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Irish Daily Mail - - It’s Friday! - JANE SHILLING

IN PATAGONIA by Bruce Chatwin (Vin­tage €13.99) BRUCE CHATWIN was de­scribed by his edi­tor, Su­san­nah Clapp, as ‘a con­nois­seur of the ex­tra­or­di­nary’.

When he died in 1989, aged 48, he had pub­lished half a dozen books, of which the first, In Patagonia, re­de­fined travel writ­ing.

Framed as the story of Chatwin’s quest to dis­cover the ori­gins of a small piece of hairy skin, sup­pos­edly ‘a piece of bron­tosaurus’, that was dis­played in a cabi­net in his grand­mother’s house, In Patagonia is a vivid and ex­hil­a­rat­ing col­lage of sto­ries, char­ac­ter sketches and his­tory.

Dur­ing his life­time and for a while af­ter his death, the suc­cess of Chatwin’s writ­ing seemed in­ex­tri­ca­bly bound up with his star­tling beauty and charm.

But this 40th an­niver­sary edi­tion of In Patagonia con­firms him as a writer whose works have earned a place among the clas­sics for their lu­mi­nous ob­ser­va­tion and cap­ti­vat­ing sto­ry­telling. THE INVENTION OF AN­GELA CARTER by Ed­mund Gor­don (Vin­tage €13.99) ‘WHEN An­gela Carter died — aged just 51, on Fe­bru­ary 16, 1992 — her rep­u­ta­tion changed from cultish to canon­i­cal,’ writes her bi­og­ra­pher, Ed­mund Gor­don.

Three days af­ter she died, her pub­lisher, Vi­rago, sold out of her books.

An­gela’s glit­ter­ing fic­tion, with its fierce take on the hu­man con­di­tion, was much ad­mired in her life­time, but it never brought her the fi­nan­cial re­wards en­joyed by such male con­tem­po­raries as Ian McEwan and Martin Amis, and she would prob­a­bly have greeted her post­hu­mous ac­claim with amuse­ment.

A decade-and-a-half af­ter her death, Gor­don’s el­e­gant, in­ti­mate and dili­gently re­searched bi­og­ra­phy will en­sure that a new gen­er­a­tion of read­ers dis­cov­ers the in­trigu­ing works of An­gela Carter, the most daring and flam­boy­ant of lit­er­ary high-wire artistes. ARTHUR & SHERLOCK by Michael Sims (Blooms­bury €18.20) IN EARLY 1886, Arthur Co­nan Doyle was a young doc­tor with a mod­est prac­tice in Portsmouth when he de­cided to write a novel — and so his great de­tec­tive, Sherlock Holmes, sprang into be­ing.

But where did Doyle find the in­spi­ra­tion for Holmes’s re­mark­able char­ac­ter — the bril­liant mind, the icy de­duc­tive skill and the trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with co­caine and mor­phine?

In his study of the mod­els for Holmes, Michael Sims explores the in­flu­ences on which Doyle drew when he in­vented the world’s first ‘con­sult­ing de­tec­tive’.

Doyle him­self iden­ti­fied Holmes’s pow­ers of ob­ser­va­tion with those of Dr Joseph Bell, his tu­tor as a young med­i­cal stu­dent, but he also ac­knowl­edged a debt to Edgar Al­lan Poe and Robert Louis Steven­son.

This in­ge­nious work of lit­er­ary de­tec­tion is es­sen­tial for all Holmes devo­tees.

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