which it was written. John Hicklenton was a controversial but much- loved British artist whose exaggerated and brutal art brought to vivid life the likes of Judge Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock. Sadly Hicklenton was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, and chose to take his own life in Switzerland with the help of Dignitas earlier this year. What he left us was 100 Months, his final primal scream of rage and frustration. When you look at 100 Months in this context, you can’t help but be moved by an uncompromising look at the selfishness of humanity. There’s a strong environmental message, a pitch black humour and lashings of ultra-violence as Mara (representing earth) seeks bloody revenge against the Longpig. Uncensored and unrelenting, its anger and honesty is a fitting tribute to an artist who lived on the edge. (Henry Northmore)
SHORT TALES JAMES FRANCO Palo Alto (Faber) ●●●●●
HORROR COMIC PAT MILLS & OLIVIER LEDROIT Requiem Vampire Knight: Volumes 3 & 4 (Panini Books/Nickel) ●●●●●
Originally published in French, we finally get the English translations of the third and fourth collected volumes of the Pat Mills horror tale set in the depths of hell. It’s a world where our codes and morals are inverted, where evil is rewarded and good despised. Mills has perhaps created the ultimate anti-hero in Requiem, a Nazi who committed heinous acts in his lifetime but now seems to be trying to atone for those sins in hell. These further volumes thrust us deeper into the political machinations of the warring factions that rule the underworld, giving Mills an even broader canvas for his biting satire.
Layering this nightmarish world with dark metaphors (zombies are the working classes, vampires the ruling elite, drugs and corrupt commerce abound) as the inequalities in our society are held up to a warped mirror. While this is most defiantly for ‘mature readers only’, packed as it is with gore, baboon sex, blood and lust, it’s also a bawdy comedy that owes as much debt to Benny Hill as Jonathan Swift.
Mills has really hit his stride with Requiem; now the rules have been established in the opening collections, he can spend his time fleshing out the details and characters. Olivier Ledroit’s distinctive art once again brings Mills’ hugely complex imaginary world to life with his exquisitely detailed and vivid, full-colour pages which add another level of visual Grand Guignol and twisted humour. A genuinely funny, smart and action-packed romp. (Henry Northmore)
PSYCHOANALYTIC DRAMA NOAM SHPANCER The Good Psychologist (Abacus) ●●●●● Although it’s unlikely that anyone picking up a book called The Good Psychologist would be
devoid of an interest in therapy, it’s still worth pointing out that if you are, Noam Shpancer’s novel has little to offer you. For those fascinated by the inner workings of the human psyche, this book is about as close to a beach read as analysis gets. We never learn his
name, but the eponymous psychologist works by day in an anxiety clinic, by night at a college, and worries inbetween about the married woman he loves but cannot be with. If you can’t figure out that Shpancer’s reference to
‘the cranky Viennese’ means Sigmund Freud, it’s unlikely the plot will carry you sufficiently through pages of therapeutic discussion. Meanwhile, those in the know will either champion our hero’s cognitive behavioural approach or tut from the safety of their own theoretical stance. (Kelly Apter)
COMIC JOHN HICKLENTON 100 Months (Cutting Edge) ●●●●● To truly appreciate 100 Months, you need to understand the circumstances under
Currently starring in Danny Boyle’s new movie and set to co- host next month’s Oscars ceremony with the no-doubt delightful Anne Hathaway, James Franco is hot stuff right now. Without those two filmy gigs, though, it’s unlikely that his literary career alone would be bringing him quite the same number of column inches. He may have surrounded himself with credible authorly pals
(Michael Cunningham says he taught Franco everything he knew while a comedy trailer for Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story featured Franco merrily spoofing it up) but the end result of his debut is as bland as it gets.
In the titular Californian city, a bunch of teens (both male and female) play out their adolescent traumas, doubts and fears to an early-90s backdrop. There’s a lot of violence, inappropriate sexual behaviour and, ultimately, a death or two which leave the reader despairingly apathetic. A prevailing uncertainty about everything his characters do is reflected in the hesitant and flat prose on the page. (Brian Donaldson)
SOCIAL MEMOIR SUSAN MAUSHART The Winter of Our Disconnect (Profile) ●●●●●
With Susan Maushart’s home strewn with laptops, Nintendos and webcams, this single mother of three teenagers decided to embark on ‘The Experiment’. Her six- month exile from technology was a controversial move as her kids were Facebook addicts, gaming and Googling obsessively, while she’d started taking her laptop and iPhone to bed with her. But the journalist’s digital detox allowed her to reconnect with simple pleasures, and bond with her family by unplugging from the screens that separated them. Her account is
peppered with worrying statistics on our growing dependency on
5 PAPERBACK BIOGRAPHIES Edmund White City Boy Featuring the author’s recollections of his life in New York during the 60s and 70s with lots of social history and plenty gossip. Bloomsbury. Shelina Zahra Janmohamed Love in a Headscarf Realising that John Travolta would probably never marry her, this Muslim social commentator went down the arranged-marriage route to find her ‘Mr Right’. Aurum.
Julie Nicholson A Song for Jenny The mother of a victim of the 7/7 London attacks questioned her role as a vicar after her daughter’s death. Her faith was no longer strong enough to quell her anger. Harper.
John Burnside Waking Up in Toytown After A Lie About My Father, comes the Fife author’s story of getting through the 80s when living a normal life proved to be impossible. Vintage. Joanne Limburg The Woman Who Thought Too Much The memoir of a life lived as a sufferer of obsessive- compulsive disorder, told with wit and wisdom. Atlantic.
IT, and anecdotes of Amazon and iTunes withdrawals her family suffered. Although Maushart is a naturally witty and intelligent storyteller (a native New Yorker, she transplanted to Australia for a doomed marriage), certain passages perhaps prove how our attention spans have shortened in the digital age. Her 40-page chapter on ‘boredom’ begins to drag, but ultimately her cautionary tale of media addiction is entertaining. Even if you wish for the audiobook version at times. (Claire Sawers) 6–20 Jan 2011 THE LIST 35