Saturday 25 May 1996
The Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux (Penguin, pounds 6.99) While no-one would accuse Theroux of excessive geniality, our acerbic hero's circuit of the Med (anti-clockwise from Gib to Tangier) generates less bile than his previous meandering in the South Pacific. Despite his grouchy reputation, Theroux talks to everyone and his vision remains astonishingly fresh. Just occasionally, you wonder where keen observation stops and padding begins but in general, it's superb entertainment. The low point comes not in shell-holed Dubrovnik but in Albania, a place so ''filthy and deranged'' that Theroux escapes as a stowaway.
The Day the War Ended by Martin Gilbert (HarperCollins, pounds 8.99) Hundreds of first-hand accounts of VE Day are expertly woven into a gripping narrative by our greatest historian of 20th century conflict. The tone is darker than might be expected, with the opening of concentration camp gates revealing the ''wild nightmare'' within. But there is also much joy: a POW thrills to hear Crosby singing ''Blue Skies''; an American girl in Paris informs a soldier ''Nope, not even on VE Day...'' And on a Phillipines island, Onoda Hiroo, left behind after the Japanese retreat continues his one- man campaign until ordered to surrender in 1974.
Homebush Boy by Thomas Keneally (Sceptre, pounds 5.99) 1952 was the ''most succulent and the most dangerous'' year of Thomas Keneally's life. This was the year he turned 17 and decided to cast himself in the role of Romantic poet and aesthete extraordinaire. School tie loosened into a cravat, an OUP edition of Gerard Manley Hopkins poetry bulging from his blazer pocket, he wandered the streets of Homebush (a non-descript suburb 15 miles west of Sydney) trying to look like a cross between Thomas Chatterton and Beethoven. What Australian boys were like before Neighbours.
Career Girls by Louise Bagshawe (Orion, pounds 5.99) Rowena Gordon is blonde, cool, virginal and wants to get into the music business. Topaz Rossi, a red-headed Italian-American with attitude, has her eyes on the editor's chair at Vanity Fair. They meet (and fall out) at Oxford over coffee and chocolate hobnobs, and graduate from being screwed by posh English boys on the banks of the Cherwell, to being screwed by brash New Yorkers in 5th Avenue apartments. A blockbuster of the classiest kind - give it to your 14-year-old niece and she'll love you forever (though it may trigger a life-long aversion to post-coital bagels and cream cheese).
At Eighty Two by May Sarton (Women's Press, pounds 8.99) In this, the last of her journals, poet and novelist May Sarton records her on-going battle with the creative act, and the growing impositions of ''real old age''. As ever, her diary entries are a seductive combination of domestic detail (anticipating a slice of lemon cake after a morning's work, or watching a Whoopi Goldberg video), and poetic reflections on the New England weather. Unsurprisingly, as she grows older, Sarton dwells increasingly on childhood memories - at one point noting that ''even at eighty-one, when you are ill, you want your mother''.
Cold Snap by Thom Jones (Faber, pounds 8.99) Hot on the heels of his highly acclaimed first collection The Pugilist at rest, Thom Jones delivers another batch of sotires about manic, violent characters in a world of extremes. Jones's ''misfit individualists'' include aid-workers in Africa, cosmetic- surgeons in La-la Land, a card-playing baboon named George Babbitt, and an advertising genius with a bad case of the ''Congo trots.'' They're all either on drugs or should be.
The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle (Bloomsbury, pounds 5.99) Forget that tricky middle name, just call him ''T.C.'' Boyle, and get on with the fun business of reading one of America's most adventurous novelists. Boyle delivers his best work in this social survey of both sides of contemporary southern California's economic divide - yuppies in gated-communities, and disenfranchised illegal aliens sleeping rough in the canyons. The book's protagonist, Delaney Mossbacher, is the perfect liberal environmentalist - he loves nature, just so long as it doesn't move in next door. Funny, fast, sharp, and absorbing - a Grapes of Wrath for the Nineties.
Life & Style blogs
Best three-ingredient recipes: From Nutella brownies to mac and cheese and pulled pork
The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
The lesser known erogenous zones - and how to find them
Jane Birkin asks Hermès fashion house to rename luxury Birkin bags after animal cruelty concerns
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Labour leadership contest: I would never quit the party, says Liz Kendall
- 1 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 4 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
- 5 What TripAdvisor users think of 16 of the world's most popular landmarks
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...
£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...
£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...