BOOKS IN BRIEF

8 Troutstream by Gerald Lynch, 4th Estate £l4.99.

Gripping madness, snobbery and Elvis-impersonators (or "Elvii") stalk the streets of Troutstream, Ontario, a town that was originally designed by a graduate student at the University of Ottawa as the epitome of the 1950s suburban dream. Latterly, clairvoyant Iris is reading wickedness in her tea-leaves and little blind Michael senses that Evil is afoot as well. Soon teenage girls and pets go missing and are found mutilated in bins. Yet this gore is treated almost incidentally to the domestic dramas of a cast of characters - usefully identified at the outset, immediately after the vital Troutstream street map - who vie for the narrative reins to tell us of two-faced politicians, subsidised housing projects and incorrigible voyeurism.

The voices range from a lushness worthy of Stephen Fry - "My friend Nigel does drape his trunk in such a variety of brightly coloured materials as would make a gathering of hot air balloon or tall-ship enthusiasts grin sheepishly at their rigging" - to the slight brutishness of the predominating mystery narrator whose identity couldn't really be puzzled out without that cast list, but who gives up his secret in the end and injects the sinister Twin Peaks tone. (I don't suppose the Lynches, David and Gerald, are related in more than their gift for black comic menace?)

The book may look more like stories and weird character studies united by a single place, but this doesn't really stretch the term novel too far, mainly because it is all just so, well - wonderfully novel. Lynch is categorically a writer to watch.

8 Going Naked is the Best Disguise by Steven Jacobi, Secker £9.99.

"Everyone thinks their families are eccentric," says the narrator demurely on page two, before going on to prove that his family is indeed spectacularly bizarre. While the menfolk are for the most part shy incompetents, his brusque German mother hoovers in the nude, cleans compulsively and saves mustard jars to use as glasses; his Aunty Betty thinks Jesus is living in her back garden, and his grandmother doesn't believe in serving cold food - her catchphrase is: "I'll just go and heat up the ice-cream."

These exotics bloom luridly in the jewellery quarter of '60s Birmingham, where the schoolboy narrator, necessarily bland in comparison, struggles vainly for normality. As a small boy's insight into the madness of adults it has charm, but unfortunately Jacobi has forgotten to put a plot in; this is a series of sometimes hilarious episodes, interleaved with a wartime correspondence that, like the book as a whole, only develops a shape towards the end. The fact that the boy grows up in the course of the novel is not quite enough of a narrative thrust.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there