yOur mind up for yourself.‘ Recommended reading: The Rise of The Indian Rope Trick. a light-hearted examination of a fanciful piece of journalistic fiction that was sustained through centuries of disputed claims by the West's willingness to believe in Eastern mysticism. (Mark Edmundson) I 78 Aug, 8.30pm, £8 (£6).

CORINNE MAIER Why work is evil

Corinne Maier knows the secret of how to succeed in business without really trying. The practising psychoanalyst and economic conSUltant at Electricite de France may sound like a ridiculously busy woman. Yet she has found time to pen a bestseller, Bonj'our Paresse (‘Hello Laziness'). which offers tips to despondent corporate workers on how to look productive while doing precisely nothing. ‘I thought it would be funny to make fun of all self-important corporate managers.‘ says the author. ‘And yes. I was fed up with my company.‘

But hang on a minute. We grafters in the UK are constantly being told that our friends on the sunny side of the channel are a nation of idlers, content to gloss over the world of work in favour of joie de vivre.

'I think that is a bit of a cliché.‘ says Maier. ‘But it is true that France is a Latin country, where what you show is sometimes more important than what you do. Still. I think France is a depressed country nowadays a lot of people have the feeling that nothing positive can happen to them and it is not an incentive to create new things.‘

Indeed. as Maier has found. her book has struck chords with disgruntled office workers the world over.

“People everywhere recognise the world I describe. the absurdity of big corporate structures. But there are subtle differences between reactions from people of different nationalities. I'm not sure people from the UK take the book very seriously. maybe because they have all read Tom Hodgkinson [author of How to Be Idle]. Or maybe it's because they've all seen The Office.“ (Allan Radcliffe)

I 22 Aug, 7pm, £8 (£6).

JOHN IRVING American storyteller with new doorstep

John Irving might not be regarded as one of America‘s literary heavyweights. but he is undoubtedly one of the nation's finest stOrytellers. his epic books meeting with massive success ever since he was first published back in the late 603. His body of work

includes such famous titles as The World According to Garp, Hotel New Hampshire and The Cider House Rules. and the latter won an Oscar for Irving, who adapted his own novel for the big

screen. But Irving's latest book is so massive and has taken so long that it has knocked all his other novels into the shade. Until I Find You contains all Irving's usual autobiographical themes (absent fathers. oddball mothers. strange sexual experiences at an early age) in an 800-page doorstop of a book which has tattooing and organ music at its core and which travels all around the world. even taking in a lengthy sojourn to Edinburgh's Leith area. Irving spent seven years researching and writing the book. and gave a sneak preview at last year's Book Festival. but this year, with the novel on the shelves. expect a scintillating discussion of the charismatic writer's most autobiographical work to date. Recommended reading The World

' According to Garp, still the writer's

finest moment in print after all these years. (Doug Johnstone) I 27 Aug, 11.30am, £7 (£5).

KOJI SUZUKI From house-husband to household name in horror

Although Koji Suzuki's phenomenally successful horror fiction has made him a literary star in his home country of Japan. here in the West it's the film adaptations of his books that have hogged the limelight. To date Suzuki's ‘Ring' trilogy (which includes Spiral and Loop) has spawned four home- grown films (the first of which was a breakout success in the West), two television series, a Korean film version and two American remakes. And his short story, ‘Floating Water‘, which is included in a new collection of translated tales, has been filmed both

in Japan and America as Dark Water.

But Suzuki, who's known back home in Tokyo as ‘the Japanese Stephen King', toiled in obscurity for years. Before Ring sold nearly three million copies on its first print run, the now 45-year-old was a house-husband to his schoolteacher wife and their two kids (he wrote a non-fiction book

about this rare phenomenon in Japan). :

Domestic life features heavily in Suzuki's stories. which cleverly mix the traditional Japanese ghost stOry with modern urban myths. and have been labelled “psycho-horror“. It's a term that describes the stories' transformation of the everyday phones. video players, housing blocks - into the terrifying, and the emphasis on an atmosphere of dread. it's a feeling that is, arguably, more readily engendered in fiction than in film. Recommended reading: Ring. the book that started a phenomenon. (Miles Fielder)

I 24 Aug, 77.30am, £7 (£5).


Science’s sharp shooter


Richard Dawkins has never been one to

hide away in his Oxford University office. He is the media-friendly, slick face of science. After publishing his theories of evolution in the provocatively titled The Selfish Gene he has returned with a weighty tome entitled The

Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the

Dawn of Life. It sounds like a title to be read in deep American drawl by a voiceover hack. and. though Dawkins is terribly British, the dramatics are

intended. ‘It is an epic journey,‘ he says. I

It is also ironic that a devout atheist has chosen a term with religious connotations to sum up his quest. 'I think it’s part of our literary heritage.‘ he argues. ‘lt resonates with people because they are aware of the literary tradition. and the word "pilgrimage" enters into our language a great deal.’

He doesn't suffer fools gladly. When I ask why he thought a vision of life as

biology and science was grander than a

spiritual one, he says: “As Louis Armstrong said about jazz. "Lady, if you've gotta ask, you ain't got it."' He's got a sharp mind, a sharp tongue and is one of the most engaging speakers on the big questions of life you could ever wish to hear.

Recommended Reading: The Selfish

Gene. a landmark book putting our self-

seeking natures into terms accessible for the amateur scientist. Just.

(Ruth Hedges)

I 19 Aug, 6.30pm, £8 (£6).


People seem to care about manners at the moment, writes Perrier winner and The Done Thing author Simon Fanshawe. You don’t have to be 595 years old and still lamenting the end of the Empire to mind whether people say please and thank you, barge through doors you have held open or treat you like a moron on the phone.

'I Lesfleters Be kind to them. Even if they are on stilts at 10am or are dressed like Elizabeth the First. don't barge by and scowl. It’s an unnecessary slap in the face. They may be handing you your 350th leaflet of the day. But they're human.

2 Conversations You can talk to strangers who are also identifiany part of the Fringe audience in the way that only old women tell you their age at the bus stop. Manners are basically the way we deal with strangers, which usually requires caution when talking to people you don't know. But at the Festival you can ask anyone’s opinion about any show, in the queue. the Pleasance courtyard, wherever. it’s odd when you're British but being at the Festival is like being in a rail crash or a flood. Everyone is suddenly a friend.

3 l-Iecltllng Don't. Except at racism, homophobia etc. it ruins it for everybody else. It’s inconsiderate. If you hate the act. leave.

4 lmslls at work They are not a substitute for fly-posting. The way people cc in the whole world has turned letter writing into litter writing. Don’t do it. Show the recipient that you actually mind about what you're saying to them. Spell correctly, take care and address it to a properly targeted group.

5 Sex if you sleep with someone on the Festival, ask their name. Don't leave without saying goodbye, don't give them your number with one digit wrong and don't expect it to last. The Festival may be a Darwinian crap shoot but that doesn't mean you have to leave your manners at home.

I 19 Aug, 70am, £7 (£5).

All events are based in Charlotte Square Gardens, unless othenivlse indicated. The box office number is 0131 624 5050 and the website is