The Brass author rubs up against our 0&A

First book you read?

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blfion. The oiitpourings of a pure genius or the outmrne of too

much acid"

What’s the best book ever?

I ha .ieri't written it yet And the worst? Ulysses. Utter tosh.

Name the most over-hyped novel? 'Overhyped' really only exists in the mind of bitter

writers and bitter (purnalists.

Which dead writer would you like to have been? I'd have liked to have had split an E With Hemingway and shared a rock With Selby.

ls fact stranger than fiction?

Yes. Read Philip Courevitch's Stories From Rwanda. Part of its horrific potency is that it IS fact. The mass scale slaughter which took place there was not dreamt up by Thomas Harris. It happened. And once you've stepped inSide the stinking amphitheatre of that Nyarubuye Church seething With severed heads and limbs. you can never iust snap the book shut and walk away. Rwanda Will

haunt you forever.

Which relatively unknown writer will we be talking about in five years time?

Zoe Strachan. She's blinking brilliant and she's gong

to be huge.

00 you have a favourite line from a book?

It's from Ged Brennan. amiable sc0Lise gangster from KeVin Sampson's Outlaws. ‘One thing I am not is a

racialist. I know loads of Pakis from the match, don't I?'

I Gwendo/ine Riley 8. Helen Walsh, 79 Aug.

8.30pm, £8 (£6)

Telephone Booking Book Festival 0131 624 5050 Fringe 0131 226 0000

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poetry at the ready, kilt swirling,‘ he laughs. 'Maybe I'll be the first author ever to be banned from Charlotte Square.‘ Recommended Reading: The chapter in The Sky is Falling on Our Heads about the Aussie on top of Calton Hill during the Beltane Festival.

Nictoria Hammett)

I 74 Aug, 7.30pm, £5 (£3).

MARK HADDON Whitbread winner puts his curate‘s egg slap bang centre stage

As the title tune of the old Aussie soap Sons and Daughters would have it: ‘When it came/It came from nowhere.‘ A few years ago when Mark Haddon's The Curious inCident of the Dog in the Night-time entered a book market that was choked with adult-friendly children's literature. few people

could have anticipated its success. But why w0uld they have? The book was a curate's egg, with strange. simple prose telling the first person story of a kid with Asperger's Syndrome who tries to solve a very suburban crime. The text is less straightforward. punctuated with weird illustrations. prime numbers. metaphoric allusions and a sense that the inanimate may be secretly plotting against us.

Haddon himself has had many careers: disability worker. abstract artist. cartoonist. teacher. scriptwriter (mostly for children's television) and canoeist. Like one of his heroes Raymond Briggs. he has made a career out of putting the ephemeral and vulgar centre stage. Recommended Reading: The Real

Porky Philips. a kids' tale about a largely anonymous boy and his

mysterious doppelganger.

(Paul Dale) I I8 Aug, 7pm, £8 (£6).

ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH Local literary legend offers up some of his Precious things

In all the fandango surrounding JK Rowling's schoolboy Wizard sensation. there's been a tendency to overlook that other Edinburgh literary phenomenon who happens to be doing rather well everywhere else. In the last five years. Zimbabwe (then RhodesiaI-born Alexander McCall Smith has amassed a huge followmg thanks to the adventures of Mma Precious Ramotswe of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

The Botswana-set series is unique in its amalgam of spare. insightful prose and the warm affection McCall Smith extends to his sharply observed characters. Most

noteworthy among these is Precious herself. on hand at all times With a slice of wry, homespun Wisdom and a cup of bush tea for the clients who bring her their personal coiiundruiiis. HaVIng recently embarked on a new. Edinburgh-based series The Sunday Philosopher C/uh. McCall Smith Will proVide great fun for afioonados of his work and the Wider mystery genre. Recommended Reading: The No 7 Ladies Detective Agency. the charming introduction to PreCious Ramotswe and her casebook. (Allan Radcliffe)

I 74, 76Aug. 8pm, {)8 (£5).

STELLA RIMINGTON Literary intelligence; quite literally

When MIS appomted Stella Rimington as its director general in 1992 in a move to inCrease openness. it probably wasn't banking on its new chief publishing her memoirs a few years later. Open

Secret did have lei clearance, but nonetheless; contained plenty of Juicy insider stuff about how the security serVices go about combating teri'orisiii. And now Dame Stella has revealed more of the same. this time Ill fictional form, in her debut novel, At Risk. A conventional but captivating thriller. At Risk clearly draws heaVily on its author's experience (how to hotWire a car and how to manufacture homemade explosives are both in there) as a yOung worrian in Ml?) struggles to defeat a terrorist threat. With 30

years" experience in the

field. Riniington Will no doubt have plenty to say. espeCIally in the light of the ongOing political rumblings of ‘intelligence failure' in Iraq and beyond. Recommended Reading: At Risk, an autobiographical thriller set in the murky world of intelligence- gathering.

‘DOUg Johnstonei

I 77Aug, 7.30pm, E7 035/.

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‘I could see the exact colour in my memory. I could see it from the bad there too. It looked in every way as burning bright as it had then, from the swing-park at the top of Pennyburn. I would go back there soon, and go to Glasgow, to see the houses of my grandparents. There would be different lights on in those houses this evening, different lights, in those houses that remained.’

I Andrew O'Hagan, 18 Aug, 3. 30pm, £7 (£5) 8 5.30pm, free tickets; 19 Aug. 4.30pm, £7 (£5).

“1—7 ’: A.’; 223-1 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 25