BOOKS / Paperbacks

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The Independent Culture
New Jerusalems: Reflections on Islam, Fundamentalism and the Rushdie Affair by Daniel Easterman, Grafton pounds 5.99. For how many more years (this is the fourth) will we be obliged on 14 February to commemorate that infamous fatwa? This intelligent book bends over backwards to see the other side, but its conclusion, that the intolerance inherent in all forms of fundamentalism is itself quite simply intolerable, is surely right: 'I think of . . . all the proclamations of life that have come under the stern interdict of the smugly saved. And I wonder who will save us from them or save them from themselves.'

The Love Poems of D H Lawrence ed Roy Booth, Kyle Cathie pounds 8.99. Enterprising Valentine's Day anthology, from prissy self- accusing odes to Miriam ('I failed to give you the last/Fine torture'), to elegies to mum ('My darling/You were a doorway to me'), to celebration of Frieda ('her swung breasts/Sway like full-blown yellow/Gloire de Dijon roses'). No room for DHL's poetry in The Literary Companion to Sex (Mandarin pounds 7.99), though the self-appointed Queen of Raunch, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, does include Lady Chatterley alongside Eskimo Nell, Rochester, Sappho, Byron, Fanny Hill, etc.

The Rebirth of History: Eastern Europe in the Age of Democracy by Misha Glenny, Penguin pounds 6.99. This thoughtful study was one of the first to sound serious and sadly accurate warnings about 1989 and all that. In this new edition Glenny refrains from saying 'I told you so' too loudly, but uses and analyses pertinent new information while continuing to take the long view of the relationship between economic development, ideology and nationalism. Still one of the best commentators around.

Revenge ed Kate Saunders, Pan pounds 5.99. Short story collection in which the likes of Ruth Rendell, Shena Mackay and Alice Walker tackle one of literature's great themes, but fail quite to justify the editor's claim that subtlety is woman's middle name. Only a magnificent period piece by Louisa May Alcott, in which the heroine glowers and flashes her eyes like nobody's business, really does the subject justice. But look out, too, for Muriel Spark's elegant ghost story.

Soho in the Fifties by Daniel Farson, Pimlico pounds 8.50. Gossipy, affectionate memoir of Fitzrovian life in which the luminous, the impecunious and the mildly infamous - Francis Bacon, Jeffrey Bernard, Lucian Freud, Colin MacInnes et al - float in a sea of gin and vodka in such legendary haunts as the French pub and the Colony Room. Hard, if you weren't there, entirely to understand the magic, but the poignancy and black humour come through: MacInnes, helping up an old woman who had tripped running for a bus, 'suddenly realised who she was, but his mother no longer recognised him'.

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