books image   back of the book
 
stephen fry   "Yes, Stephen Fry can write a taut thriller too," remarked the London Telegraph about the author-actor-comedian's latest literary effort. A departure from Fry's earlier comic novels, Revenge focuses on Ned Maddstone, a teenage golden boy with looks, brains, class, background, a girlfriend, and a future of great promise. When a prank pulled by a jealous classmate goes horribly and unexpectedly awry, Ned finds himself drugged, beaten, and detained as a political prisoner. Exiled in a remote mental institution for over a decade, he makes the acquaintance of a fellow inmate who trains him in the subtle methods of deception and action that will facilitate his escape. With his newly acquired skills, Ned resurrects himself as Simon Cotter, youthful head of a vast media empire and the cyberworld's glorious It boy. With the world at his feet, Simon begins his grand plan to enact a nightmarish, bloody revenge on those who took away his life. Described as a Count of Monte Cristo for the dot-com era, Revenge is a stylish, rapid-fire thriller and a chillingly dark surprise from Stephen Fry.
 
alessandro baricco   It often occurs that when a book, originally conceived in a native tongue, is published in the English edition, despite any genius or literary gold contained therein, the cry is raised that "something was lost in the translation." And yet, it seems wholly possible, after reading Alessandro Baricco's new novel, City, that something can be gained in the process.

Gould is a thirteen year old genius who passes all his spare time, when not pursuing the elusive dream of a Nobel prize, with his two imaginary friends, the giant Diesel and the mute Poomerang. Shatzy Shell is a thirty-year old ex-secretary, who inadvertently ends up as Gould's caretaker and confidante. Both of them, in their own way, is in the process of constructing an imaginary world to shield themselves from the very real burdens of modern American society. Gould retreats to the bathroom where he vocally explores the life of a make-believe boxer, Larry "Lawyer" Gorman, while Shatzy has for some time been developing an expansive and dramatic Western, with gun fights, gold mines and whores that moonlight as schoolmarms.

As an Italian writing a novel set in America, combined with the usual stumblings of the translation process, Baricco's new novel takes on a gloriously absurd and surreal tone. It is an America built on a soundstage on the outskirts of Rome, with flat-bread pizza and gelato for lunch. The dreams shared by the main characters are more American than the city in which they live. But it is these very dreams that make the novel truly shine, whether the world of boxing or gunslingers. Mr. Barrico brings a great farce of a novel to colorful, imaginative life, with guns blazing.
 
peter benchley   Rarely does a book strike fear into the public consciousness as effectively as Peter Benchley's 1976 classic, Jaws. As summer approaches and the shores grow crowded, it's difficult for beach goers to gaze across the ocean's horizon without imagining a dorsal fin cutting through the water as a great white shark ascends upon unsuspecting vacationers. In his new book, Shark Trouble, Mr. Benchley reminds us that the waters still hold mysteries and terror but points out that ignorance is the greatest thing we need fear upon exploring the ocean.

Pointing out that a person would no sooner enter the jungle armed, "only with a bathing suit, a tube of suntan cream, and a book", this adventurous writer all but apologizes for the anti-shark stereotypes he created in Jaws. Mr. Benchley's first ever work of non-fiction, is certainly filled with harrowing encounters in the deep but it's fascinating explanations of why these things happen and what can be done to avoid them just may serve notice that it's safe to return to the water.
 
martin amis   By its very title, The War Against Cliché extends a challenge to writers to combat complacent thinking and creation in their work. Subconsciously, it asks of its readers something more: a reconsideration of its author, Martin Amis. Throw out the tabloid fodder of his literary superstardom--the broken marriage, the Julian Barnes rift, and, for god's sake, the dentistry--and the preconceptions of his particular style that his own father, author-critic Kingsley Amis, dismissed as "that constant demonstrating of his command of English." The War Against Cliché serves up a different Martin Amis--the best version, in fact. As a critic, he achieves a relaxed naturalness unlike the frenetic pyrotechnics of his novels; his articles could have come straight out of a conversation at his local with a mate. (The cover of the still handsome, simply dressed Amis poking his head into the frame, bent by experience or perhaps the experiences of Experience, contributes to this feeling. That is, until The Gap co-opts this picture for a "Martin Amis wore oxford shirts" ad.) Yet he maintains his impressive presence throughout this collection, unleashing his fearsome sharpness and insight as he slays Thomas Harris and Michael Crichton, praises Saul Bellow, examines Jane Austen, defends Philip Larkin, and gets snarky about Elvis Presley and the Guinness Book of World Records. Engaging and coolly discerning, The War Against Cliché not only deconstructs the process of writing but also the very image of Martin Amis's own literary talent.
 
author's page