IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 24 Tuesday, 18 August 2009 London Lite REVIEWSBOOKS It must be love: Suggs, left, shares his tips for coffee on Frith St, above SHORT STORIES Too Much Happiness ByAliceMunro(Chatto&Windus,17.99) HHHHH Alice Munros 11th book of short stories confirms how worthy she is of this years Man Booker international Prize, which recognises an authors whole body of work (as opposed to the Man Booker Prize, which is for a single novel). The canadian has written another brilliant collection of mainly ontario-based stories -- which are, of course, more depressing than the books title suggests -- focusing on characters and relationships rather than plot. Dimensions is a story that reminded me of lionel shrivers We need To Talk About Kevin: it gradually reveals why a womans husband ended up in prison. in Fiction, Munro examines the pitfalls of basing a character on someone you actually know. The long Too Much Happiness tale is about a real-life 19th-century russian mathematics professor who embarks on an ill-fated love affair, while childs Play is a Margaret Atwood-like story of brutal teenage bullying. Munros abrupt endings take a while to get used to, but her sublime characterisation, particularly when shes writing about strong women, is second to none. LaUREN PaxmaN A novel based on the true story of a friendship between two female fossil- hunters in 19th-century lyme Regis doesnt necessarily bode well. But in the hands of Tracy Chevalier, whose Girl With A Pearl earring spun a bestselling book and a Hollywood film out of a vermeer painting, high expectations are justified. There are two narrators: poverty-stricken teenager Mary Anning and intelligent middle- class spinster elizabeth Philpott. The two bond over their love of fossil-hunting, and while Mary is better at unearthing skeletons, she needs elizabeth to help raise awareness of her finds. Chevalier perfectly captures the spirit and voice of the times. The passages about the Philpott sisters almost read like a Jane Austen novel. The big theme -- evolution versus religion -- reminds us how revolutionary Darwins The origin of Species was. A guaranteed bestseller. LP THe French poet Arthur rimbaud, says edmund White in this forthright biography, wasnt always gay -- then again, people in the 19th century didnt define their sexuality as precisely as we do. But rimbaud was all sorts of things -- a prodigy, a scholar, a tramp, a drunk, and just about the most obnoxious person in France. rivalling him in this regard was his lover, Paul Verlaine, who once dismembered the pickled foetuses of his dead siblings, which his mother kept in a jar. WILLIam LEITH Rimbaud ByEdmundWhite (Atlantic,8.99) Newpaperbacks SPORT Football Nation: Sixty Years Of The Beautiful Game ByAndrewWardandJohnWilliams (Bloomsbury,18) HHHHI THIS is not a Rebus book but its fast, slick and exciting. Mike Mackenzie has made millions in IT, and now hes a middle-aged man of leisure. Hes bored, rich and single. His solution? To take part in an art heist. But as soon as the heist happens, cracks appear. Its exciting to see the gang -- scaredy-cat Allan, vicious Chib, and over- reaching Mike -- as they withstand the probing of the police. My eyes were darting down the pages. WL Doors Open ByIanRankin (Orion,7.99) Youll find a lot of books about economics on the shelves, and a lot of books about how we can be greener and cleaner. But this is a book that combines the two -- McKibben, who wrote The end of nature, explains the history of humanity in terms of our relationship with our resources. Hes a bit like Jared Diamond. The turning point in human history, he says, was the invention of the steam engine. And now that weve trashed the environment, what can we do? Buy local. A good argument. WL Deep Economy ByBillMcKibben (OneWorld,9.99) THE BIG READ Suggs And The City: My Journeys Through Disappearing London BySuggs(Headline,18.99) HHHII MARTHA DE LACEY FICTION Remarkable Creatures ByTracyChevalier(HarperCollins,15.99) HHHHI W HAT with suggss fond- ness for doing secret gigs (suggs, honey, seri- ously, if its always you lot, its not really a secret), its a miracle he has time to pen any new music, let alone a whopping great book. And yet, suggs -- who, like double- decker buses and pigeon poop, has something intrinsically london about him -- managed to sit still for long enough to jot down a jolly little autobiography, which hes cleverly wrapped up as a historical snapshot of his beloved home town. The lead singer of camdens easy-geezer pub rockers Madness was born to a jazz-loving dad and a jazz-singing mum, who moved to london from liverpool i n t h e s i x t i e s . nicknaming himself after jazz flautist Pete suggs -- because he wanted a cool nickname and theres nothing c o o l e r t h a n j a z z -- t he young Graham McPherson formed such a bond with the capital that he calls this book a love letter to london. He tells us where to satisfy the post-pub munchies (he loves an elephant leg kebab), about his fondness for the long-lost music hall scene and gives advice on where to get the best cappuccino on Frith street (Bar italia. Fact). intertwined with sec- tions on cabbies huts, sheet music shops, jellied eels, dog tracks, football clubs and old cinemas converted into Wetherspoons, are anecdotes old and new. He reveals that charles Dickens situated Fagins den in an alleyway in Farringdon, on a site now occupied by well-to-do law firm lovells. But he also tells personal stories: at 21, he abandoned his new wife Anne at the Piccadilly ritz during their honey- moon to scoot off to luton, pick up the car he was buying her as a surprise wedding gift and wrap it with a bow. Though the final chapter on crystal Palace is a bit dreary and his grumbling about the good old days and crummy new ones can grate, this glorified pub crawl takes a peek under many a curious cobble. And youve got to love a man who, on more than one occasion, sneaked into The Groucho club through the ladies loo window, even when he could afford the members fee. Madlyinlove with London AH, THe sound of leather against leather. As the new football season begins shrouded in its usual cloak of humbug and hypocrisy (30m Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney bemoaning the role of money in Manchester Citys perky start to the season), this comprehensive account of how the UKs national sport has changed since the Second World War offers a reminder that it has always been driven by cold, hard cash. Did you know, for example, that one professional footballer, driven to desperation by the awful economic circumstances of the early eighties, offered his services to local farmers as a scarecrow? This dip-in, dip- out book by a sports writer and a sociologist covers a good deal of ground: the Burnden Park disaster in 1946 which foreshadowed the tragedies in the eighties; the advent of floodlit football; the Munich air crash and its role in turning Man U into a global brand; non-white and overseas footballers; the fate of professional players when they retire; Wimbledons move to Milton Keynes and lots more. The writing is sometimes turgid and the chapter on hooliganism is full of obvious conclusions but theres much here that intrigues. Welcome back, football, weve missed you. PaUL CONNOLLYMoney moaning: Wayne Rooney Colourfulhistoryoffootball thatcoversa lotofground index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html