IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 22 Tuesday, 20 October 2009 London Lite REVIEWSBOOKS The high price ofstyleadvice Hammondstraysoff-trackwith amiddle-of-the-roadmemoir COMEDY Jack Dee ThanksForNothing(Doubleday,20) HHHHI CONTAINS strong opinions from the outset, warns Dee in his preface and you can imagine him gleefully rubbing his hands together. Thanks For Nothing may masquerade as an autobiography, but really its a rant at everyone and everything that has p***ed Dee off in his life. No grievance is too petty, no grudge too vindictive. He bitterly remembers once buying a pencil with a rubber at the end that didnt work properly. He seethes about paying 65 for a spare part for the boiler. Its all very funny, even if you can glimpse the gloom underneath. Perhaps its not surprising Dee feels the sum of human misery so keenly. He drifted for years, taking dead-end jobs that included working in an artificial leg factory and holding a golf sale sign, before hitting the bottle in his twenties and becoming an alcoholic. The road to recovery was via Christianity and an application to the clergy before he found his vocation in comedy. His compulsive urge to share -- an anecdote about a blocked toilet suggests nothing was off-limits -- makes this an equally compulsive read. AC Most people have a funny neighbour or two, but Louis de Bernires grew up in a village full of crazies. Beautifully exaggerated character studies of lots of them make it into this collection of short stories about the inhabitants of the surrey village hes renamed Notwithstanding. theres Robert, who basked in the glory of catching a huge pike for decades, Mrs Mac the mystic, who hasnt realised her husbands dead -- although hes not very talkative -- and a silly bugger whos determined to turn his mole-ridden garden into a putting green. the stories range from a heartbreaking tale about a resident who can no longer afford to live in the village to a Jane Austen-style romance about a servant girl who falls for her master. But its the way the characters reappear in other stories, gradually revealing more and more, that makes this collection a delight. LAUREN PAXMAN tEXtING is huge. Wed hardly heard of it a decade ago but now Britons do it tens of billions of times a year. so if it is causing problems, we need to know how to manage them, says Crystal. But why should it be causing problems? theres nothing new about using acronyms, as Crystal points out (think Nato and BBC). And what about all those common, everyday abbreviations we all use, such as Mr and Mrs? Weve been at it for centuries. so calm down. WL Txtng ByDavidCrystal (Oxford,6.99) Newpaperbacks IN THIS top- notch book, Richard Holmes looks at British scientists a couple of centuries ago, when people sought knowledge for its own sake. Theres the young Joseph Banks, possibly the most romantic botanist ever, who went to Tahiti with Captain Cook and became deeply involved with the Pacific islanders. And theres William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, Humphry Davy, the inventor who was also a poet, and some fine stuff about Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. WILLIAM LEITH The Age Of Wonder ByRichardHolmes (HarperPress,9.99) THESE are spiky, bleak stories you wont forget. Galloway takes you inside the heads of people who are frightened and confused. The girl who has a tooth pulled out and goes back to school still bleeding. The female teacher who has a sexual encounter with a male teenager. A woman walking in the rain and thinking about her hair. Another woman preparing to take a pregnancy test. There are lovely gems half hidden in this prose. The stories are moving and poignant. Sometimes you have to read them twice. WL Collected Stories ByJaniceGalloway (Vintage,8.99) THE BIG READ Standing Out ByKatiePrice(Century,20) HIIII AMBER COWAN SHORT STORIES Notwithstanding ByLouisdeBernires(HarvillSecker,12.99) HHHHH Y ES, I know what youre thinking: Katie Price writ- ing a style book? Youre having a laugh! Well, yes. Particularly as shes wear- ing a Care Bears nightie on the front cover. But this is indeed Priceys guide to looking good, living life and being happy -- a sort of Eat, Pray, Love with added plastic surgery. Its a chance for her to share hard-won wisdom like never go for the cheapest boob job, and repeat the catchphrase I dont care what people think of me until you stop hearing it, like traffic. You wont read much here that hasnt been parroted before, so instead lets turn straight to the outfits. Theres the pink rubber catsuit she wore for Eurovision that made her look like a giant washing-up glove, the peach loo-roll holder wedding dress and the bra, knickers and fishnets ensemble that ticked all the boxes for her pimps and prostitutes party -- com- plete with make-up that looked like it was applied with a JCB. I always get asked if I regret anything Ive worn in the past and the honest answer is no, she reflects -- you can really hear that brittle voice. Ive always left the house thinking I looked good. Its difficult to imagine just who she feels her audience is. You certainly wouldnt want anyone impressionable reading her view on sunbeds -- When youre pregnant you can look so pale a tan can really give you a boost -- or what she recommends wear- ing when out clubbing: If you dont feel confident enough to visit sex shops, try fancy-dress stores. Some bookshops have threatened not to stock Standing Out, pointing out that Price has already pub- lished three memoirs since 2004. You can sympathise: trees were cut down so she could share her thoughts on men in make-up (really sexy, if youre won- dering, which sounds like a well-timed dig at Pete.) Its the life advice that got me, though. After going on about the beauty within, she says: I havent had as much surgery as everyone seems to think. At the last count its five boob jobs, a nose job, veneers on my teeth, lipo on my lips, Botox and injectable fillers. Right, because its whats inside that counts. Insania. Pay and display: Katie shows off her subtle look QUEstIoN: When is a top Gear presenter very boring? Answer: When he writes about anything but cars. Richard Hammonds latest book (you can tell its nearly Christmas when the top Gear team start churning out their annual tomes) deals with a variety of topics, namely his advancing years -- hes 40 -- and how he deals with them by wearing daft clothes and growing long hair. sadly, what it doesnt cover much is cars -- the one topic he knows about. In his desire to entertain, Hammond spares us no detail. We are guided through the symptoms of his appendicitis, hernia and kidney stones. Its like an episode of Casualty rather than the memoirs of a car expert. theres more haplessness when he reveals hes invited on board HMs Illustrious and forgets to take a proper pair of trousers. similarly, a helicopter flight he takes comes close to disaster when the chopper collides with a seagull. By this point, the reader is left wondering whether Hammond should be allowed to cross the road without help, let alone front a television show. Its not all doom and gloom, though. the author has thoughtfully arranged for each book to include a page of joke stickers. Next time, it might be even more thoughtful to stick to petrolhead topics. JAMES ANTHONy Hapless: Richard Hammond AUTOBIOGRAPHY Or Is That Just Me? ByRichardHammond(Weidenfeld&Nicolson,18.99) HIIII 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.html