Claire Sawers

Freelance Writer

Date: October 7, 2008

Tibor Fischer – Good to be God

Good to be God

The List
4 September 2008
4 stars

Tyndale Corbett is worried that ‘do-gooding, over-forgiving softies’ have given religion a bad name. After stealing a friend’s identity and fleeing to Miami to escape his dead-end existence, he wants to con a congregation into believing he’s God. Decency and law-abiding got him nowhere, but his new role as a humble, yet hard-nosed vigilante, dishing out rough justice amongst South Beach’s crack dealers, bullshitters and blamers, leads him to unexpected enlightenment.

Tibor Fischer’s surreal morality tale is bullet-riddled with wisdom, but freed from worthiness thanks to his brilliantly dry, warped humour. Narrated by a washed-up loser who’s met one too many wiseguys, Fischer is fooling no one. He delivers the gospel according to a very intelligent, far from perfect man (a bit like his fantasy plot, which revisits common ground from his previous novels), and although he’d like us to believe Corbett’s a wrinkly old cynic, the black comedy lets slip his compassionate side.

Good to be God (Alma Books)

Mark Doty – Theories and Apparitions

Mark Doty

The List
2 October 2008
4 stars

Mark Doty’s talent has always been in bringing elegance to simple, normally very recognisable, snapshots from everyday life. The American poet starts out with a plain observation – some rude truck driver tearing up the NYC streets; his dog, Beau, wagging its tail; a bat leaving an ‘inky signature’ in the night sky – before using it as a springboard for exploring tender and profound truths, but in a very laidback way.

Doty’s eighth book is succinct and moving, mood-swinging gracefully through a 55-year-old’s frustrations, fears, grateful snatches of surprise or ‘unbridled joy’. Less grandiose or raw than previous books, where he dealt with the death of his partner or the aftermath of 9/11, the intensity of his grief and despair has been replaced by equally deeply-felt, only less tortured emotions, plus the occasional shoulder-shrug or eye-roll at the dilemmas life throws at him. Effortlessly done, condensing his soul-searching into neat and beautiful soundbites.

Theories and Apparitions (Jonathan Cape)

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