Sunday 12 October 1997
In This Dark House by Louise Kehoe, Penguin pounds 6.99. This is "Daddy Dearest": to follow on from the more sentimental Dads-reminiscence of the New Lads, a memoir from the daughter of avant garde architect Berthold Lubetkin (the "father of British modernism") which testifies to the living hell of parental and marital tyranny the great man created. Lubetkin suddenly decided to take his family to live on an isolated farm, where he bullied his wife, and by turns ridiculed and ignored his children. What's more, he turned out to be a world-class liar: his stories of being the only survivor of a family murdered by Bolsheviks are shown, after his death, to have been false. Kehoe has managed a painful sort of forgiveness, but this is therapy-literature.
The Story of the Night by Colm Tibn, Picador pounds 15.99. Argentina in the Eighties: Richard Garay, a gay English teacher, lives with his tiresome English mother, who herself lives in a fictional British Empire, complete with jingoistic Thatcherism. He has casual sex with strangers and a hopeless crush on one of his affluent, heterosexual pupils, until he falls properly in love. A CIA couple induct Richard into the strange political agenda of US oil-barons: namely, the privatisation of Argentinian oil. Suddenly he's rich, wearing suits, and being seduced - the classic American yuppie in a country pillaged by political corruption and brutality towards its own citizens. Other realities emerge: a former classmate, he discovers, was dropped out of a plane over the ocean, one of Argentina's "Disappeared". Tibn's trademark terse prose wraps over the pacy narrative to give a picture of wider society - and a frightening one at that.
Fighting Talk: The Biography of John Prescott by Colin Brown, Simon & Schuster pounds 6.99. On 2 May, John Prescott waved to the cameras as he walked up to 10 Downing Street. "I've waited years for this," was his comment. He entered the Commons 27 years ago, and the deputy leadership was his first ministerial position. But even that didn't come easily, and this book documents Prescott's sometimes stormy relations with Tony Blair in fascinating detail. If you want to understand the role of this tub-thumping, grass-roots man in the New Labour dream-machine, try this engrossing book.
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