Issue 210 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published July/August 1997 Copyright © Socialist Review

Stack on the back

Pat Stack

Every summer this magazine does a feature called 'Books for the beach'. This summer the task has fallen to me, so here goes.

- Drop the Dead Donkey (John Major≠a Biography) E Lectorate Fossil Books £1.99

This is a terrific tale of a mediocre man who stretches that mediocrity beyond all reasonable limits. In the process he makes millions of enemies who eventually come together to get rid of him. His childhood years are boring beyond belief, his rise to fame is as shocking as his viciousness once there, and his fall from power is high comedy. Everyone will want to read this.

- Mother of all the Windsors Elizabeth Windsor Scrounger & Scrounger £199

This is a ripping yarn about a dysfunctional family. The eldest son talks to plants and dreams of being a tampon. His wife, feeling badly treated, tries to kill herself by swallowing a jelly baby whole. Meanwhile his sister marries the winner of the Grand National, despite the objections of the jockey, and his younger brother divorces his wife who promptly sells their children to a wealthy childless couple from California. Granny is a hopeless alcoholic, and youngest son Edward struggles to become a famous heterosexual showbiz impresario.

- Five go Power Crazy at Westminster A Hun Wasteland £0.45

This is a political thriller about five men all chasing the same woman, hoping to win her heart. Fat Ken is the clever one with the worryingly strange laugh, who has a vicious streak behind the jovial smile. Wee William is the young fogey who is terribly dull and reminds her of her ex-husband. Jilted John is the dangerous one with the swivel eyes who is fluent in a number of languages all of which he's invented. Peter the Pout is the anally retentive tight lipped one who is really trying to get her for his old mate Michael who is unavoidably called away. Howard is a slimy turd who everybody hates and is rejected by the woman without a second glance. Who gets her? No surprises there!

- The Baglady Always Rings Twice Stephen King Doolally Books remaindered 12p

This is a typical King chiller. A number of years ago 10 Downington Place was occupied by a mad axe wielding baglady who laid all about her to waste. Eventually psychiatrist Dr Polly Tax catches her and locks her up. Now a nice new couple have moved in but, despite an idyllic start, things begin to go wrong when the baglady escapes and calls back to her old haunt and is invited in by the couple. I won't give the end away but it gets pretty scary.

- For Whom the Bell Tolls M Fayed Tatton & Crooks mail order only

This tale of crime and wrongdoing is done in the style of a Raymond Chandler. It's a story of a weak but ambitious man and his greedy wife who are led astray when money begins mysteriously turning up in plain brown envelopes. The hero, Bell, who has recovered from that nasty wound he got in the last novel, is on their trail and with the help of his sidekicks, Stalker and Hutch, brings the gruesome twosome to justice.

- Janet and John go to Downing Street A Campbell Harman & Mandelson £5

Here's a good one for the kids. The nice white middle class couple move into their new home, and sensibly hand over the deeds to the bank manager. On holiday in France they make a new friend, Jospin, who is a bit Gallic and hasty but they teach him how to do things the English way. These books are the in thing at the moment, but be careful the kids could quickly get bored with them.

- Sex, Lies and Never Inhale Billy Clinton Pathbreaker/Kennedy $200 only available in hardneck

This is a bodice ripper in the best traditions of Pathbreaker/Kennedy. It's about a powerful corporate boss who just can't keep his hands to himself despite the fact that women find him utterly resistible. Now his career stands on the brink of ruin as he is taken to court by one of his victims. Is she telling the truth? Will he be found guilty? And what exactly is the strange distinguishing feature close to his infamous love muscle?

- Summer of 97 Various Britannia £7

This one's for sports fans. It's about the unforgettably glorious summer of 1997 when England won three games at football, a few games of cricket and even got somebody into the second qualifying round at Wimbledon. Of course that all seems a long time ago now with England just having lost to Brazil, Italy and Ireland at cricket, and Australia, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka at football, but thanks for the memories.

- Spiceless T Hype Gonepower £5 with every free copy

Do you remember the fab five: Old Spice, Ground Spice, Thin Spice, Pale Spice and Nice Spice? Their fantastic first single, 'Tell You Wot I Want', went straight to number one, as did 'Tell You Wot I Need', 'Tell You Wot I Got' and 'Tell You Wot Time The Next Train Arrives From Preston'. They looked like they were here forever until people said they would never be as good as the Beatles because they didn't write their own material. Their response, with singles such as 'Tell Got You I Want' and 'Sally Pepper's Lousy Heart Pub Band', bombed. Everything finally unravelled when they insisted on playing their own instruments unaccompanied. Five tambourines all out of synch with one another was never likely chart material. Still, you gave us a lot of fun. Ta.

Well, those are my choices for this summer. Have a great read.


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