Subscriber OnlyBooksReview

Book reviews in brief: Girls’ Night, Dirty Real, and When I Died for The First Time

Books by Eimear Lynch, Peter Stanfield, and James frontman Tim Booth

An image from Girls' Night by Eimear Lynch

Girls’ Night

By Eimear Lynch, IDEA Books, £35

“It wasn’t all for the boys” photographer Eimear Lynch tells us, in an introduction to her photobook that charts the ritualistic affair of Irish teen girls preparing for discos. The thrill of anticipation is at the heart of this book. Curated like an immaculate Instagram feed, Lynch’s photography captures the sweet liminal space of the potential of a still-ripe evening as her subjects (primarily slim white girls in synthetic body-con dresses and Converse runners) prepare for and attend teen discos. The book is accompanied by short texts by fashion designer Simone Rocha, 14-year-old Marley Nolan and Gráinne McCullough. Unfortunately, it captures all the self-consciousness and none of the giddiness that I so fondly remember of these formative occasions. Brigid O’Dea

Dirty Real: Exile on Hollywood and Vine with the Gin Mill Cowboys

By Peter Stanfield, Reaktion Books, £17.95

Stanfield brings fresh eyes to a chunk of late 1960s/early 1970s New Hollywood, born out of the unexpected success of Easy Rider, which one of Peter Fonda’s friends summarised as: Great, you’ve made a movie about your record collection. Stanfield studies films by Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Robert Altman, Sam Peckinpah and others, tracing their origin stories while deconstructing myths that these renegade “cowboy filmmakers” were anti-establishment; their backgrounds prove otherwise. They turned the auteur theory on its head in Hollywood, yes, but many of them were handed their asses, too. Parts of this era have been covered previously in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, or by Sam Wasson, or Paul Seydor’s superlative monograph on Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Stanfield’s approach is like the latter; one for cinephiles. NJ McGarrigle

When I Died for The First Time

By Tim Booth, Little, Brown, £22

Booth will be known from the band James, as he joins the line-up of musicians writing a novel. Those who have done so with distinction include Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and Willy Vlautin, and while Booth does not reach their levels of originality, for a first book it’s a diverting, playful, rollicking slice of rock’n’roll life. Booth rattles through the story of Seth Brakes, a recovering addict struggling to rebuild his life and career following the self-destruction that musical fame can bring. Being dialogue heavy makes characters feel one dimensional, but Booth has plenty of knowing, funny lines to keep the pages turning. Negative points: the always tricky writing about sex, cliched here; and the seemingly obligatory passage of creative fonts-and-formatting pages that pad out too many new novels. NJ McGarrigle