BOOK FICTION: IN BRIEF

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The Independent Culture
2 Eclipse by J Bernlef, Faber pounds 8.99. When Kees Zomer drives his car into a canal he emerges with his mind skewed. Lacking all sensation and sight on his left side, he imposes order on a mystifying and disordered world by painstakingly making a map to supplement what he sees with remembered observations: "the absent portion of the world was almost immediately filled with a mental perception of it." Language comes from his mouth confused; he has no knowledge of who or where he is. The novel traces the next 10 days of his life before he gets back to normal. He's haunted by clear, fragmented memories, but "if there are no links any more, no sequences, your memories are worthless." Slowly he begins to relate to the world he remembers, and the interlude fades to nothing in his brain. This is a poetic and thought-provoking exploration into the nature of perception and the role of memory and imagination.

2 Ming's Kingdom by Nicol Williamson, Hutchinson pounds 14.99. In his first novel actor Nicol Williamson ably demonstrates that making the switch to another medium is not always easy. His hero Rick, a successful actor, marries a woman who defines many a male fantasy - beautiful face, stunning body, great in the sack and an apparent brain by-pass. So devoted is she to the temple that is her body she breaks off her wedding lunch to go for a "twat-splitting" workout. The sex is hot and graphically described: "The thermodynamic and his heat-seeking missile locked in their timebomb quickstep by death." And even when she pees, "Jesus, what an awesome little turbine". But Adrienne is increasingly absent from her new husband and surrounds herself with her grotesque family and friends. Why doesn't Rick cotton on sooner to the fact they're using him? It's hard to feel anything for so many characters who need a good shake. Fanny Blake

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