variously emotionally scarred nul pointers Moore subjects himself to. suggest his latest book represents his most arduous trip yet. All of which would constitute just so much tabloid-style muckraking if it weren't for this eccentric Englishman's apparently genuine wish to redeem these lost souls. Which he does with his customary amusing and informed banter. (Miles Fielder)
COMIC MANUAL JULIA ROTHENSTEIN 8- MEL GOODING Dr Clock’s Handbook (Redstone) 0000
It's a novel idea this. a mis-guide book. And if there's anyone more
suitably equipped to publish a tome on the magic and sparkle of the abswd. it's Redstone. the company that unleashes David Shrigley's books on us at irregular intervals. Needless to say Shrigley is a contributor here: JG Ballard. Flann O'Brien. Franz Kafka. Ed Ruscha. Glen Baxter. Damien Hirst. Cornelia Parker and Maurizio Cattelan all help gild this most peculiar of lilies.
' llr. Clock’s w
g,» H A N h a U n K
Whether it's with found photos. contrary art. spoof graphics. bizarre objects. evocative if odd poetry. purple prose or fictitious indices. each tries to explore, illustrate or just celebrate the power and glory of the ab8urd through the ages. Consciously rebelling against accepted order of any kind — with travel, telling the time or horticulture for three — seems like a great thing to indulge in.
. And the bonus Shrigley
year-planner means you can do it all year if you please. (Mark Robertson)
Griff Rhys Jones Semi-Detached The comic recalls his suburban childhood in evocative. amusing detail. Michael Joseph.
Ralph Steadman The Joke '3 Over “Butch and Sundance on acid“ was how they described Steadman and Hunter S Thompson. Here, the one who didn't kill himself reflects on their riotous partnership. Heinemann.
Julie Goodyear Just Julie Bet Lynch was the archetypal brassy barmaid and now the lady behind the leopard prints tells all. Macmillan.
Jeremy Bowen War Stories A battler of another kind as the moustachioed war correspondent remembers his El Salvador and Iraq years. Simon 8 Schuster.
Shayne Ward My SfOry The former Arndale Centre worker entered the Guinness World Records for the most downloaded tune ever when he struck gold last Christmas. How the hell did he get the X—Factof? Orion.
16—30 Nov 2006 THE LIST 31