2 JULY 1994, Page 24

Girodias, incidentally, was a most inter- esting character. He ran

a combined night- club and whorehouse, wherein he kindly entertained me (one of my first freebies), on the Left Bank and his party trick was to chew up and swallow wine-glasses. He fell foul of Mme de Gaulle. As lethal a pair of enemies as you could hope for, Yvonne and Mike.

The bulk of the book is made up of anecdote, spiced with rather quaint correspondence. No Donleavy fan will wish to be without it.

Stan Gebler Davies died last week Imagine how meaningless life would be were you never required to die. fain M. Banks has. In his latest science fiction actioner, Feersum Endjinn, the big sleep is but a small snooze. It's over in seconds, then back to business. As the novelist's business goes, this makes for a tough time. Since stories are dependent on change (and action stories are dependent on the chance of the biggest change of all) it's dif- ficult to develop things when there's no chance of anyone really buying the big one. And yet Banks's is no dystopic vision of the future. It's just that it's not a utopian vision either. Feersum Endjinn refuses to take an angle on the world it depicts. The book stops here.