With ruinous results
Con Brio (Vintage, £ 3.95) by Brina Svit is the Slovenian writer’s third novel. Peter Constantine’s translations conveys the dry and relentless unfolding of a tortured story, as the narrator finds his ordered life being gradually dislocated by a sexual obsession. Tibor’s tale has an almost impossible beginning, an impulsive proposal in a restaurant, but Svit’s mastery lies in making the painfully possible emerge slowly and convincingly out of the relationship that follows.
The history of Tom Jones, a foundling (Rupa, Rs 195) by Henry Fielding needs to be repeatedly issued, for it remains unchallenged as a comic classic in English literature. This edition carries an introduction by Alan Pryce-Jones, and a sketch of Henry Fielding’s life and career — equipment helpful for the first-time reader.
Hanklyn-Janklyn (Tara, $ 15.95) by Nigel Hankin is not just good fun, it is also a good companion on the shelf for the irreplaceable Hobson-Jobson. The Anglo-Indian world of words has grown. And now, Hinglish words comprise a substantial percentage of the strange-sounding creatures that have managed to insinuate themselves into the global English vocabulary. Hankin has a lot to play with, and he goes about the game with the eccentricity worthy of the pioneering explorer. Some confusions notwithstanding — like that of the sari with the dhoti — the book is useful for Indophiles, although the production could have done with a lot of improvement.
The people’s music (Pimlico, £ 5.80) by Ian MacDonald is the music journalist’s second triumph after Revolution in the Head. It is a collection of essays, each of which studies the different personalities and aspects of British pop music of the Sixties and the Seventies. The essays include an assessment of Bob Dylan, and discussions on John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Nick Drake. What is most valuable about the book is its depiction of the times, without which the reading of the music would have been left without a context.
Dinner for two (Pimlico, £ 6.99) by Mike Gayle is an enjoyable romantic comedy, the kind that keeps you hoping that things will soon be hunky-dory even if the love of your life has turned away. The journalistic world it presents is bristling with “modern” issues and predicaments, but the tale is refreshingly free of “modern” palmtop philosophizing.