FAMILY TALE ANNE BERRY The Hungry Ghosts (Blue Door) 000
.. ‘t " ‘ 1 '- ‘13".‘3. t. . - ”Y .A
Don't be fooled by the
between Lin Shui and Alice only vaguely conveyed and lacking a genuine Quality. Nevertheless. the
title: The Hungry Ghosts -
is more family drama than spooky story. Yet its epoch-hopping tale — in which brutally murdered Lin Shui hangs on to the scraps of life by latching her spectre onto Alice Safford. the misunderstood daughter Of a high- ranking British official in colonial Hong Kong — is told with striking narrative ingenuity by first-time novelist Anne Berry.
The vivid. sensory depictions of Hong Kong circa 1970 ignite this almost unrelentingly sad story. and Berry's easy way of switching between different narrative voices from chapter to chapter is impressive. But the book's downfall is ultimately caused by its two central characters with the dynamic
behaviour that characterises Alice's relationships with her mother and siblings propels the book bleakly fon~ard. Haunting stuff. though no thanks to its spectral protagonist.
EROTIC NOVELLA DENIS ROBERT Happiness
(Serpent's Tail) «0
Published in France around the same time as Catherine Millet's international hit, The Sexual Life of Catherine M, Denis Robert's Happiness has waited much longer to make it to the English language world. As a married writer starts an affair with a woman ten years his junior. their lives become almost
38 THE LIST 11—25 Jun 2009
insignificant next to the
constant sexual f shocks to the nervous
system. Written in a sparse matter of fact manner
1 with the girl's
observations on the left
3 hand side of the book and the man's on the
right. at the same time there are statements
i that have a page to themselves that strictly
speaking could belong to either of them as they dissolve into the
possibilities of the sex act. Robert's book is . aptly a brief. intense
- experience that can be
read in the time it takes
for an afternoon liaison. (Tony McKibbin)
SOCIAL DRAMA 'GEORGE
. The Way Home
Having long since established his credentials as a chronicler of life on the mean streets of Washington DC. George Pelecanos more recently
broadened his fanbase as screenwriter and
story editor on The
Wire. the Baltimore- based TV show that also used the crime genre to address urban issues. With his 16th novel. Pelecanos has moved away from the broad canvas of that HBO drama and his earlier books — most particularly the era- spanning DC quartet — to zone in on the troubled relationship between an upstanding member of the community. carpet business boss Thomas Flynn. and his delinquent son. Chris. Focusing on Chris' continued efforts to stay straight after serving time in a youth correction facility and Thomas' difficulty in accepting his son as anything other than a failure. The Way Home is a compelling social and domestic drama that’s enhanced by Pelecanos’ dynamic crime genre narrative style. (Miles Fielder)
HORROR COMIC CURT SIBLING
Total Fear: Collection 3
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF Life Inc: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back (Bodley Head) ”00
Now Curt Sibling is
back with more of his
effervescent adult's only humour. Total Fear 3 (a “Global Meltdown
Special') is a collection of shorts taking horror . (most notably HP
Lovecraft 's Cthulhu Mythos) and sci-fi (a timely Star Trek spoof) spinning them into bawdy comedy. Sibling's obsession
There‘s been a resurgence in the world of underground comics in Scotland of late. as we've tried to reflect on these very pages over the last few months.
pneumatic female leads is eventually distracting. Pitched somewhere between Russ Meyer and Benny Hill. it's fine to have strong female protagonists but why do they always need to be topless? It's camp and irreverent but all too repetitive. Sibling‘s art is especially strong though. reminiscent of the underground comix of the 608 and 70s.
particularly Gilbert Shelton and Robert
Crumb. It just needs a few stronger punchlines to underline the jokes.
Wake up Neo: the matrix has you. For social commentator Douglas Rushkoff, the current perilous economic landscape is only one of various possible versions that could have developed, and the economy’s greatest self-perpetuating myth is to make it all appear so seamless. We are operating inside a closed system, reckons Rushkoff, with marketing, consumerism, mass media and even our notion of individuality all working to convince us that the free market is a natural phenomenon. So far, so conspiracy theorist. But if you take the red pill, Rushkoff has some compelling arguments. He cites the jumping off point as the Renaissance, not seeing it as a time of unparalleled growth for the good of humanity, but rather as the watershed moment when those in power set up a system of rules to maintain their wealth and secure it through the creation of corporations.
These rules govern the way we do business and interact today and are rigged so that the house always wins. Whether the economy looks healthy or, like now, is in dire straits, the corporate machine trundles on and works to protect itself while capitalist competition keeps people disconnected from control, communities and each other. Countercultural writer Rushkoff offers a sweeping pass at the last 1000 years of the Western world, relaying his history in an accessible, anecdotal way and pointing towards an alternative route while stopping short of all-out didacticism. More coffee table politics than an academic text, Life Inc is a good starting point for the lay reader and does what a good wake-up call should: inspires further enquiry.
ALSO PUBLISHED 5 PAPERBACK BIOGS Carrie Fisher Wishful Drinking A slim but funny and intimate memoir about the Star Wars legend's mental problems and addictions. Pocket. Simon Gray Coda A posthumous publication of the proliﬁc playwrights fourth volume of memories. which prove somewhat bleaker than those previous. Granta. Anne de Conroy Snowdon If you like your royals to have a touch of the rebel about them. this biog should be your bag. Phoenix.
Mummy, Come Home Just to prove that the misery market continues to thrive. this is the tale of a Ukrainian mother duped into prostitution in Britain and her eventual escape. HarperTrue. Fern Britton Fern Comedian Wil Hodgson once said that he'd climb over Kylie Minogue to get to Fern Britton. Not sure if that tribute makes its way into this apparently inspirational autobiography. Penguin.