06:06, March 25 140 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-25 06:06:05
In brief: Self & I; The Party; The Secret Barrister

Self & I

Matthew de Abaitua

Eye Books, £14.99, pp224

In 1994, the young would-be writer Matthew de Abaitua lived with a recently divorced Will Self in a small cottage in Suffolk for six months as his “amanuensis”, with unforeseen consequences. In this resulting memoir, De Abaitua, now an acclaimed novelist, paints a vivid picture of his first steps towards a literary career. The title might nod to Withnail, as do some of the odd couple’s odder exploits – including the consumption of many a “special cigarette” – but this erudite yet hilarious account will resonate with anyone trudging in the footsteps of a more successful figure.

The Party

Elizabeth Day

4th Estate £8.99, pp304 (paperback)

Day’s clever, cutting novel about class and privilege has drawn comparisons with The Talented Mr Ripley and The Line of Beauty, though in its laser-like focus on a disturbed and bitter protagonist, it bears a closer likeness to Sebastian Faulks’s underrated Engleby. Martin Gilmour lives in the shadow of an old schoolmate, the glamorous and successful Ben Fitzmaurice, but Ben’s family are oddly keen to keep Martin on side. The reasons why soon become clear in this elegantly written and gripping saga, which reminds us that the rich are very different to you and me, and that goes for their transgressions as well.

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken

The Secret Barrister

Macmillan, £16.99, £384

The law may be an ass, but it’s we who end up being given a kicking by it. That’s the message one takes away from this terrifying and occasionally hilarious book by the anonymous author, who uses their experience of the goings-on in the contemporary courtroom to paint a picture of chaos. From trials being endlessly postponed to unprepared barristers struggling through an underfunded and unfit system, this is an eye-opening, if depressing, account of the practice of law today. Perhaps there is hope, but the author leaves us in no doubt that urgent reform is needed.

To order Self & I for £12.74, The Party for £7.64 or The Secret Barrister for £14.44 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99

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