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The Suicide Kit

David L. Hayles (Author)

David L. Hayles's extraordinary d-but collection of short stories is an alarming excursion to a world populated by the suffering, the delusional and the criminally insane. It is a place where death comes unexpectedly and violently, at the hands of psychopaths, riflemen and cruel accident. These are tales of ingenious cruelty and sudden death in which menace and hilarity go hand in hand. The twenty stories that make up The Suicide Kit, for all their freaks and grotesques, are imbued with a brilliant, brutal humour. 'The Typing Pool' features the tyrannical director of a detention camp, a man in search of a secretary, whose competitive dictation test ends, as planned, in the execution of all but one of the applicants. In 'Bones', an uxorious man, fearful of his habit of falling out of love, takes a tribal potion designed to bring blissful fidelity only to begin a strange descent into necrophilia, whilst 'The Cruise' opens to us the diary of a bored wife on a cruise liner who inadvertently murders her husband. Elsewhere, we meet a sadistic hotelier whose pleasure is the kidnapping of foreign arrivals at London's Victoria Coach Station, a homicidal corporal who wipes out his own platoon, the incredible Doctor Octor, the worst doctor on Harley Street, and Orson Beadle, travelling purveyor of sex toys, who finds within a fearsome pub a gaggle of willing male initiates. Both surreal and provocative, The Suicide Kit is a unique d-but, the fictional equivalent of a short ride in a fast machine.

Tales Of Protection

Erik Fosnes Hansen (Author)

Tales of Protection is a novel about people in different places in different epochs - contemporary Norway, nineteenth-century Sweden, and Renaissance Italy - whose stories are bound together by the author's original and searching enquiry into why things happen the way they do. As the book opens, a dead man lies in his coffin reflecting on the past. Bolt was an eccentric scientist who devoted his old age to a vast research undertaking - collecting random incidents from the history of the species and finding the underlying pattern that connects them. This kind of hindsight, after all, must be a kind of heaven - or a kind of hell. His reveries lead him to tell two other tales - one of a doomed lighthouse keeper on a Swedish island and another of rivalry among Renassiance artists - and finally to tell a startling tale from his own early manhood. All of the tales, in his exquisitely suspenseful narration, demonstrate his theory of 'seriality', which is the opposite of causality. Erik Fosnes Hansen's Psalm at Journey's End was acclaimed as one of the most original works yet about the sinking of the Titanic. In Norway, Tales of Protection has been called a 'Blixenesque' masterpiece; it is a major new work of world literature, and a great leap forward for this gifted young writer.

Look At The Dark

Nicholas Mosley (Author)

'On a dark night a person searches on the brightly-lit ground under a lamp-post. A passer-by asks - For what are you searching? The person says - For the keys to my house. The passer-by says - Is this where you lost them? The person says - No I lost them in the dark, but this is where the light is.'
A retired academic and writer lies in a New York hospital bed. He has come there from his home in London to appear as a pundit on television, only to be knocked down by a car. Formerly an anthropologist, he is now tired of looking for order and reason where he can see none. His views on human nature and war are provocative and he has begun to find himself in demand. The forced inactivity allows him to reflect on the course of his life - the work he has done, the women he has known - and the characters from it begin to gather him: his first wife Valerie, his new wife Veronica, his son Adam.
He considers his first marriage and the curious version of fidelity they evolved, his days of teaching at Oxford, and the trip to Iran that saw him return with Nadia, a young girl whom he assists in escaping to a different life in England.
Witty, philosophical, and wise, Nicholas Mosley's latest novel is a timely portrait of one man's attempt to bring order to his disordered existence.

A Clergyman's Daughter

George Orwell (Author)

Although it is generally agreed that Orwell did not effectively reconcile the sections of this novel, the development of the narrativewas greatly hindered by the effects of censorship. This arose from thepublisher's understandable fears at the time that the book as submitted would lead to actions for libel, defamation and obscenity. In consequence, many pages were 'toned down' (again, Orwell's words), what was specific was made vague and unlocalised, and Dorothy's crucial loss of memory left unexplained. The discovery of details of cuts and changes required - most importantof which is Mr. Warburton's attempt to rape Dorothy - make it possibleto assess A Clergyman's Daughter afresh. Some passages can be restoredprecisely; whole areas of change can be identified though not restoredAs a result, Dorothy's 'little odyssey', her loss of faith and her subsequent resighned acceptance of her lot, can at last be read with afar clearer understanding of what Orwell intended. No one who reads A Clergyman's Daughter can ever regard the plight of those who exist, homeless and adrift, in a great city in the same way again, especiallyin the bitter cold of winter. Here Orwell is unforgettable : nowhere else does he write with quite such poignancy. In addition to restoringpassages that can be reconstructed,

One Tongue Singing

Susan Mann (Author)

Camille Pascal, a young, unmarried French nurse comes to South Africa with her father and her small daughter, Zara, during the closing years of the apartheid regime. The family settles amongst a wine-growing community in the Western Cape where they become involved in the lives of victims of the System. Interwoven with Camille's story is that of Jake Coleman, a painter with an international reputation, a deep-seated fear of failure, and a complicated private life. It is in the exclusive Jake Coleman School of Art that Zara, now a talented artist in her late teens, decides to enrol. She is a feral, troubled girl, obsessed with scenes of violence, and quite unlike anything Jake has encountered. One Tongue Singing explores some of the different faces of power, both in the ways it operates between individuals and in societies. It is written with economy, humanity and a hard brilliance, and it announces a distinctive new voice from South Africa.

Rapids

Tim Parks (Author)

'Suddenly alone, you see the river's horizon come to meet you. There's a certain glassiness to it and as the roar of the rapid swells the water grows more compact, it pulls more earnestly. Above and around, the mountains are quite still. Already you are past the point of no return. You must choose your line.'In the dramatic landscape of the Italian Alps a group of English canoeists arrive for an 'introduction to white water.' Camping, eating and paddling together, six adults and nine adolescents seem set to enjoy what their leader insists on calling a 'community experience.' Their hosts are Clive, a tactiturn figure but a leader, and Michela, his fragile girlfriend. Joining the group late are Vince, a banker trying to make sense of the flotsam of his existence, and his teenage daughter whom he feels moving inexorably away from him. Vince is no natural on the water but comes to relish the exhilaration of testing himself. He feels better for it. But the holiday cannot be entirely separated from the larger world. Rather than allowing them to forget their ordinary personalities, the dangerous river brings out qualities and failings in the most urgent fashion, provokes sudden conflicts, unexpected shifts of alliance. An ideal love affair breaks down and an apparently impossible one timidly buds. A banal disagreement turns violent. Meanwhile, the hottest summer on record is filling the glacier-fed rivers with a melt water so wild that it is surely unwise of the distracted instructors to launch their party into the last day's descent of the upper Aurina-Rapids grippingly evokes the vertiginous thrill of entering a hostile environment, of being at the limit of control. Tim Parks's latest novel is alive with the drama of the water and the fragility of the people it bears along.

Light

Timothy O'Grady (Author)

An elderly Pole sits in a cafe in Krakow. At another table a young man with a ravaged face is drinking wine and reading Werner Heisenberg's Physics and Philosophy. They begin to talk. All through the night as they go from bar to bar the young man tells the story of the great love of his life, of how in the midst of their rapture the woman inexplicably disappeared, and of how he is now driving across Europe in a desperate attempt to find her. After they part in the pre-dawn light the old man returns to his rooms and finds himself beset by questions. Why can he not forget this young man? Who was the woman he was with and why did she leave him? These questions lead him back through his own life, from pre- and post-war Poland, to his membership of the Communist Party and his own life-altering love affair with a woman he met in Berlin and then ran away with to the sand dunes of the Baltic coast until she, too, left him without explanation. Through the years that followed he wandered the world trying to escape from the memory of her. Now, back in a small town in Poland, he begins to assemble stories both from his own past and that of the young man and the woman he loved and lost until he finds himself on an unexpected quest. Light traverses Europe and parts of America, the history of physics and political changes in Central Europe. It is about love and ruin, East and West, friendship and betrayal, the search for certainty and the consequent disillusionment. It is, too, about the making of stories and how they can lead, inadvertently, to revelation.

Author, Author

David Lodge (Author)

In David Lodge's last novel, Thinks... the novelist Henry James was invisibly present in quotation and allusion. In Author, Author he is centre stage, sometimes literally. The story begins in December 1915, with the dying author surrounded by his relatives and servants, most of whom have private anxieties of their own, then loops back to the 1880s, to chart the course of Henry's 'middle years', focusing particularly on his friendship with the genial Punch artist and illustrator, George Du Maurier, and his intimate but chaste relationship with the American writer Constance Fenimore Woolson. By the end of the decade Henry is seriously worried by the failure of his books to 'sell', and decides to try and achieve fame and fortune as a playwright, at the same time that George Du Maurier, whose sight is failing, diversifies into writing novels. The consequences, for both men, are surprising, ironic, comic and tragic by turns, reaching a climax in the years 1894-5. As Du Maurier's Trilby, to the bewilderment of its author himself, becomes the bestseller of the century, Henry anxiously awaits the first night of his make-or-break play, Guy Domville ... Thronged with vividly drawn characters, some of them with famous names, others recovered from obscurity, Author, Author presents a fascinating panorama of literary and theatrical life in late Victorian England, which in many ways foreshadowed today's cultural mix of art, commerce and publicity. But it is essentially a novel about authorship - about the obsessions, hopes, dreams, triumphs and disappointments, of those who live by the pen - with, at its centre, an exquisite characterisation of one writer, rendered with remarkable empathy.

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